Sunday, August 31, 2014

Here's to 4 Years in Peru!

It has been 4 years since I packed my bags and left for my great Peruvian adventure. Little did I know at the time that I would meet the love of my life and decide to settle in this Andean country. I had no set plans when I decided on Peru. All I knew is that I was going to do the Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu and work as an English teacher for 6 months at Maximo Nivel in Cusco. I had 6 months set up and I would take it from there. There is something so wonderful about leaving things open ended. The first thing is that there are no expectations to live up to and everything is an adventure. I can't tell you how much more interesting my life has been since I decided to stop trying to control everything. As soon as you realize that so much of our lives is out of our control, the happier you will be. When it comes down to it, the only thing we really can control is how we view things. If I decide to look negatively at something, it will be negative and bring me down. If I decide to be optimistic and let things go, I find that I have so much more energy for things that really need it.

Living in Peru over the past four years has forced me to let go of control in so many ways and I can honestly say that I am happier and healthier because of it. Fear is not on my mind anymore because it is a waste and life is bound to bring us difficult situations. Nothing is set in stone and change is unavoidable. I really like the metaphor that life is a series of waves and each person is a surfer who either decides how he or she is going to ride the wave or let it take him or her under. Of course, with any sport, there has to be a few crashes in order for one to get good at it. I, for one, am a terrible surfer in real life but I like to think that my metaphorical surfing skills have improved over the past four years. I have been put to the test with various circumstances while living here including testing my own identity and who I think (or thought) I am (was).

No matter what, I am so grateful for all of the events that have happened since leaving the United States. I have learned and grown and made so many connections. I spend my time with wonderful people and I have multiple jobs that are really fulfilling and I have the most important job of being a mom starting in a few months. I am somewhat nervous but more excited than anything. There are so many adventures to come with raising kids and it is so thrilling to be starting a new chapter in the cycle of my life.

With new beginnings in mind, I am thinking of either re-working this blog into one that is more focused on being a mom and an expat in Peru or taking my blogging skills over to wordpress and seeing what I can do in a new platform. I have started following some great Peruvian parents who blog and it is really nice to read their advice and anecdotes. I have also joined a group called Miramoms that is an expat group of ladies with kids mostly under the age of 6. I am going to a chat about giving birth in Peru in a few weeks and I look forward to meeting other expectant moms. I am looking forward to this new social group especially since non-baby having friends, while they will bear with a few minutes of baby talk, eventually want to talk about things that pertain to them as well. I completely understand having been there myself.

So, as the new adventures begin, happy 4 year Peruvian anniversary to me and may there be many many more to come!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Santa Rosa de Lima

Today we celebrated Santa Rosa de Lima or Saint Rose of Lima (April 20, 1586 - August 24, 1617). She was a Spanish colonist in Peru and she spent her life helping those in need throughout Lima. She is the patron saint of the police, nurses, the Philippines, and the Americas among others. According to wikipedia she was a religious extremest and it was not accepted by her family who wanted her to marry. She was very young when she died and I have to say, it doesn't seem like she lived a very happy life with all the penance. However, she did help a lot of people in need so I am sure she felt fulfilled.

There is a tradition here that involves writing down your wishes and prayers and throwing them into her well at her church in the center of Lima. The girls did a really cute play today and paid homage to her with a song that is quite fun. I enjoy watching the girls act out different stories from the bible and local Catholic culture. Fortunately, the severe penance was not discussed in the play. I may not agree with some of the doctrine of the Christian church but I like that there is always time to reflect and remind ourselves that we are a part of something much bigger and that is what Villa Maria provides for its students and teachers.

This evening I was passing through the Barranco plaza and the Police band was serenading everyone in the park. The actual day of Santa Rosa de Lima is the 30th but they started the celebrations tonight! It was great. One of the many things I love about Peru. Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

It´s a......

GIRL! We were so convinced it was a boy but the sonogram showed pretty clearly that our baby is going to be named Leah. I am so excited and Marco is ecstatic. So with that announcement, here is a belly pic. I am 24 weeks and honestly, I look way bigger in this picture than I really am. I don´t feel as big as I look. I think it has to do with the shirt.

I am one of those people who really enjoys seeing belly pics on facebook and I am also that person who is dying of curiosity to see the photos of my friends who choose not to put up the photos. Come on! One shot. It is so exciting! No need to be shy!

I am right at the 6 month mark which means the third trimester is almost here! Woohoo! Bring on the symptoms to come with it (including the baby at the end. That would be nice.) Apparently, after the rush of energy and feeling great during the third trimester, the expecting mother has all of the third trimester to enjoy having to pee a lot more again, aches and pains in the back, legs, butt, boobs etc., and loss of the ability to bend over in front which in my case means having to take more time picking up Pepe´s! So far so good though. I am sleeping through the nights without having to get up to pee. I have my trusty lotion applier every night (thanks hubby!) so the stretch marks have not come (keeping my fingers crossed that I don´t get any but I am a realist and besides, they are a badge of honor!) and I am still able to keep up with my kindergartners at work. We will see how long I will be able to work. I plan on working through November and just taking off two weeks before the baby is due. If there aren´t any complications, that should be fine. Marco and realized that next time though we should shoot for having a baby in September or October time so that we can maximize maternity leave AND vacation in January.

I have been nesting like crazy this past week and for those of you non-preggers folks and new to the term, it means that I have been getting all sorts of projects done around the house. This includes setting up the stickers in baby Leah´s room, getting all of our wedding photos printed and catalogued and put into an album, buying a dryer (YESSSSS - warm underwear!!) getting a sweet new pot set for our indoor garden, making a baby registry (still in the initial stages. I am really just trying to keep it to the must haves before baby is born right now. Any suggestions are welcomed.), organizing the office/baby´s room which means getting books and papers into a new set of plastic drawers which will free up the book shelf for baby books and toys, and donating clothes. Phew! I also am also planning on taking my driver´s test so I can get my Peruvian license before we get our new car. I also have to make sure that I am set up and ready to go with EsSalud should I have any emergency with my pregnancy. I am going to check them out this Saturday and get registered in their system. While I am at it I will get a few questionable moles checked out.

This is one wall of the baby´s room. I bought these reusable stickers on Amazon for $8.95 USD. We will see how reusable they are the first time we move.

I am super excited because Marco and I are going to go to Mundo Bebe this weekend. It is a huge baby store on Javier Prado and while I know it might be a better idea to have a gift registry at Ripley or Saga, it will be nice to see what this place has to offer. A pack n play and a stroller with a car seat are on my must have list.

Other than that, things are going well. I am back to eating much healthier and swimming. I can´t wait for this little girl to come along and change our lives completely for the better. I can´t even tell you how sweet it is to watch Marco interact with my belly. I can already tell that the two of them are going to be attached at the hip. She is going to be his princess and I am totally fine with that as long as she also learns how to be a thoughtful and respectful girl.

And as I mentioned in a facebook update, I am not letting myself fall into the stress of doubts and worries about all the stuff I have no idea that will happen or not. I am looking at all the positives and remembering that whatever difficulty that comes our way with raising Leah, we will figure it out and enjoy the adventure. Happiness and joy are my top feelings and I plan on keeping them that way even when we are totally exhausted from life with a newborn (and then a toddler, small child, adolscent, etc.). Bring on the adventure!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Our Trip to the States Part 3

Time for part 3 of our trip!
We made it to camp with a good hour before dinner and enjoyed walking around a bit. Marco loved the swings in front of the waterfront. (Who doesn´t?) We checked out the trip center where my former co-counselor was hanging and we caught up. She hadn´t been back to camp since 2009. It was really great to hear how trips had been going this summer.
We got settled in a peak that we miraculously had all to ourselves for one night which was surprising because usually all the peaks are filled with staff. (We were booted the following day due to a big group of visitors that came through.) Marco and I took the swim test with Jeanette after dinner enjoyed an early to bed night.
The following day we got up and went canoeing to birches after breakfast. No one was there at the time but I showed him around a bit. Marco loved the lake houses and I will admit, it would be super nice to have a lakehouse. Maybe one day! We headed back and made the rounds to different areas. It was nice to catch up with former campers who are all counselors now. There is nothing more satisfying that seeing campers rocking it as counselors, especially the campers who were super difficult. One of my former campers, Amy, told me that it was because of me that she kept coming back to camp after her first year in Friendship Lodge. Man, that cabin was my most difficult cabin ever. I had at least three girls who were a full time job in and of themselves. I had another former camper who was super excited because her three counselors from Metz I believe were all at camp again including me. I remember getting so excited when former counselors of mine came to visit camp. They had such an impact on me and it´s so heartwarming to know that I had a great impact on my campers. The cycle continues!
Anyway, we took a little trip to archery and through the nature trail and then took a nap before lunch. After lunch we (Sarah Jane really) tried getting Marco up on skiis. It was not as easy as it looked according to him. I get it. I didn´t get up at all when I was a camper. It was only when I had time at my cousin´s cottage in Wisconsin did I learn to finally ski. He will definitely have to try again.
During fun swim we had a good time at the trading post. I had to stock up on Echo gear, including the most adorable onesie that says Future Camp Echo Camper. Marco told me that he thinks it would be great for our kids to go to camp when they are older. Mission accomplished: Get hubby on board with loving camp. Oh! I forgot to mention that when Bernard introduced us to everyone he asked Marco what was one word he would use to describe camp. His word? DIVERSION! (Fun!) I agree wholeheartedly. Bernard also asked for people to stand up who were from different places besides Evanston. It was fun to see the mix of people.
After dinner we headed out to Birches and gave a guest speaker appearance to their ¨university¨ students. Their theme for the session was Birches university. Not bad! I spoke to them in Spanish about who I was and they had to translate. They did an excellent job.
When we got back to main camp we caught the last of the cheer off for olympics and then headed out to spend the night with my friend Julie´s (from Lima) parents in Newayo. What a wonderful coincedince that my best friend in Lima grew up 5 miles from camp. It was really nice of them to host us and we got tasty root beer floats!
On Saturday morning we had breakfast at camp and said our goodbyes. It was nice to catch up with Maureen who is still rock trips and teen programs. She´s a baller. Then Marco and I headed out to Fremont where we hit up the Goodwill and bought a ton of baby clothes for 50 bucks. Seriously, why pay full price for clothes that kids wear a few times, especially the under one year old clothing. I have a feeling my child will only fit in the 0-3 month clothing for a month or so. I was a big baby and I am going to guess that this one is going to be a big one too. We also went to Walmart where Marco picked up a playstation for 400 bucks. It is double that in Lima. His son is going to be so excited this Christmas.
On our way out of town we stopped at Lakeside swirl and then hit the road to get to the Michigan City Outlets. We didn´t go too crazy but we definitely spent a good 500 bucks at the outlets there. I had never been there before and it was great. I found maternity clothes, perfume, and Marco bought me a sweet Addidas track suit. We also bought fresh fruit along the ride home too.
I made sure to drive down Lake Shore Drive on the way back so Marco could see the beauty of the Chicago coast. It was a wonderful road trip and we wouldn´t have changed a thing. Marco got to see so much of the United States and experience what the typical American road trip is like. We both gained the weight to show it as well.
The following days at home with my mom were great. She planned a wonderful open house for us and we saw so many people that we wouldn´t have otherwise gotten to see. I am so grateful for the friends and family I have in the States. Marco commented as well that I am surrounded by good people. That´s the only way to live! We made sure to visit Dad and Judy before leaving and we went to a wonderful art fair on the lake where they bought us a beautiful photo print of the Chicago skyline from the water printed on aluminum. I really hope it gets here safe in the mail. It was not cheap and it was so nice of them to buy us. I can´t wait to put it up in the living room.
We made a few more shopping trips to a bunch of thrift stores, Target and TJ Max. I was surprised by how many thrift stores we found and a few of them by accident including the Salvation Army on Oakton. It was great!
We made our way to downtown Chicago on Monday and I took Marco to Millenium Park. We walked down to Water Tower Place and by that time we were exhausted so we headed home. It was a beautiful day and we really enjoyed the short tour. We made sure to pick up some Chicago souvenirs as well. I got my first Chicago t-shirt that has a the bean on it. 
All in all, this trip was everything I had hoped it would be. I was able to show Marco so much of my home country and he had a blast doing it. I had a blast watching him have a blast. We got so used to seeing each other non-stop for 18 days straight that when we got home and had to do errands separately it felt really weird. Haha. I guess that is a good sign right? We can't get enough of each other. 
I am super excited that the next time we travel to the States, our daughter will be along to enjoy the ride as well!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Our Trip to the States Part 2

All right it is time to get to part 2 of the Zamudio US tour.

On Sunday we started our trek to Washington DC along the beautiful Blue Ridge Highway. I was exhausted from not getting a good night´s sleep (Pregnancy somehow does that to you..go figure) so I slept through most of it. I did get out for a few photo ops though. I also couldn´t sleep very well through the switchbacks on the way down. It reminded me of a trip I took in Ecuador through the night from Puerto Lopez back to Quito. I literally thought we would be swung off into a ditch on the side of the road from the high velocity curves the bus took. Fortunately, mom was a better driver than that bus driver was.

When we got onto the interstate we had only gone 60 miles or so over a 2 and a half hour period. Mountain roads will do that. It was all good though. I got a cherry coke (guilty pleasure in the states was anything with anything cherry, cherry coke, cherry garcia ice cream, just plain bing cherries etc.) and was quickly driving again. We hit a major storm in Virginia about 80 miles outside of DC and I had to go 35 on the highway. Marco got his first taste of a warm summer storm.

We got into DC without any problems and my brother and his fiance so graciously gave up their memory foam bed to Marco and me for three days. It was so nice of them especially since my brother had to sleep on the floor. What a gentleman! On Monday morning Marco went running with Queen and Mom and I made use of the free Keurig coffee machine in the main lobby. We headed out to the white house via the metro. It was a beautiful day. It was sunny and the heat from the sun was offset by the wind. Monday the 28th was also Peru´s independence day so we all sported Peru t-shirts which got at least 2 responses from other Peruvians during the day. ¨Viva Peru!¨ and ¨Arriba Peru!¨ were both shouted to us. We had a great photo op in front of the White house and then headed to the Washington National Monument. My brother then guided us through the memorials in what he likes to call the Roger Brown circle tour. It was great and by the end I was ready to be off my feet. It would have been cool to go to the mall but we had no energy for that. We headed back to Roger and Queens´and Queen prepared us the most delicious feast of meat and wings and mac and cheese among many other dishes. It was so impressive and probably only outdone by the impressiveness of their bar (I have never seen so many different types of liquor in a personal bar before). We ended the night with a game of liverpool rummy. It was nice to play cards with the fam but I also found out that Marco is good for about 20 minutes of playing cards. It isn´t his favorite thing to do and I respect that.

On Tuesday Mom, Marco and I headed over to the Arlington Cemetery where we saw a special changing of the guard in which a Korean dipolomat paid hommage to the tomb of the unknown soldier. It was very cool and totally (not) planned on my part. We saw Kennedy´s grave and the eternal flame as well.

We headed up to Baltimore to see Fort McHenry where Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the national anthem after the battle of 1812. Marco and I helped take down the large flag that had to be replaced by a small night flag since it is law that a flag must fly 24 hours a day. The flag we took down was a replica of the flag during the era with 15 stars and 15 stripes. Fun fact: Originally the founding father had the idea that they would add a star and stripe for every new state added to the union but that quickly proved difficult and they decided to keep the stars for every state and have the stripes represent the 13 original colonies.

We stopped at a little crab shack on the way out of town but the lady forgot to put in our order so we were waiting for our meal for half an hour. Finally, we asked her about it and she apologized profusely. We had to leave since my mom had to get to the airport. I think they should have paid for our drinks and the hush puppies but what can you do?

We dropped mom off with plenty of time at the Baltimore airport and headed back to Silver Spring to eat dinner at Noodles and Co. Marco and I also made it to H&M across the street and I enjoyed maternity wear shopping. Maternity wear is a godsend. Seriously, I live in my long tee and leggings with an enormous panel that pracitcally goes up to my chest. No accidental crack or belly showing at all.

When we got home Queen and I had a nice chat about where we are in our lives and our plans. It was great. I am so excited for their wedding next year in Costa Rica. It is going to be a blast!

On Wednesday morning Marco and I got up and on the road by 9am so we would get into Painesville around 5:30pm. We were right on time. We visited my mother´s cousin Peggy and George and had dinner at their daughter and son in law´s long cabin. We also visited the Sugar Pines Christmas Tree Farm. What a cool experience. There is no such thing as a Christmas tree farm in Peru as far as I know and it was quite a novelty for Marco and for me really. I had never seen one in real life before even though I knew they existed. We used to buy real trees when I was little but then got a fake tree in middle school. It is a lot less work and a lot less sticky.

Jane and Fritz were so gracious to host us for dinner and show us around their place. We saw my other second cousins too who had their son and one of their daughters with them. Jane and Fritz´s boys Fritzel and Sam gave us a night hike and showed us the sugar pines from which their maple sugar is made from every March. We were able to take some home with us too! Marco tried a s´more for the first time and they presented us with a cookie cake that said Bienvenido on it. My family is the best. I loved how George woud get up every time he saw that Marco´s glass was empty of Jack Daniels. I am so grateful for the hospitality they all showed us.

On Thursday morning we headed to a cafe for breakfast with George and Peggy and our server had just so happened to have studied in Lima a while back so she was happy to use a bit of her Spanish with Marco. What a small world. After breakfast Marco and I got on the road and headed to Camp Echo!

(Part 3 to come soon!)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Our Trip to the States Part 1

I didn´t write at all while I was on vacation and I have to say that while it would have been nice to record the trip a bit more, I lived it up and enjoyed every moment in the moment. I literally had either no time or energy to write and I am not sad about that. It was a whirlwind 10 state trip with the most wonderful travel partner who was a blast to watch as he soaked up every new site and experience. It was so exciting and pleasing to see how excited and pleased he was with meeting people and visiting different sites. It was an unforgetable trip. I would like to do a large summary of this trip and then if I find the time, I will create specific entries for certain parts of the trip.

Our trip got off to a somewhat bumpy start at Lima when we were informed that the plane we were originally supposed to take didn´t have enough space for us. The lady at Avianca helped us get on a later flight with LAN to Miami and United to Chicago. It meant we had to stay an extra 6 hours in the airport but we were given VIP passes for the lounge with a free buffet and we got lunch. We were supposed to receive vouchers for 200 dollars each to be used on future Avianca flights but no one ever found us before we left. We made an inquiry about it in Chicago but the lady told us there was nothing marked on our account. I am going to call Avianca today to see what I can do about getting those vouchers. It would be super helpful for mom´s trip here in December. Finally, my bag came out on the trolley at O´Hare completely open with no zipper. Nothing was missing but it was so weird. It had to have happened between coming off the plane and getting onto the belt. They offered to have it fixed but it was a 2 to 3 week deal and I figured we could find someone to get a zipper put on. My dad was the best and got that done while we were on our road trip. Yay dad!

Anyway, we got to Miami where we got through customs super fast. I was feeling great because we had an hour til our flight right? Wrong! I just so happened to look up at the clock while I was getting change to make a phone call and I noticed it was 6:20 and not 5:20pm. Our flight was set to leave at 6:30pm. YIKES! I gestured to Marco and said we had to run! So we ran hard and made it to the gate just in time for the flight crew to quickly open the door and let us in. If it had been literally a minute later, we probably wouldn´t have gotten on our flight. Phew. The flight was great to Chicago other than the girl next to us having to throw up upon our landing. Poor girl. She was really nice though and let me use her phone to call my mom and dad. (Marco and I managed to get through our entire trip without using a cell phone. We had a netbook to use skype if there was internet but we really didn´t need a cell phone and it was wonderful being cell phone free.)

Dad picked us up and took us to Wendy´s for a late night snack. It was super humid and hot when we got in but it was the only time we felt that kind of weather because that night a storm came in bringing a cold front with it. Lucky us! Marco was spoiled and he went running the next day. ¨Your entire city is a park¨ was his comment. It is true especially if you are coming from Lima where cement dominates and only a few parks give a bit of green. We headed out towards Kentucky on Wednesday morning with mom along. Driving through Indiana isn´t that great but Kentucky was beautiful. It was Marco´s favorite place with the white fences and horses (in Lexington). We visited my wonderful college roommate Amanda who served us a delicious curry chicken dinner. It was so great to catch up with her and she gave Marco some bourbon beer to try. He loved it. I can´t believe it had been almost years since we had seen each other. Time has flown.

After Kentucky we headed to Asheville North Carolina where we parked ourselves for three days to celebrate my cousin´s wedding. It was awesome. We had a yummy buffet dinner the night before the wedding and caught up with family. We took a cousins picture on the steps too. We had a tradition of taking Christmas photos with all the cousins every year that we were together as kids. It was nice to get a picture of all of us now. Later that evening we met up at the Hilton and played Blitz, a super fun card game. Ahh, playing cards just like old times.

We went to a place called the Fun Depot the day of the wedding and rode go karts and played mini golf and bowling. Marco didn´t think he was going to have as much fun as he did since he thought it was a place for little kids when we walked in. What´s not to love about an arcade with mini gold and go karting?

The wedding was beautiful. It was held at the North Carolina arboritum and while we were in the scorching sun for the ceremony, it was still beautiful. I translated the entire ceremony live to Marco which was a first for me. I think I did a pretty decent job of listening and translating simultaneously. It was a Jewish wedding too so there was a hupa and a glass to be broken at the end. My cousins had a really ecologically friendly wedding with recyclable everything and their gift to everyone was a piece of paper with wildflower seeds in it. All you have to do is put the paper in dirt and water it. It was a cute idea. I was also impressed that there was bluegrass music for the entire thing. People didn´t really know how to dance to it but there were a few fast songs that had a cumbia beat so Marco and I tried our best. My favorite part was the hora, a typical Jewish song sung at weddings. The bride and groom are lifted up in their chairs and the parents of each are as well. It was a blast. I think it was the longest hora I have been a part of too. Haha.

Since the wedding was a dry wedding, we all met up at a place called Thirsty Monk´s afterward. It was great to meet up with the fam. It was also wonderful having my cousins on my mom´s side at the wedding too. The following day we got up and went to a bagel breakfast at a park nearby. Marco went off wandering for a good hour and I had a little more time to chat with cousins and family. It was great to have bagels too. I get plenty of bread here in Peru but I love bagels and cream cheese. After breakfast we headed to the Biltmore, Vanderbilt´s 250 room mansion. We took a tour of the gardens and the house and it was incredible. I have never seen anything like it and it is supposedly the largest house in the United States. It wouldn´t surprise me. Mom bought Marco and I matching Biltmore shirts. We also had the most delicious black cherry ice cream from their creamery. Yum! Marco had no idea what I was talking about when I said that ice cream is a million times better in the States until he tried the black cherry ice cream. I probably ate ice cream or custard every other day on this trip. I have no desire for it now because it is just not the same here in Peru. It isn´t as creamy.

After the tour we headed to the winery where we tasted different wines and bought various things from the shop. I bought this wassail spice mix which can be drunk by itself or added to tea, apple cider, wine or rum. We got wine too but decided not to bring it back with us because we had plenty of other things to give us our maximum weight allowance. We said our goodbyes to the Reeds and my aunt gave us the cutest bibs in blue and pink since we still don´t know the sex for sure. She also gave us a passifier with a mustache on it so it looks like the baby has a mustache. It is hilarious.

We ended our Asheville stop with dinner at a steak house with the Winklers and the Gemeinhardts. Marco had a red snapper and I had risotto. Mmm. It was delicious. We walked around quaint Asheville for a bit afterward and then said our final goodbyes to everyone. We will see everyone again next year in Costa Rica for Roger´s wedding so less than a year to go before we are all reunited again. We have also discussed family reunion ideas for future years too. I am all about it!

(Part two to come later!)

Friday, August 8, 2014

Tired but so so grateful

Marco and I had a wonderful 18 days in the US and we got back early this morning to Lima. I plan on writing a more comprehensive blog post about our trip (or maybe a few since some events could definitely use their own posts). Right now I just want to take a minute to thank everyone who made us feel so welcomed and made Marco feel welcomed. We visited so many friends and family during our 10 state trip and he enjoyed all of it. I am beyond grateful to have finally taken my husband to where I am from. He can understand me better and he has a better sense of where I am coming from when I refer to different things back in the States. I am beyond happy to have had this amazing experience. I am also beyond grateful for my mom who hosted an amazing open house for us and allowed us to see a bunch of people we wouldn't have seen otherwise. I am also grateful for my dad who lent us his car for our road trip and got our luggage fixed. Judy and he also bought us a beautiful photo printed on aluminum that will be going up in our living room as soon as it arrives. Thank you to my wonderful brother too who hosted us and gave up his bed for three nights. The circle tour of the monuments in DC was pretty fantastic too.

To everyone else, thank you for your hospitality and warmth. Marco loved his first trip to the States and we are excited for the next one that will include at least one more family member!