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!)