Meli, Jorge, Olivia and I left around 9:30 to head to Jorge’s parent’s house. Had a Johnny Walker Black on the rocks as I sat and played with Pete (their [small] dog), had a few of my first Japanese-roasted peanuts and discussed the weather. (When you don’t speak the language, small talk is about all you can contribute.)
I met one of his aunts, an uncle and his cousin who lived in Delaware for seven years. I also met the other two [big] dogs who were secluded to prevent a stampede.
After my drink and multiple cheek-kisses and ciaos, we headed out for Meli’s parent’s house.
Jorge’s mother is fluent in English and wished me “Happy New Year” on our way out the door.
We arrived at Meli’s parent’s house around 10:15. Everyone was wearing white and enjoying small finger foods in the downstairs living room. Cecilia taught Oli how to do Brazilian dances with her shoulders and she put on two mini-shows for us atop the ottoman.
The dinner table was setup with masks for the women and light-up glasses for the men, accompanied by various other light-up accessories.
I continued with the JWB on the rocks before it was time to eat (around 11).
Before we sat down at the table, ribbons were passed around to everyone to wear. There were four colors: red, blue, yellow and green, which signified different things.
Red = love
Green = hope
Yellow = gold (fortune)
Blue = health
I tied mine into a string and made a necklace out of it, which I will undoubtedly wear as long as I can.*
For dinner, we had three different types of casserole – ground beef, chicken and cheese. In addition, we had ensalada (Olivia taught me that in the car), rice with onions & garlic, and lentils, which are for good luck in the coming year.
Roberto gave a toast, in Portuguese, which Baba translated for us:
“With the closing of 2010, many great things happened. May everyone’s good fortune and prosperity continue into and throughout 2011.”
Dinner discussion varied from babies and loved ones to football (American) and…motor-boating.
Odd item to discuss at the dinner table, but it came up because Guga’s red ribbon had fallen down into her bra and Baba pulled it out, and said, “What is the red ribbon for?”
Guga replied, “Love.”
To which Baba pointed out that it was down between her breasts and now signified “motor-boating.”
Meli, Jorge, Caca, Guga, Tad and I laughed, and Meli even went so far as to make the “bwwrrrrr” sound while shaking her head side-to-side.
Baba explained it to her parents, who found it a tiny bit less amusing.
After dinner, we all put on our masks (or glasses) and took several candid photos before retiring to the outdoors with the noise makers which Roberto had purchased.
There was the constant sound of fireworks exploding almost the entire time I was in Paraguay, but it increased exponentially around 7 p.m. on NYE (Oli was not very fond) and lasted well into the morning (5-6 a.m.), with a peak around 1.
We took a group picture and then sat around and talked until around 2, when we started cleaning up the dinner table and saying our goodbyes.
Olivia was asleep on the couch by this time, so Jorge carried her to the car and just held her the entire ride home.
We arrived, said our goodnights and went to bed.
I watched the remainder of The Notebook, listened to fireworks and eventually drifted off to sleep around 3 – just as I began receiving a flurry of text messages from my U.S.-based friends.