December 2011: Perú

A big warm welcome from the kids in kinder. It was the sweetest thing ever!

Time for Christmas gifts for everyone!

Lemar´t´s coat .... he loved it so much that he didn´t want to take it off even he was sweating!

Claudio came and asked me to put his shirt on.

Lemar´t and Claudio with their gifts on them.

My dear Lemar´t and me with big smiles.

Anel was very excited with her gift from me and Eve.

The girls were super happy with their tiaras from Eve. Thanks sis!

Lemar´t is like a big brother to the babies, including Antony.

Daisy and a few other girls taught me how to play this game. It was fun!

My day to prepare a Chinese lunch for everyone. Thankfully Olga and Lilith both helped me so much with it. Here was fresh strawberries milkshake.

5 flavors spareribs. Everyone was raving about it for days. From what I´ve heard from Olga, they still do! Many tias asked me for the recipe too.

Alcides was a big help that day as well. One of the things was he cooked the fried rice for me.

Walter and Olga helped frying the spring rolls.

Aldair was so cute!

Claudio always carries a million watts smile!

The kids never waste food!

Lemar´t with his new runners. He´s so much bigger now!

One of the 30 new kids, Paul, and I became fast friends.

The first step when I went into the new home of NPH Perú, I was so excited to see my children again. The house was so big though that I couldn't see anyone. As I went further in, an army of crumbling legs ran out with a big poster saying "Bienvenidos Tio Ryan, te queremos mucho!" (Welcome Uncle Ryan, we love you very much!). I was so overwhelmed with joy as they came closer and gave me hugs around my legs. The leading 'man' was Lemar't, who had a sunshine smile on his face. There were many new faces as well, and they also gave me hugs. It was such a sweet moment, and I just loved to be around them again.

Then I went to the dining room where everyone was having lunch. I was overwhelmed by all the smiles across the hall, and the tias later told me that they had to stop them from running off and greet me! I was Milagros with a big poster saying welcome to me as well. I was so excited that I was literally jumping up and down like a kid! I was quite hungry before, but then I was too excited that I felt butterflies in my stomach, and I didn't feel like eating until night time!

It was so nice finally there to unload at least half of my backpack which was full of their gifts. I presented to them to each individual house (babies, boys, girls, teenage boys, teenage girls), and it was so nice to see them so happy and pleased with the gifts.

I also made a Chinese lunch for them one day. Because the house has 30 more children now, so the serving size has grown up to 150! Benito and I went to the market at 6:30am, and we bought a whole load of stuff. In the menu were five flavored spareribs, fried rice, spring rolls and strawberry milkshake. Volunteers, Olga and Lilith, Alcides and the cook helped me with the cooking and preparation, and it was a lot of hard work but also a lot of fun. But most importantly was that they enjoyed the food so much. Many tias later asked me for the recipe for the spareribs! And they kept telling me day after day that the food was delicious. I was so pleased, and I was so happy to be able to share what I can do.

Leaving wasn't exactly, but knowing that I will be back there to see them again does make a difference. Although Milagros was crying when I was leaving. I gave her a big hug for a long time and told her that no matter when I am, I will always love her, and she will always be in my heart. Everybody was asking me when I will go back again. It is so important for them to know that I (or anybody) do care about them enough to travel a long way to visit them. It helps them feel special, and it is a very valuable thing. And the bottom line is that I do want to visit them, and when I was there, I can feel so much love that not many people can experience. I feel truly privileged. And they always remind me the important value that being happy is actually very simple. When we look at things in a simpler way, and if we appreciate every single things in life and be thankful with everything, happiness is always there with you.

December 2011: Iguaçu & Buenos Aires

Majestic view from the Brazilian side with the classic rainbow.

The power of Iguaçu.

When you are this near to the Devil's throat, you get soaking wet but also very exciting emotion!

Esteban and I were amazed by the beauty of the falls.

The colorful houses in La Boca, Buenos Aires.

The three iconic Argentine figures showcased in La Boca.

The serenity of Tigre.

Happy Christmas 2011!

If I had to choose the most amazing place that I have ever visited, the Iguazú Falls between Argentina and Brazil was definitely one of them. Before visiting there, I was already very excited because I know already that it is a marvelous place, but being up close and personal to this gigantic and powerful fall is definitely an one of a kind experience in a lifetime! When I walked closer and closer to the falls, my heart was pounding and overwhelmed by the power and beauty of nature. A gal next to me proclaimed, "Es como una mentira!" (It's like a lie). You got all soaked and wet, but also a piece of indescribable joy in your heart.

After visiting the grandeur waterfalls, I went back to one of my favorite cities in the world, Buenos Aires. This time I got to do a bit of touring around the city that I didn't do the last time. La Boca was one of the highlights, and it was a very interesting neighborhood with colorful houses and touristy facilities lined around it. It took forever to get there, but it was well worth the trip as it has a very unique latin ambiance. I also took a half day trip to Tigre, an outskirt town near Buenos Aires with beautiful river views. It is actually another touristy spot, but it has a very sweet tone to this town. But the day was suddenly so cold (Esteban said that because the wind direction moved from north to south, which came from Patagonia), and I was dressed like any summer day! So I rushed back to Buenos Aires after seeing the charming town briefly.

Another highlight of this trip is definitely gastronomy! As Esteban said, you can eat well in Argentina. And I did! Steaks, alfajores, pizzas, ice-cream, wines, all were absolutely sublime. On 21st December, we celebrated Esteban's birthday, and I made a cheesecake for him. And as for Christmas celebration, I made a six-course Asian meal. I really do love cooking, and it made me very happy that he did enjoy the food very much. Afterwards, we went out for a strode in the city, and he took me to corners of the neighborhood that I hadn't been to. It had Christmas trees, lights, and it was a bit chilled still. It really felt like Christmas.

Good times passed so quickly, and I had had most fun that I haven't had for a long time. But I am also very excited because the next stop would be Perú where I would see my children!