With Kelly, Robert, Ed and Chris in tow, we met with Ana Paula and her beau, Luciano, at the Curitiba airport. Renting a second car to carry the mass of bodies and baggage, we headed out of the city limits to a reservoir lake called Capivari wherein Ana's family has a lake house (or should I say lake estate). The property is located on 10 hectares and the property next to and a couple of properties over are owned by other family members. The lake home is a multi-bedroom, multi-bathroom beauty that Tere, Ana's mother helped design. Needless to say, when finally reached the end of their impressive drive, we were exasperatingly surprised and exceedingly pleased with our lodgings for the next few days.
We especially knew we were in the right place when after dinner, Paulo, Ana's father, recommended that we retire to his "bar", a cozy nook under the main part of the home kept temperature controlled by the natural coolness of the soil encased walls.
Rather full from terrific food and many caipirinhas (a lime and Brazilian rum drink that is tastily lethal), we settled into our collective rooms for the night. Each room with its own spectacular view of the calm lake and the bright moon.
Before we totally retire this day, a little background on Paulo and Tere. Paulo and Tere are parents to three outstanding young adults: Ana Paula, Fabio and Isabela. Gerson has been a long-time friend with their cousin, Marco, and through Marco we met Julio, another cousin and boyfriend to Bela. Soon thereafter, we met Fabio and his girlfriend Lili to be shortly followed by Bela as she came with Julio when he returned to the United States after a short stint in Brasil.
Are you lost yet? Well, there's more...see, Marco, Julio and the three siblings have three brothers as their grandfathers, hence their cousin connection. And yes, Julio and Bela are (methinks) third cousins (and no, not a problem when they get married). Now, to throw another name into the lot, Marco just got engaged to Paula (congratulations Marco), so another similar name to juggle into the mix.
Now, many of you have probably met Fabio, Lili and Marco as they helped us with the food during our wedding. And, many of you may know that Julio was the mechanical genius behind preparing Cindy for her journey. Also, Julio and Bela lived in our home for several months prior to returning to Brasil (the reunion with their family is forthcoming). We have great friendships with these wonderful people and spending this time at the lake with them just made us realize family can be anywhere the laughter is and the hugs are, no matter what language is spoken.
Gerson and I got up relatively early to have a little lake time with Fabio and Lili. Piecing together a rope and scavenging Fabio's old wakeboard, we were only four on a lake for thousands. When we finished our first runs, we found our late-risers eagerly awaiting their ride in the boat and their turns on the board. There is just something to be said for that first ride on a wakeboard and those sore arms afterward. It just somehow makes the beer taste better.
After the lake, it was time for the sun, pool and refreshments. Lunch was served in what I call the "upper bar-b-que/party" room and the entire day was spent enjoying doing very little.
Our final day at this wonderful place was spent indulging in yet more food and drink. A bar-b-que was made for Ana's birthday and I am still looking for the army they planned to feed. Much of the Caron family was in attendance and the party was a complete success. When you see the picture of the ribs alone, you will know why...
We sadly departed as we had to let Robert and Kelly go home and begrudgingly we left them at the airport. If you are keeping track, we started with seven, lost three and now have parted with two more. That leaves two and those two are Ed and Chris. We stayed a day with Gerson's sister, Marjorie, and Ed and Chris were treated to a day of just hanging with a fantastic family.
We left the next day to head back to the beach and stay a couple of days at Camboriu (again, at Gabriel's apartmento). The weather cooperated and we had plenty of time to wander the beach and take a day trip to a more southern beach. Unfortunately, Chris did not join us because a certain person was yet again missing in the morning.
Gerson, Ed and I discovered a nice little beach where we spent several hours just sitting under the umbrella and floating in the turquoise water. Not much to do but people watch and Ed definitely had a people to watch...
The next day, we managed a brief breakfast with Gabriel and thanked him profusely for his generosity and kindness. We headed back to Curitiba to meet up with Julio and Bela, just returned home after living in the United States for 2 1/2 years (I told you I would get to their family reunion). I was very happy to see them because just a few days prior, my laptop completely crashed (heck, it was only eight years old) and I had them pick me up new laptop and bring it to Brasil (the cost for a laptop in Brasil is anywhere between 2x to 3x the cost in the US). With every page I am now publishing, I whisper a thanks to Julio and Bela.
We met up with Julio and Bela and the rest of the clan at a churrascaria later that evening. Ok, more food and laughter...
If the churascaria was not enough, Julio's mom and dad hosted a party at their business warehouse again, another mouth-watering bar-b-que (Julio built a huge bar-b-que in the warehouse - my kind of boss!) and this time, we had a live band. The party was celebrating the return home of Julio and Bela as well as Fabio and Lili. Unfortunately, we had to leave a bit on this side of midnight because we had an early flight to Santiago the next morning. We said our sad good-byes and left feeling exhausted and exhilarated. We will miss all of them.
We left Ed and Chris at a hotel (as they flew out later the next day) and we made our flight to Santiago to experience a reunion of our own...our reunion with our baby, Cindy.
And lest I forget, I want to sincerely and passionately thank everyone that made the past month so incredibly memorable. From Gerson's sister, Marjorie, and her family to Gerson's extended family of aunts, uncles, cousins and not to mention the wonderful friends that too, make up his family (and mine now). My thanks to the Caron/Harres crew and all of the family and friends that embraced the whole lot of us. And, a special thanks to Lori, James, Carol, Chris, Robert, Kelly and Ed for immeasurably enhancing our time in Brasil with an extra-special thanks to Kelly and Ed whose photographic contribution to these past few pages have allowed me to publish some of the best I have written thus far (and not to mention, spending a whole lot more hours filtering through over 1500 photos). It was what life is supposed to be about...