Never got to recap my time in Parana on May 8th/9th...I found a couchsurfing host there for 2 nights, Walter. Walter picked me up at the airport. We dropped my stuff off at his place, which definitely inside seemed like a place you could find in Chicago or New York, it was really nice. The first thing he did was bust out these menus from a restaurant in Amarillo, Texas from where he went on a one month Rotary exchange program. Anyways, it was pretty funny that I recognized the menus from having been there in 2006.
Anyways, Parana is like a small big city. It has maybe 400,000 people. It is quite hilly and is set along the Parana river, so it is very green and beautiful. We went down to the waterfront walkway which was mobbed with people strolling along, sitting, and drinking mate. We bumped into plenty of people that Walter knew just walking along.
After about 3 hours, I started to lose my voice, which would really suck for the rest of the weekend and lead to my weeklong cold.
It was actually Walter´s birthday weekend. So that night, about 15 of his friends, including 2 of his brothers and their wives, came over. There was plenty of food, including empanadas and some great beef sandwiches, as well as drinks from cerveza to fernet & coke to wine. Everyone was really friendly. I talked sporadically, because my voice was deteriorating by the hour. They probably thought I was weird because of this, but oh well, nobody could hear a dang thing I said. Nonetheless, everyone came over around 1030. I was informed later we would be going to a club. OK, just do what everyone else does. Well, we were on serious Argentinian time, and didn´t leave the apartment for the club until 315AM! Talk about a marathon.
They thought it would be funny if I wore a Parana soccer jersey. Needless to say, many people here and there all night were commenting and I hadn´t a clue. Again, I wasn´t even able to respond cause of my voice. In the end, we left this place at 645 AM, and there were still plenty of people there. New Record.
Sunday, in the afternoon I joined Walter and two of his friends and we went down to the waterfront to drink mate. Couldn´t think of a more typical Sunday afternoon. Around 8pm, his family started to arrive at his place for a birthday gathering. By 9pm, about 20 of his family members (only half his total family) were over, and we were eating pizza and more steak sandwiches. It was great, but also terrible, because I really couldn´t talk to anyone cause of my voice. They probably thought I was either a mute or didn´t know any Spanish. It was fun just being there though.
I caught a 1am bus that night, and my cold progressed to full scale after I had arrived in Mercedes 9 hours later. It probably didn´t help to stay out to 7AM, but the cold spiral had already started a few days before, and it was another unique experience.
Walter and his friends:
They put the jersey from some Parana team on me:
At a club for host Walter's birthday party:
Hanging near the water on Sunday: