Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Well, the little tour we did last weekend went well and was a lot of fun! First stop was a town called Pedro Juan Caballero, over on the Brazilian border. The ride over on the bus was amazing - the country here is gorgeous! It was looking a little bit like something out of Lost, and then these huge mountains came up out of nowhere -

(These are not my pictures, by the way. My camera will be coming with my parents in May. Turns out, I was an idiot and it will work after all. Meanwhile, thank you, Internet.)

But I digress. So, amazing scenery on the bus. My friends assure me there are monkeys on top of the mountain in that first picture.

The next day we played in San Bernardino (San Ber, if you want to sound local). It's a resort town by a big lake, and it's beautiful. Apparently it's THE vacation spot around here. We had a few hours to kill while we waited for some rain to stop, and so we ended up hanging around the Hotel del Lago. It was built in 1888, and is right on the lake.

If you walk behind the building, there's a huge balcony overlooking a little lagoon-pool area overlooking the lake. Completely gorgeous. A friend from the orchestra was walking around with me, and he showed me how you can just pick coconuts up off the ground, smash them with a rock, and eat them. Very paradisical.While we were waiting to play, some of the orchestra members rented a room so that we would all have a place to change and get ready (the one room we were supposed to share with the singers was just ridiculously crowded). I went and put on my black clothes and started to leave the room, but the other orchestra girls weren't having it. Before I knew it, they sat me down on a bed, one started doing a fancy braid in my hair and another doing my makeup while a bunch of them asked me about my boyfriend. It was like a scene from some silly chick flick, really, ha! But it really was so sweet. They've made me feel so welcome here!

We played our concert of happy, catchy Paraguayan folk-type stuff, and all went well. One of the coolest things came next, though. As an encore, a dancer did a traditional "Bottle Dance." Apparently it's popular at celebrations and festivals and stuff. Here's how it works:

Girl in festive traditional dress puts a wine bottle on her head and dances around. She bows (with bottle still on head), everybody claps. Then she walks over to a guy on a ladder, who adds another bottle. Dips, spins, dances, bows, claps. Back to the dude for a third bottle. Etc. Apparently they go up to twenty bottles, but because we had ended up playing inside due to the aforementioned rain, this girl only did five or so to avoid hitting the ceiling. Yawn, right? Here's what it looks like:

(Above, you can see the guy in the background loading up another girl while this one bows. And below, someone farther along.)

So, yeah. Danza de los botellas. Very cool. They do it to a sort of polka-y music and everybody claps. I didn't catch much of what the emcee said at the concert so I'm not sure what we were celebrating, but there were fireworks after the show and it was a really fun end to a long and exhausting trip!

I'm really glad that this mini-tour happened right at the beginning of my time here. Trips like these are always a great way to get to know people, and I got to make friends with a lot of the other musicians and singers while we were on the road. However, I was very happy to get back to Giselle at rehearsal today! Love, love, love the music we're playing. :)

Oh, and most of you have heard my good news on Facebook, but for anyone who hasn't, I got another job! In addition to my orchestra gig, I'm going to be the flute teacher at the Universidad Evangelica del Paraguay. I'll have six undergrad music majors there - two flute majors, and four beginning flute as a secondary instrument. Playing opera/ballet and teaching a small college studio? Perfect. Completely perfect.


  1. Hi, Ali! I just started following your blog so I can keep up with your adventures! So glad you are doing well! Take care!

  2. This sounds absolutely amazing sis!

  3. Oh it's just so perfect! You deserve it. You've worked hard to get there and they are lucky to have you.

  4. Estoy contento que todo parezca bien! Quiero ver la danza de las botellas en vivo!