So, here we go...
Four words. It got dark fast. I thought I recognized the silohuette of my father-in-law standing by what could have been his front entrance, near what was possibly the corner where I definitely wanted to stop. But I wasn't sure. I figured since these colectivos run back and forth all day, I would just wait until we came back this way again and get off then.
Two words. Last stop. When the colectivo got to the 'depot', or the owners oversized yard, the driver looked at me, his sole passneger and asked in Spanish, "Where are you going?" I responded with the only familiar address I knew: Kilometro 21.
OK, so kilometro 21 is NOT an address, per se. It is actually a point on the main (paved) road where the gas station is. This is where you turn into the miles of back-country, cobblestone or dirt roads which weave their way through the countryside. It apperently is NOT my in-laws address. Well, it's where we always mailed their letters and stuff. Come to find out that all the mail for all of these people living back here goes to one location; on the main road. They have to pick it up from there. If you are ever going to Paraguay, be sure and watch several early episodes of 'The Waltons' first. You will be better prepared.
So this kid (15?) gets on the bus. He and the driver speak to each other in Guarani. That's an indigenous langauge that I do not speak. I only speak castellano (spanish). He smiles at me knowingly. I have heard of the dangers of being out in these areas at night and I am not liking how things are panning out here. Another man gets on the bus. The kids speaks guarani to him. He laughs as he looks at me. Easy prey, I am thinking. I am really going to have to call on Jesus soon. A woman gets on the bus. Everyone speaking guarani. Everyone laughing. OK, so now I am the butt of some early evening guarani joke, which will probably become folklore in later generations. She looks at me with concern. They speak some more. The bus driver waits for 2 more guys. He starts the bus. "OK", I think, "we're off." I won't miss the stop this time!
The woman explains to me that this bus is no longer operating for the evening. The driver is taking some of the bus 'company' employees home for the night. One of the employees lives near kilometro 21 and he will be sure I get there safely. Whew!
I get off the bus with this guy and he asks me where my family lives. I tell him, kilometro 21. He looked very confused. We start walking. I explain to him where my familia lives the best I can AND as it should be explained to any respectable Paraguayan. You see, they don't give directions in Paraguay like we do in the states. Try to follow along. As I said, I explain where my in-laws live: On the corner where the man has his property line dilineated with the half tires sticking out of the ground so people won't drive on his dirt; around the corner where the lady has a tienda with a TV in the front of her house and the other night when Paraguay beat Germany, everyone was watching in front of her store; it's three turns in from the church where they have the banner out front announcing all of the activities for semana santa; their names are Vicente and Felipa Ayala. "OH! I know where that is!", he says. We keep walking. We pass the church that is three turns out from their house. Yep! walk right by it! I am pleading with him to recognize the church as I do. He insists that kilometro 21 is that way; past the church. Then we pass another place; a house to which my father-in-law and I walked so that I could check my email; they have internet, for a fee. "Wait!" I say. "I know this place." I explain my previous day's journey to him. He continues to insist that kilometro 21 is 'that way'.
We pass by several other familiar sights. I don't bother saying anything because I know that kilometro 21 is that way.
I can now see 'kilometro 21'. It is well lit, there is a gas staion, some taxis, some people hanging around, loud music. That is NOT my in-laws house! I thank him and walk the rest by myself.
It has been about 2 hours since I last saw Julian.
To be Continued...