So, once again, time has gotten away from me and my blog has been idle. The biggest news from the past few months was our wedding, so I’ll start there!
October in Michigan
Cliver and I left Iquitos October first, beginning my month long vacation and Cliver’s whirlwind visit to Michigan. We got off the plane in Grand Rapids and were met by my mom, my brothers, Jamie, Coco, and Hillary. We headed directly to buy a suit for Cliver and for Tim. We then had a drink and it was off to David’s Bridal to see about a dress for me. Dress shopping is almost never a one stop, first try, perfect fit experience for me, but it somehow all worked out! We walked out with a dress that I really liked, it was a miracle, I honestly expected to have to settle for whatever was available. We picked up the boys who were getting very well acquainted over a few drinks, had dinner, and headed to Fremont. Cliver met dad the next day, and the rest of the week was pretty much a blur! We went to White Cloud to apply for our marriage license, which we had to pick up Saturday before the wedding, at the county jail!
We did some more shopping for wedding and rehearsal dinner clothes, and met with Kevin Schappert who officiated the ceremony. Cliver and I also went to Lake Michigan, while he has been to the States many times, he has never been in our neck of the woods. It was a beautiful day, Cliver was impressed by our lovely lake, definitely something I miss from Michigan!
|At Lake Michigan|
Our rehearsal dinner was held at the Gerber Guest House, where the ceremony would be the next day. Since Cliver’s family couldn’t be there, my mom’s amazing friends took over to be Cliver’s “tias”, preparing everything for the party, making everything perfect! Cliver and I made pisco sours to share a little taste of Peru with everyone. The day of the wedding, after heading to the jail, I had my nails done and had a lunch shower with my best friends from high school. Kari even joined us from Arizona via skype. It was nice to be able to have that moment with them before the big event, it’s been so long since we were all together! Coco did my hair and makeup for the wedding, I loved it, it was very glamorous- I don’t think Cliver recognized me! Hillary was my matron of honor, and Jamie also stood up with us, along with my brothers. My nieces and nephews participated too, and were adorable. Everything was perfect, thanks to my mom and her friends who put everything together. The weather was a little chilly, but we had a little sunshine break through the clouds during the ceremony. Our rings are beautiful, my mom had them made for us. My ring is made from white gold from my dad’s wedding band and a diamond from my grandma, Cliver’s ring is made from gold from my grandma’s ring and three diamonds from my mom. They are truly one of a kind. The reception was held at the Stone Lodge in Fremont, a good time was had by all! Thank you to everyone who made the day so memorable and special for us!
After a little relaxation at home, Cliver and I headed to Chicago for a couple of nights at the Hard Rock Hotel, thanks to my cousin Tracy! It was definitely the coolest hotel I have ever stayed in, in a very beautiful building. Cliver and I saw some sights in Chicago and did some shopping. It was his first time in the Windy City. I wish we had more time, but it was already time for Cliver to fly back to Peru, sadly I dropped him of at O’Hare and drove back to Fremont.
|At the Sears (Willis) Tower|
The rest of my time in Michigan went by pretty fast although I was missing my new husband! I took care of my name change on my drivers license, social security card, etc. Officially my new name is Megan Thomas de Rioja, having two last names will make things a lot easier in Peru where everyone uses two last names. I went with my mom and Tim to visit my grandma in Decatur IL, and before I knew it, it was time for me to head back to Peru too!
Back in Peru my library students were anxiously waiting to see my wedding photos (thanks Jane!) and my wedding video (thanks John!). They made us a huge wedding poster with lots of cards and drawings, it was super sweet. I don’t think they recognized me in my dress with my makeup and hair done either! They thought it was really funny to see Cliver and I kiss on the video! Cliver’s family was also very excited to see our pictures, he waited for me to come home before he showed them any! We had our annual library spelling bee when I returned, it was a success- we had a great turn out, almost 200 students. Andrea, one of our library students from Palmeras, won first place. Cliver and I spent our first Thanksgiving together in Iquitos. I was at the library during the day and made it back to Iquitos around 5:00, no time to make a real turkey for Cliver, so I made him one out of paper and glitter at the library! We had a nice dinner at a restaurant.
|Our Wedding Card From My Students|
December started with Conapac’s annual community evaluations. For two weeks we visited all 58 communities that Conapac works with, plus two additional communities that are interested in joining the organization. It is a long process, but always interesting. Each year I get to go to some communities that I have never been to before, as well as visit some that I have gotten to know well. It is a great feeling to visit a remote little village on the Amazon and be greeted by name! After the evaluations were finished, we held our first spelling bee in the native Yagua language! We didn’t have too many participants, and there were some bugs to work out, but I think overall it was a success. We worked directly with some of the teachers from the Palmeras school, and as long as they are on board we will make this an annual event and invite more native Yagua communities that are involved with Conapac. We wrapped up the year at the library with our annual Chocolatada parties. Like last year, we had one party at Sapo Playa and another one at the main branch, serving hot chocolate and panetones (bread with fruit chunks). I spent the holidays in Iquitos with Cliver. We went to his sister’s house for Christmas Eve. It was very nice, I made mashed potatoes, banana cream pie, and sangria. Cliver’s mom and sisters made turkey and special Christmas rice with raisins. In Peru Christmas Eve is the big event, everyone lights of fireworks at midnight and stays out celebrating all night. We stayed out until 5:30 or so, and slept all day the 25th! We spent New Year’s Eve together too for the first time, we went out with friends.
2013 is off to a busy start at the library, right away we had our hand embroidery workshop with Bella Lane, it was great!! We had two full days to work with Bella, she taught us how to make arpilleras, a traditional Peruvian embroidery. Everyone did a great job, we even had some kids participate too. Bella and her husband John , are so much fun to work with, it was a real treat for all of us! Right after Bella’s workshop we had a visit from our supporters at the International Fund For Economic Development out of Atlanta Georgia. We had submitted a proposal to them to upgrade all of the technology at the library, and while one of the members has been here many times, the others wanted to see first hand what this proposal was all about. We had a great time together, and they decided to continue to support our library with new solar panel batteries and new computers! They also brought us a new inverter which will allow us to really make maximum use of our solar panels, and will allow us to finally use our projector! What a great start to 2013 for the library! We are just starting our annual inventories at both branches, when we finish we will open for full days until school starts for the kids again in March.
|My Favorite Arpillera from Bella's Workshop|