Take Your Child To Work Day ...

... because who doesn't suit up in Marine Security Guard React Gear and make "War Faces?"


Splash. Pedal. Dash.

Forty kids participated in our first Embassy triathlon today.  An event that brought families and friends together for a day of physical exertion, mental toughness and camaraderie.  It.  Was.  Awesome!  Not only did everything run like a well oiled machine, but never have I seen a competition where every single person was supporting every single child.  We cheered.  We teared.  We took pictures galore. 

The Perl kids did quite well today too.  Grady didn't complain nearly as much as we had anticipated, and actually came in third for his age group.  Sheridan came in fifth for her age group and was the second girl to cross the finish line.  And Riley, no stranger to the triathlon circuit,  put it all out there and came in third in her age group and was the first girl. 

A great Sunday morning without the iPads ... iPhones ... XBoxes.  

Just pure sweat and perseverance.   


Making The Padres Proud ...

Another stellar quarter for the Perlman girlies.  Both girls made the school Honor Roll, with Riley also making the Principal's Honor Roll for the third quarter in a row. 

If that wasn't enough for today's awards assembly, Riley received her certificate and medal for winning the best project for the 6th grade Science Fair.

And if that STILL wasn't good enough, Riley found out during the assembly that her group was awarded 1st place for best project during the World Culture Fair. 


El Seder

Matt hadn't even been at our new post of El Salvador more than a week before he was approached by our DCM (Deputy Chief of Mission) about planning the Passover Seder.  Nine.  Months.  Away. 

The Jewish Community here is small and secular, with until recently, nobody like our friends from our previous post in Chennai, India who could help plan Jewish Holiday events. 

Over the course of the past several months, the topic of Passover would come up in passing, and I would always acknowledge that if when the time came it was still something the community would want to attend, I would host it.  However, up until four weeks ago, I didn't realize that hosting it really meant, doing all of it myself. 

So, with no time to spare, and a week long vacation out of the country, the Embassy Community Passover Seder of 2015 was on.

With the first and second night Passover falling during Semana Santa (the Holy Week preceding Easter) and all the kids off for Spring Break, we knew most of the families who would attend the Seder were going to be out of town.  Thus, we decided to hold our Seder on the final evening of Passover, this past Friday evening.  

Despite the mad dash of ordering the Matzah and all of the things needed to host the Seder with less than four weeks to plan, the evening turned out even better than I could have anticipated.

With the right combination of Jewish humor and religious piety, our DCM led a beautiful Seder, with over 90 people attending, including the Ambassador.  

Of course, no Seder is complete without Matzah Ball Soup and Manishevitz ... though with the shipping restrictions, I wasn't able to have Gefilte Fish sent in ... much to many's dismay.  As this was more of a cultural affair (Seder 101), we did have our fair share of Chametz and non-Kosher fare.  Which made our potluck dinner all the more tasty.  

We were blessed to have so many friends attend the festivities.  With several helping to set up, and even more staying to clean, dare I admit that I'm already anticipating what a blowout event Passover 2016 will be? 

L'Shana HaBa'ah B'El Salvador.


A "Wonder"-Ful Adventure

The taxi to Ollantaytambo picked us up from our hotel in Urubamba around 12:30 pm and dropped us off in plenty of time to catch our train to Machu Picchu.  It was a quick 1.5 hour ride to Aguas Caliente, where we were met with our first REAL bout of rain.  But weather be damned, we weren’t going to miss this opportunity of a lifetime, so once we checked into our overpriced and underwhelming hotel, we were off to purchase our tickets for the next day. 

Aguas Caliente is a small town at the bottom of the valley next to Machu Picchu, and the principal access point to the site.  Despite its magnificent setting, it’s not the most pleasant town, and after walking around for 20 minutes, we saw pretty much everything it had to offer.

The bus stopped in front our hotel at 10:10 am the next morning to transport us up to Machu Picchu.  The twenty minute ride zig-zagged up the middle of the cloud forest on a dirt road with no guard rails.  It. Was. Scary.  When we exited the bus we were immediately bombarded with tour guides, who spoke a myriad of languages, at the ready to take us around.  We hired the first one who spoke English.

Nothing quite prepares you for the jaw dropping views when you first walk through the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu.  The serenity of the site situated at an altitude of 8000 feet is humbling as the only sounds you hear are those of the tourists around you and the rushing waters of the rivers below.

While the history of the Incas and Machu Picchu is long, the short version of how it was discovered is that while searching for another Inca refuge in 1911, Hiram Bingham, an American historican and lecturer at Yale University, was led up to Machu Picchu by a local 11 year-old Quechuas boy.  Since the Inca capital was never found or plundered by the Spanish, over the centuries the surrounding jungle grew over much of the site, and few knew of its existence. 

We spent 2 hours with the guide and another hour touring on our own, even climbing to the highest point at this site.  However, both time and agility prevented us from trekking up the two additional trails to Huchuy Picchu or to Huayna Picchu (aptly pronounced whine-a-picchu or wine-a-picchu for those who know me well). 
Every good thing must come to an end, and after almost 4 hours, it was time to descend the mountain (with our eyes closed, of course). We grabbed a quick lunch in Aguas Caliente before boarding our train back to Cusco, where we then enjoyed the bi-modal service of a 1.5 hour train ride followed up with a 1 hr 45 minute BUS ride. 

Our flight from Cusco left early the next day, and after a taxi ride to the airport, 3 planes, a 4-hour layover in Panama and an hour ride back to our house once we arrived at midnight in El Salvador,   We.  Were.  Done.  

Peru was an amazing adventure, but frankly, there's no place like home.

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