As we drove away from our hotel in the chill of an autumn morning in Foz do Iguaçu, I really felt as though I didn’t even care about seeing the beautiful spectacle that I had been excited about for the last two years. The day before, we had hugged and kissed our host families goodbye, and I was ready to go home. Traveling by airplane and bus to a different part of Brazil seemed too much. Telling the people that I now counted as my family goodbye made me want nothing more than to see my blood family immediately. But, there were still a few days between me and my family, and we were going to have the privilege of seeing Iguaçu Falls as our last hurrah in Brazil.

When we arrived in Parque Nacional do Iguaçu, our first glimpse of the falls was breath-taking, and the views only got better as we walked. All I could say was, “Wow, wow, wow!” Walking the pathway to the upper limit of the falls with a few other students and the professors and then going on a boat ride under the falls were experiences filled with many moments of laughter and camaraderie. Rather than focusing on the imminence of our return to the US, I found that I needed to stay in the moment to soak it all up!  Even though initially I would have preferred to rush home after our visit to São Paulo, it turned out that our visit to Iguaçu was absolutely essential. I think of a line in one of Jeremy Camp’s songs, “Help me live with my eyes wide open,” and it feels like the stance that we’ve been taking on this trip. Staying in the moment and living into each moment with wide open eyes to see and enjoy is definitely one of the biggest life lessons I am taking from this trip. 

I would also like to add that a moment I enjoyed multiple times which brought a lot of laughter throughout the day was drinking water. Yes, you heard me correctly. When Dr. McPherson bought our supply of bottled water for our stay in Foz, he accidentally bought many liters of water com gás (carbonated) instead of sem gás (uncarbonated), so every time I unscrewed the cap of my water bottle to take a drink, a fountain poured forth from the pressurized straw! Even something as silly as this was part of the unforgettableness of the experience, and I learned to enjoy the moment.

Our day ended with all of us going our own ways in groups to find dinner, and I went to a Chinese restaurant with a few other girls. Every moment was already special because we knew it was almost the last day of our experience in Brazil together, but the laughter really peaked when our orders came and we realized that what we had thought were single dishes on the menu were actually dishes to be shared among three or more people! We ate what we could and took the rest home, and none of us will ever forget that lesson! Now as we look towards our homes, I hope and pray that we will continue, even there in the mundane and routine, to stay in the moment and live with our eyes wide open.


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