“Oh no, not again!” Anne walks nervously around the pile of luggage in the middle of the Asuncion airport. Her slender figure looks a bit scruffy because of her nerves and the long trip. She is normally always calm and self-possessed but not in this case. Arnold and Jeremy are looking for Jane and talking to the police.
“Mama, I’m coming home. I got lost at the airport, then I took a taxi to the house,” Anne reads the text message on her cell phone. She sighs. Oh, Jane….
While Jane’s mother is reading the message, Jane is enjoying the company of her new friend. “How beautiful your country is,“ says Jane. Her Spanish came back to her so easily. They speak it at home all the time, especially with her grandmother.
“Yes, we are in the east part of the country. It has beautiful green fields and mountains. There are lots of valleys with streams and lakes here,” the boy says.
“My grandmother used to tell me many stories about these forests and cities,” Jane says. “She is from Bella Vista.”
“So she is Paraguayan!”
“Yes, she lives in Chicago now. She is too old to travel.”
” Well, I also know a lot about the Guarani Indians and the early Spanish Carians. In fact, my parents have written many of the stories down.”
“Really?” Jane says, her eyes growing wide. She presses her arrowhead again.
“We are here,” says the boy. “This is your new house.” He opens the door and they get out of the taxi.
“Jane, Jane!” Her Mom is shouting and waving at her from another taxi that is just arriving. Jane waits for her family to get out of the taxi.
“Thank you for bringing her home,” says Jane’s father. He looks at Jane with narrow eyes. “We will talk later, young lady.” He smiles at the boy and says, ”Now I need to apologize but I need to get the luggage into the house.” He sticks out his hand toward the boy. “Thank you, again, Mr…?, he adds without finishing the sentence.
“Miguel Ángel. My name is Miguel Ángel Montoya,” says the boy and shakes hands with Jane’s Dad and Mom.
“Is your family related to Juan Carlos Montoya, the famous writer?” Anne asks, surprised.
“He’s my father,” says Miguel Ángel.
“Amazing!” says Arnold. “I’m a writer too. I am so pleased to met you Miguel Ángel, my name is Arnold, and I’m Jane’s father. My mother is Paraguayan, and I feel Paraguayan too although I was not born here.” He bends down to pick up some luggage. “Excuse me, I’m busy with the bags, but I am following the conversation. Keep talking with Jane.”
Perfect, thinks Jane and her face lit up. If my parents like him, then anything is possible.
Now everything seems to be fitting together for Jane. This trip is really the adventure of a lifetime. She cannot ask for more. What great luck she is having. She rubs the arrowhead between her fingers.
While her parents are talking animatedly with Miguel Ángel her thoughts are spinning about her new life in Paraguay. It cannot be better!
“Hello, earth to Jane, earth to Jane!” Jeremy says into his sister´s ear.
Her brother again… maybe things can get worse.
“Hello Miguel Ángel. l´m Jeremy,” Jeremy smiles and speaks to Miguel Ángel.
Jeremy has been helping his Dad with the luggage by taking everything out of the trunk of the taxi.
“I’m Jane´s brother who is completely…,”
“….insane,” Jane says quickly.
“… pleased to invite you and your family to our house on Saturday for dinner,” says Anne, interrupting both of them. She has also noticed the arrowhead hanging from Miguel Ángel’s neck. “What do you say?”
Arnold has not noticed the arrowhead. He is busy with their luggage and besides, even though he has new glasses, he can’t see a thing if it isn’t right in front of his face.
“Well, I’ll ask my parents,” Miguel Ángel says. “They´re returning from Chile tomorrow. They were teaching classes to Chilean writers, but this weekend we have no plans. I am sure they would love to come, but I think we should be the hosts and you our guests.”
“Great! We’ll be there,“ says Jane.
“Now Jane, be polite,” Anne says. Then she turns to Miguel Ángel and says, “Either way is fine with us. We would love to have you over at our house but we don’t mind coming to your home either. Just let us know.”
“Well, thanks again for bringing Jane home. We are looking forward to meeting your parents on Saturday,“ Anne says. “Jane, please walk Miguel Ángel to the taxi.”
“Don’t you dare follow them,“ Anne whispers into Jeremy’s ear.
Miguel Ángel and Jane stroll to the taxi. Their steps seem to be endless. Miguel is not sure how old Jane is but he is drawn to her. He has just returned from the United States and this girl is actually prettier than the other American girls he has met there. Her Paraguayan roots were probably the reason for that. He likes her already even though she is a bit young and even…immature.
“Well, see you on Saturday or maybe at school. I go to the American school on Brasilia Avenue downtown,” Miguel Ángel says.
“Just a minute. Let me check something,” says Jane. She turns and runs into the house but comes back in a few minutes. “Yes, we are going to that school too. So we will see you tomorrow.” Jane is very pleased. Paraguay was not so bad after all.
Miguel Ángel says goodbye and gets into the taxi. The taxi takes off and Miguel Ángel looks out the window, thinking about Jane. His long legs touch the back of the front seat and he has to bend them quite a bit. He is only about ten blocks away from the neighborhood where he lives. It is called a “country” but is really just a middle class neighborhood with paved roads and a security guard at the gate. It is a place for more educated, refined people..people of letters.
Like many of his classmates in the senior year of High School, Miguel Ángel is 18 years old. He wants to be an electrical engineer, not only because he likes it, but because the Paraguayan economy is growing well at the moment. Paraguay is also the largest exporter of electricity in the Americas, and is the fourth largest soybean exporter and eighth largest exporter of beef in the world. But Miguel Ángel does not like animals or the countryside, so he prefers becoming an electrical engineer.
“I think that we are not that bad compared to the United States. What do you think?” He spoke animatedly with the taxi driver, part in Guarani and part in Spanish. “I just got back from an exchange program and it seems like Paraguay is doing as good as the United States.”
“Well,” says the taxi driver. “Are you interested in the United States or in the girl who is from the States. Which one is it?” He smiles in the rearview mirror at Miguel Ángel who doesn’t say anything.
“Mborayhu,” says the driver, smiling. “You´re in love with the gringa, I’m guessing.”
But Miguel Ángel isn’t listening. He knows what the word means. In Paraguay almost 90% of the population speaks Guarani, and the rest Spanish. It is a wonderful language, although a bit tricky. Perhaps, that was the problem. Love can be as tricky as Guarani but it is starting to grow in Miguel Ángel. He isn’t sure that it is a good thing. His life is already complicated.