The band pictured in front of a hand-woven United States flag made by a local Paraguayan craftsperson.
It was after 1am when our plane took off out of Asuncion. We had a red eye flight to Panama City, Panama through the night and arrived after 6am, today.
We were sad to leave Paraguay. In the scope of the full tour, Panama is our final country, so even though we have a huge week of programming planned, there is a sense that the tour is wrapping up, and a desire to savor every moment, and value every encounter.
Our American Music Abroad partner, Marc, is flying back to the States today, which was a sad goodbye for the band… He’s been a great teammate and advocate for the well-being of the group, and an eager travel companion; always excited to sample local cuisine and see the cities. A kindred spirit. He’ll be missed in Panama, and we look forward to our paths crossing again in the future.
As a farewell get-together dinner in Asuncion, we went to a local steak place by our hotel. The entire table shared a funny, fateful moment when our sizzling beef arrived, and the “Ode to Joy” theme from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony started playing on the radio. It made the first bites especially enjoyable.
Over the last two days we’ve had incredible opportunities to connect with people in Paraguay. We performed a concert at the Theater of the Americas in Asuncion, where we met the United States Ambassador to Paraguay, Ms. Leslie Bassett.
After our performance, a troupe that performs traditional Paraguayan songs and dances put on a show for us. The girls wore colorful dresses, and the boys wore hand-woven belts and hats, and they were accompanied by a brass band that blasted festive songs in the local polka style. It was beautiful, and especially moving because many of the performers in the group had various physical and cognitive differences. The show was a great deal of fun.
The next morning we visited a group called Denide (from their website: “a non-profit organization that defends the rights of people with intellectual disabilities through educational and community programs.”).
It was one of the best concerts of the tour. They started by performing a dance routine to “Accidentally in Love” by Counting Crows. Those who know us well, know that that is one of our all-time favorite bands… That element, the lyrics of the song, and the genuine joy they shared really moved us.
Dance party during our concert at Denide!
We were glad that when our turn to play began that the dance party continued. From the moment we started playing our first song, a number of them ran up on stage and danced alongside us. It was a blast. A little chaotic, raucous, and so fun. It was one of the best concerts of our lives.