This morning we woke up and took a late morning motorcycle ride around Aaron’s neighborhood.  It was our first ride in a while without the car and trailer (“box”) following behind.  Although necessary in the event of bad weather and for storage of the bikes at hotels, it impedes on some of the freedom of the ride.  It was nice to bomb around the local roads without worrying about the trailer’s ability to squeak through narrow side streets with cars parked on both sides.  The ride was great!  The sky was dark from an on-coming storm, which made for a great contrast against the ripe oranges in the orchards.

Aaron wouldn’t tell me where we were headed??  We ultimately stopped in the parking lot of a bookstore.  Dad and I waited in the parking lot while Aaron went in; he came back with a copy of “Ghost Rider” by Neil Peart.  Ever since Amber recommended this book in an early comment, I’ve been interested in getting a copy.  The book is about Peart’s 55,000 mile motorcycle journey across North and South America following a family tragedy; a concept I relate to.  I recently made an appointment at Dana-Farber with the CCS specialist, Dr Andrew Wagner.  The round trip flight will give me an opportunity to get started on the book.  Thanks for the recommendation Amber!

Ghost Rider

We had dinner this afternoon at Aaron’s in-laws, the Melgarejo’s (Diomedes, Esperanza, Ada, Brian, Stephanie, & Christian).  They make the most authentic Peruvian food; they’re Peruvian.  The whole meal was excellent: salad with beets, green beans & carrots, soup with barley, corn, and beef, and chicken and potatoes covered in huancaina.  My favorite part of the meal, the huancaina (spicy cheese sauce).  It was as good as I remembered. There is a slight language barrier between our families, but Aaron and Ada are great interpreters.  We had an excellent meal and time!!

Dinner with the Melgarejo's

Huancaina - the Spice of Life

Later, Aaron prepared the the sugar cane that we had gotten the day before.  I had expectations of a stalk that tastes like granulated sugar;  not the case.  It really wasn’t that great.  It was saturated with water and had only a slight hint of sweetness.  Couldn’t resist getting a picture of Shannon, a diabetic, chomping down on it.

Sugar Addict

Day 14

Today I also received permission to post the story of another CCS patient, Chris Roberts, under my CCS Friends link.  Chris passed away on September, 28th 2010; his story was written by his girlfriend Ashley.  Ashley, thank you for sharing Chris’s story.  Between all of us, hopefully we will find a common thread.

Chris Roberts


About bhoefen

Going on a road trip.
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13 Responses to Huancaina

  1. Dad says:

    Bret – I need to comment about your amazing (your very apt term) wife Shannon. You know that your Mom and I care for you and support you to the maximum extent possible. But it’s Shannon who is with you virtually every minute of the day. That is of tremendous comfort to us – beyond your imagination. She would not leave your side in the Hospital or ever since. We see her touch all the right buttons to comfort you (once in awhile having to push several buttons!). To all who see her she is so unbelievably strong – which she is. Early on I asked her about this. She reminded me of the term “steel magnolias” – meaning that southern women have a special ability to appear and to be strong – but the magnolia side of the term is not lot on us. We are so thankful for this amazing woman. We love her so much.


  2. Scott says:

    Thanks for the late night 2nd post of the day, it is a welcome break from studying for finals. I was watching a funny movie, and there’s a great quote from the movie Along Came Polly, the first thing Ben Stiller’s character’s dad says at the end of the movie:

    “It’s not about what happened in the past, or what you think might happen in the future. It’s about the ride, for Christ’s sake. There is no point in going through all this crap if you’re not going to enjoy the ride. And you know what…when you least expect it, something great might come along. Something better then you even planned for.”

  3. Emily I. says:

    Bret & Sugar-Cane-Shannon,
    I have collected Ginna’s donations and am ready to send them out to you!! Let me know where you want the check sent – Might be a good idea to send it to Aaron’s? Or to another family member down south somewhere that you plan to be visiting this week? Let me know! 🙂
    Love and support from the Ginna-borhood!

  4. HP says:

    Bret, I’ve been thinking a lot about your post from a couple of days ago – in which you were grappling with some very difficult questions about the future… I have carried in my mind the image of your coach cheering you on as you pulled away from their home in South (?) Carolina a few days ago. We are all cheering you on. The path you tread is lined with all of us!

    One of the things I have often worried about is the characteization of people facing illness as “courageous” and “inspiring.” This is all true. But I think it’s important to know that you are not just courageous and inspiring on days when you feel good. You are courageous and inspiring because you are facing things that many of us will not. And you are brave because you are making very difficult decisions in which there is no clear “right” answer. The best answer is the answer that is right for you – and you will know those answers as the questions (and the time for answering them) unfold. Know that we all love and support you through all of those decisions. And that your cheering squad is with you all the way, inspired by your courage at every step.


  5. Uncle Lee and Aunt Sharon says:

    Dear Bret and Shan,
    HP’s post is so beautifully put and so true. All our love and support are there with you
    always in whatever decisions you make. Believe that you will be guided in the direction that’s best for you even when things don’t seem clear at the time.

    I have to also comment on Jim’s post about Shannon. Forgive this old cliche, but they say “behind every good man is a good woman”…… Bret, Honey , you certainly found the BEST when you found Shannon. She is truly a peach – sweet, loving, caring, intelligent, full of fun, courageous and strong. You two bring out the best in each other and exemplify what true love is. She has added so much joy to our family and blessed us in so many special ways. I believe we are all drawn to our partners in life for a reason……what a great blessing! Thank you, Shan for being you. We love you and Bret so much !!!!!!

  6. Rhiannon Kramer says:

    I just want you to know that I have been quietly following your blog, but I can no longer stay quiet. I just want you to know that you and your family are in my prayers every single day and I know that you are all living each moment to the fullest. I know that your plans are only to travel south but I want you to know that If for some reason your journey brings you to Southern California you would all have a place to stay! I try to live my life in such a way that I embrace and live fully in each moment of everyday and your story is a true reflection on what that is like. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your story and the story of your friends. And know that a fellow friend who grew up over the hill from Peglow rd is praying for you, your family and your amazing journey.

  7. Debbie says:

    Hello Road Warriors!

    Excellent news Bret and Shannon about going to Boston–I do hope with all my heart that it will be that chance to capture an opportunity for your health and prognosis!

    And Neill Peart? Is that the same Neill Peart who is the drummer for the band RUSH? I’ve heard amazing things about this book, please let me know if it is as good as I’ve heard.

    Peruvian food–I will say that I have never had Peruvian food, but MAN it looks and sounds delicious!! You should send some care packages of it to Virginia (hint, hint).

    And one last comment about Jim’s comment about Shannon–She really is my little Steel Magnolia. Its a trait we both learned from a very early age from our mother, grandmothers and aunts. Along with fortitude and stubborness–comes with it the amazing ability to love, cherish and nurture. And there is no other person I know who exemplifies those traits than my beautiful darling sister.

    Her love for Bret knows no bounds and I remember when she was a freshman in college, her calling me up sooo excited and said “Sissy–I’ve met a boy who I really, really like.”

    And of course, that boy was Bret. I never thought (then) that the boy she had met would turn out to be the man that is her husband. Fate, kismet, the good Lord brought them together at an early age for reason–and maybe that reason is now.

    I’m glad her strong willfullness (Ok, she might have gotten that from me!) and her strength is able to be there for all the Hoefens because I know from experience what a wonderful healing thing her hugs, her laughter and her love can be.

    SHANNY?! You are my sunshine!!

    Keep it in the road and STAY WARM guys–and remember, my heart travels with you every single mile you cross.

    Love you all!


  8. Amber says:


    You are certainly welcome! My husband is a huge RUSH fan and drummer so he has read a couple of his books but this was by far his favorite. Enjoy the book and safe travels! God Bless you and the crew!

  9. Uncle Kevin & Aunt Judy says:

    We can’t add another thing to Aunt Sharon & Uncle Lee’s note–that totally says it all and we all feel the same way. Yours is the kind of love that most people look for all their lives–how lucky you two are to have found it!
    Love you so much,
    UK & AJ

  10. Lisa says:

    I hope today was your BEST day, because I know it was mine. So many Cheerleaders for YOU and your team. Many of us are on the sidelines, but so many of them spoke to you and your heart today. It makes me proud to know that you and your family have touched our hearts and human spirit.
    Stay safe and try to stay warm.

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