Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Monday July 5, 2010

I awoke this morning to the feeling of bittersweet anxiety that can only mean a change is in the wind and farewells are on the horizon: my time in Chijchipani with Teodoro has come to an end. Though I have only been here two weeks, by this point in my life I am all too aware of how quickly my spirit sets down roots: I will find a home and people worth missing wherever I lay my head. Despite this assimilation ease, I have fully failed to master the yin to its yang: the uproot. I blame this partially on what I will call optimistic amnesia, in which, at the final hour as I say my good-byes and ready my departure, I can recall exactly nothing except the best and most endearing parts of a place and the people who populate it. After two weeks of unforgettable experiences with one of the most endearding families I have yet to encounter, I expected this departure to be no less tear-stained than any other.

I had no idea what time Jaime would arrive, and so my bags sat packed and ready to go by early morning. After successfully downing a healthy breakfast of pito and tea (aside: it's amazing what you'll eat when you're hungry enough and there's only one option...with several days of practice under my belt, I now fancy myself to be something of a pito pro...quite unstoppable, really...spoonfuls by the dozens. I might actually be starting to like it...), I joined the kids for a few rounds of games and giggles before heading to the kitchen to help Afra with lunch. Though I am eternally grateful for the graciousness and the willingness to share that the family has shown me since their arrival, I must admit that I am looking forward to eating something that has perhaps been cooked without a shoulder in it (“Un plato siiiiin carne para la Catereeeen, la vegetariana” she says, brushing aside the scapula with her ladle). I was chopping carrots and singing Miss Mary Mack for the kids for the eight hundred and forty-fifth time when we heard tires crunching on the rocky drive and the wail of a horn. I looked at the kids and sighed; already...?

I threw my bags in the back of the taxi (the Sportage is still broken) and felt the tears rise. The kids (plus Bilde) stood in a line next to the porch, not quite sure what to do with the lip-quivering, tear-stained gringa. ¡No llores! (don't cry!) said Fabian, the eighteen-year-old who had taken to relentlessly teasing me in the last couple days. I tried to smile but instead cried harder and began my way down the line giving everyone a good-bye hug; by the time I got to Teodoro at the end of the line I could barely get out the sentiments of gratitude that I had practiced in my head all morning. He told me to come back soon, that he would miss his hermanita americana (American little sister). I nodded and gave him another hug.

As the taxi pulled away I heard a knock on the window to my left; I turned to see the tall, leggy Fabian toss a definitive thumbs-up towards me with a big grin on his face as he chased after us. I smiled and waved and cried and watched as the other children followed suit. My last image of the Casa del Cafe was a tangled, joyful cluster of waving arms and running legs, their boisterous yelling and laughing reaching my ears even over the rumble of the road beneath us. We rounded the curve of the driveway as we entered the road and in an instant they were gone. Like the satisfying pops I so relished in hearing as I tore weeds from the soil in my first days here, my own roots reluctantly relinquished their hold on this place and these people that I had come to love so much.

On to the next adventure....  

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