Monday, May 11, 2009

The last week

I have this nervous/anxious/amazed/sad/excited feeling in the pit of my stomach.  This morning I woke up and I thought "wow, it is actually here."  One week from today I will be permanently leaving after almost three years in South America.  I simply cannot believe it.  It seems like just a month ago I was on the roof of my apartment building in Cochabamba, Bolivia looking out over the city, enjoying a beautiful sunset against the mountains, and journaling about how my life might possibly play out during the next two years. That time has passed and then some.  All I can say is wow and, while the life I live now did not exactly turn out as expected, that I would not exchange this experience for anything else in the world.

As I have seen and heard, the last week for any volunteer is a difficult one.  It is full of goodbyes, last visits, and finding time to get your life in order and bags packed before the scheduled departure date.  It is even more difficult in Chile, where social custom is not a final goodbye, but more of a "see you when you return" kinda thing.  As I discussed with my spiritual director last week, while US custom generally acknowledges that one may not see the other again and that seeing the other person again is an act of fate, thus saying goodbye accordingly, such understanding does not exist in Chile.  As a result, when Chileans ask if you will return to visit them, you must show the desire to do so with the answer "Si Dios Quiere" or "Ojalá" (If God wants/God willing.)    No doubt the last few weeks I have said those phrases often, knowing that unless work brings me back here, I will not be returning in the future.

So, as all volunteer last weeks go, mine will follow the same format as shown below (last week was just as crazy.)  I look forward to all these events and the people I will share them with, while looking forward to the next step in life, knowing I am on the right path and that this path would have never been discovered without my time here.

Monday
Noon: meeting with Father Erwin to speak to the owners of Los Buenos Muchachos, where I will have my final going away party on Friday
2:30pm: meeting with both Directors of the International Student Program (exchange program I created for two high schools in Santiago)
5:00pm: tea with Consuelo
7:00pm: onces and playing cards with Marta and Cecilia

Tuesday
10:00am: Skype meeting with Juilieta to discuss Saint George book (another project I started, haha)
After: confirming final details for Friday's party with restaurant
2:15pm: meeting with Director of International Student Program at Saint George's
5:00pm: Saint George's College (one of the high schools I work at) goodbye party from the English department
9:00pm: dinner at Jacinda's

Wednesday
10:30am: go to the feria (fruit/vegetable market) for the last time :-(
noon: meeting with both directors of exchange programs and the travel agency
After: meeting with Villa Maria Academy's director of the exchange program
After: errands around Santiago
7:00pm:  mass at Parroquia San Roque (local parish where I used to live, with 20 or so Señoras coming to say goodbye.  At request of the priest, I will be conducting the homily (eek!) reflecting on my experiences and connecting it with the reading of the day.)
After: last community night with Brian and John :-( 

Thursday
Morning: packing
2:00pm-5:00ish: lunch and playing cards with good friends Michelle and Jenny
6:00pm: Onces (tea, bread, conversation) at Señora Sara's house with her granddaughter Amanda
After: slumber party with John and Brian (haha, inside joke thing)

Friday
At Saint George the whole day, saying my goodbyes to good friends, having lunch, etc.  I think I want to go and get one more very cheap pedicure after, we will see...
4:00pm: Sarah, Vicho, Tasi, and many others arrive from out of town
8:00pm-4:00am (maybe later...):  PARTY!!  Goodbye party with about 40 people at local restaurant Los Buenos Muchachos, where Chilean food is great and comes with a 2 hour show of traditional Chilean dances

Saturday
Recouperation from the night before, finding time to pack
5:00pm: leave Santiago and go to Telegante to spend the night with the orphanage kids

Sunday 
Have breakfast with the hogar kids, say my very difficult goodbyes
After: spend time with Sarah, Brian, and John while packing

Monday
5:30am: arrive at Santiago airport for 7:30am flight back to the U.S.

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