Monday, January 25, 2016

.: Day 10 :. Un-Volunteer-y goodbyes

"We started with a simple hello, but ended with a complicated goodbye"

Even though I woke up this morning knowing it was my last day to volunteer, I can't say that I was upset or even feeling overly emotional. I was excited again to see the kids. Excited that we would also be getting the chance to visit another site today and meet some of <lets just say> Peru's more experienced citizens. I hate leaving places and people, but I'm somewhat of a professional at holding in emotions, and I guess ignoring the reality of a situation. This was probably the one time in the trip the language barrier worked to my advantage (minus all those times people try to sell me things and just act confused and keep walking and flaunting my foreignness) because leaving everyone with the confusion of when/if I'm coming back seems a lot easier than a definite goodbye. (There's got to be a correlation in here somewhere with my indecisiveness too, no?)

Anyways, it was a volunteer day very much like our previous ones with a slight undertone of anxiousness about the "final goodbye". We got to the school around 8:30 and hung around until the doors to the classrooms were unlocked. We were sitting on the tiny little chairs at the tiny little tables when the  kids started showing up. I was getting a little nervous when Jesus still hadn't walked through the door after the first 10 or so kids had arrived because he's normally one of the first ones. Everyone lies when they say they don't have favorites. His not being there made me more aware that we really had to say goodbye and possibly never see these little ones again. ughhh. When he finally arrived, I relaxed a bit. He came right over and dragged me to the rack holding all the classrooms activities and materials and pointed to the soccer ball on the top shelf (we've kind of mastered the miming between us two). We went out into the courtyard area and kicked around the ball until the teacher made us all go into the classroom. ( I still can't tell if she's really a fan of us volunteers, we are a 100% distraction at all times, and even though I'd like to think we're also 100% a help, we're just not.)

We only had an hour at the school because we had to be at our next site by 10:30. Time flew by so fast. We were in the middle of working on learning english color names by ripping and gluing different colored papers to a flower drawing when Annette's mom thought she'd be able to sneak away. Annette is on of the little kids who always has her mom or brother or sister with her. Today she had her sister and her mom and was doing alright until her mom left. She was on the floor and wailing and definitely making all the other kids a little anxious. Her sister (maybe 9 years old herself) was trying to calm her down but it was useless.There were two other moms still in the room with their kids and I was expecting them to come over and start dealing with Annette, but it's not how it seems to be in Peru. As helpful and patient and loving as everyone is, coddling someone else's child is apparently crossing the line. I was sitting at the table with Annette, her sister, Jesus, one of the other moms and her daughter. When it started to look like all the kids at the table were about to cry on behalf of Annette, I decided my language barrier and American-ness would save me from falling under any social codes I was about to break. I pulled Annette off the floor and put her on my lap and probably scared (or maybe just confused and comforted?) her into silence. She calmed down enough to let the rest of the kids get back to work and even let me puppet her (as in put the glue on her finger, draw her gluey finger on the paper and stick the ripped paper onto it). She got the hang of it though and started to do it herself. Jesus was unimpressed by the whole ordeal and so for the last 15 minutes of the class I had a little one on both my knees (loved it).

Didn't love that it was already time to leave. Everyone came back into the little ones room (they had all gone next door to the English class with Nelson). We had a brief comic/super staged presentation of gifts in an attempt to snag a photo (fail). And then it was a blur of goodbyes and hugs and confusion. Jay made an announcement to the kids in Spanish so they got that this was our real last day, and some more hugs happened. We were out in the courtyard again looking in at our kids through the barred open windows. Of all days for our drivers to be late. We lingered and I continued to be a distraction but was loving Jesus' runs back and forth from his desk to the window to grab my hand. little ladies man. Right before we had to go I yelled to him to smile from his chair and left with the greatest picture of all time. I definitely don't do favorites.

Our drive to our next site was quick since it was only a couple of blocks away from our school. I was a little hesitant to be at a new site, especially after feeling so emotional from having to leave our last one, but Jay was really excited about this place. In a way, you could say this place we were at now, and the director of this place (Tony) were the reasons for this trip. When Jay was in Peru for the first time to do volunteer work, this was his spot and Tony was his guy. This started his passion and ultimately encouraged him to move to Peru, which led him to Lisseth, and united them in their mission to bring help and visitors to the beautiful Peru. So here we were with some of Peru's finest.

We walked into the main room and got introduced by Tony to this room of at least 100 senior
citizens. they were sitting in groups of about 10 or so at long tables. There were center pieces on each table with a group photo of the people at the table ( they apparently have assigned seats) and everyone had a name tag on that gets tucked away into an envelope and  kept at the table when they leave. My kind of orderly. We had been told about a game called Sapo where you try to throw heavy metal coins (anyone remember the slammers from pogs?) into a metal frogs mouth. You stand about 10 get from the table that holds the frog and has slots all along the top for the coins to fall down into like Plinko  (the Price is right definitely got Plinko from Peru). Each slot is worth different points and getting the coin in the frogs mouth is like the jackpot. its a HOOT. There was quite the fan section and some heckling and some pretty terrible and some pretty amazing. Don't underestimate the arm muscles of anyone ever when it comes to Sapo.
We all took turns roaming between Sapo, the main room where puzzles seemed to be the big attraction, and a smaller craft room where some of the ladies were braiding beaded bracelets which they sell to make money for the facility. They were beautiful and I could sit there all day crafting with them. There's never enough time! Our drivers (who had stayed to play) were ready to cart us off again. Before we left, the director brought us all back together in the big room and we sang a couple songs. it was beautiful and we had little song books so we even got to sing along (spanish songs) This sounds almost wrong to say, but the best part of the visit was leaving. These people are just SO loving and EVERYONE wanted a cheek kiss & a hug. I wasn't lying about the 100 people, so that means nearly 100 hugs. I hadn't even had a chance to say hello to most of the people I ended up hugging. It was bizarre but so sweet and satisfying and endearing and grand and wonderful and unique and ....give out hugs, they mean a lot!
You can't even be sad when you have  a goodbye like that, and we got into our cars with smiles and good moods. And very hungry stomachs. But don't worry, we had lunch plans. Luigi, one of the great people that run Kaclla hostel, had become our friend over the last 10 days and seen us eating LMHC meals each day. He's from the Amazon, a true jungle man, and told us he makes a mean lomo saltado. Originally, he proposed a cooking lesson so that we could leave Peru with the ability to make at least on Peruvian dish for ourselves. But what actually happened is that Luigi turned into a wizard in the Kitchen and needed zero apprentices. We just watched from the door and waited for our food. We were all so wiped and hungry, I don't think anyone was too phased to be cooked for and served. Luigi is a Lomo saltado artiste. His plate came out replete with french fry tower and molded rice mountain. The main part of the dish--steak, onions, spicy peruvian yellow pepper, and secret Peruvian sauce--was also top notch and we ate every last bit.  (don't worry, Zach got a picture so Luigi's art is forever saved.
Time for naps.
Oh wait, theres no time.
Andres showed up to join us for our evening activity---a visit to the neighboring town, Barrenco. Lisseth's brief history of Barrenco had me excited to visit. The town was the place for artists and poets and musicians back in the day (and still today too) for it's location along the cliffs being so majestic and inspiring. We walked the hour or so long coastal route to take in the views, and eventually found ourselves in the towns center. Are we still in Peru? There was graffiti (which was more like beautiful murals) and street performers and coffee shops and super friendly, smiling, artisity looking people everywhere (yes I'm sterotyping, and yeah...I'm probably trying to say we found a hipster haven...but minus any of the grunge). We wandered around a while until we decided it had bee long enough since lunch to have dinner.  Normally we aim for true Peruvian experiences, but when you walk by a brewery and you're in a hipster town, it just seems like the right thing to do. Don't worry, we got flights of Peruivian beers (ya know, american IPA and Oktoberfest and Heffenweizen) and had truly Peruvian brick oven pizzas...
But really, Barrenco Beer Company is one of few (if not the only) brewery in Peru and did serve us some true Peruvian beers too. We left content and maybe a little buzzed and decided walking back would be more fun then cabbing. We strolled past some folks propositioning us for some weed, many parks with benches covered in PDA (thats public displays of affection) and found ourselves on a cliff ledge taking in the waves and the cloudy sky and just having a moment. together. because we kind of like eachcother. 

Another successful day in Peru. See you tomorrow Thursday.

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