August 16th - 24th, 2008 La Encantada, Peru
This last week I had several farewell parties or despedidas. I am going to give a short recap of them all.
Saturday - Chulucanas Basketball Team
Everyone from the team got together to bask about all the good memories over the last two seasons. I made margaritas for everyone since they had been asking me to do that for two years. They presented me with a certificate from the Team Club with their autographs and some words from each of them. It was a good last team outing.
Monday - Dried Fruit Group
For lunch, the dried fruit group put together a great despedida. One time when I was the guest of honor at an event, I ate an entire female chicken. They love how much I can eat, so the group had been talking for the past few months about how they were going to serve me a huge plate. When it was time to eat, everyone else was served a modest plate with a little bit of chicken on it and rice and other traditional sides. Finally, they brought me an entire female turkey and placed it before me. I told them to quit fooling around and bring me my actual plate. They told me to eat as much as I could. I successfully ate half the turkey and could have ate more but felt bad that no one else was getting any turkey, so I pretended to be stuffed.
The president and some other members of the group each gave some words and we spent the rest of the day drinking and recalling jokes for the last two years.
Thursday - Artisan Association
Tonight the majority of the artisans came to my despedida as well as the directors of the NGO I have been working with for the past two years, Cite Ceramica. Just like the others, some people gave little toasts and we enjoyed a good meal and some beer.
Friday - Host Family
My host family invited all the extended family from the regional capital of piura that I had got to know over the past few years. We had a really good meal and when it was time to toast, it was really hard. My host sister and brother talked a little bit, but my dad had to stop midway because he started choking up and my host mom couldn't even say a word because she was balling. I started crying halfway through my speech but finished nevertheless. It was good to cry.
I really will miss my host family because they truly treated me like family and we had a wonderful two years together. I will always remember them and plan on staying in touch.
Saturday - Lunch with Mario's Family
Mario is definitely my best Peruvian friend and we have done alot together over the last two years. Since I stay in Chulucanas after my basketball games, I have got to know his family pretty well. His mom prepared a farewell lunch for me on Saturday. It was fun hanging out with the cousins one last time.
Saturday Night - The Big Blowout
My friend Reydelinda prepared a little meal for my closest friends before the big blowout. Afterwards, everyone danced to the hired DJ and there were a few planned speeches given by the dried fruit group and a member of my youth group. I gave a little speech thanking the town for their hospitality. We danced late. It was good to have the opportunity to say goodbye to everyone.
Sunday - Leaving
I left Sunday morning. Several people saw me off and my host family started crying again but I held strong. Everyone asks me when I am coming back. Since I am now a godfather (in the Catholic sense of the term), of my host sisters child, I will probably be back in like 2 or 3 years for the baptism. I will be excited to return.