So I´m in Quito for the night and will be heading to the airport tomorrow at 4 in the morning. The last couple of weeks have been rough, just emotional I guess. I haven´t written in forever and I don´t want to sit here writing, so this will be pretty quick. My last weekend here was good and bad. I don´t even remember what I did Friday, but I don´t think it was anything too eventful. Saturday there was a big party for Margot´s dad and it doubled as my going away party. It was fun but I hadn´t been feeling well for a couple of days, I guess I ate something or accidentally drank some of the water, so I wasn´t really up for dancing and being festive. But it was a good time to see everyone. Sunday day I finished painting and packing, and went to Otavalo to print pictures to leave with some families and friends. Well, worst part of the trip--the bus was super crowded and I had my memory card in this little pouch on my belt, and somehow it came off and someone took it because I came back and couldn´t find it. The worst part of that was that there was nothing of value in there, just a ton of really great pictures. I would have easily paid 20 bucks in exchange. Well, I was leaving the next day so there was very little I could do. I stopped to pick up some new volunteers because I had told Margot I´d go meet them since she was busy at home, and we took a cab home.
Paola gave me an extra memory card that she had and, while I was outside playing futbol with some kids, she got some of the girls to go outside with both our cameras and take pictures of everything and everyone to make up for the ones I´d lost. In the meantime, she cooked up a Spanish feast and we had my goodbye dinner. Well, during the day Paola had mentioned why not leave your big bag here and come back after your jungle trip, and we´ll spend Saturday here and leave early Sunday for Atacames together? So since I was so sad to leave it seemed like a good idea.
Well,my jungle trip was fun but not really anything amazing. It was a lodge in the jungle with daily hikes, but nothing too crazy or adventurous, and no super cool animals. One day we went hiking through a swamp, which was fun but super gross because you could sink way in and I got swamp water in my boots. Sooo gross.
Well, Saturday I came back and I was sooo happy I did. It was really hard to say goodbye again but everyone was so happy to see me and was so warm towards me that it was worth it. So we had a party for the kids and they did little dances for us and we had cake and soda and chips for them. Then we played a lot of games and just ran around until it was getting dark and they all said goodbye and went home. Pao and I went to pack and hang out, and our older friends were going to come over later but since there was a futbol game in Quiroga, they ended up taking a while because here, futbol is like Church and you don´t miss it for anything. So we packed and danced with some of the kids and just hung out in the house, and had a lot of fun. Our friends showed up later in the night and we got to spend time with them, too. Out taxi came at 3am and took us to Ibarra, where we got on a bus to San Lorenzo, and from there headed to Atacames.
It was great to be near the beach, but the town itself was kinda shady. It was deserted because it´s not tourist season, and there were workers all over because they were repaving the main street, and the only decent hotels were ridiculously expensive. Well, Paola said why are we going to hang out here where we don´t really feel safe when we could spend our last few days in Ecuador with our family and friends? So we called Margot and told her we didn´t like it and she said to come home and spend our last few days there. So we had an awesome day, we had seafood for lunch and tried this thing called encocado, which is just a way of cooking seafood with coconut milk. Sooo delicious. We swam in the ocean and then had a lobster dinner, and then hung out in a cafe where they had swings instead of seats. Everything in Atacames was made fresh, from the french fries that were sliced to order to the fruit salads at the cafe. We made friends with everyone there because there weren´t many people in the place, and just had a super fun night. They invited us to a bonfire but it wasn´t until midnight, and we had barely slept on the bus and I had been on a bus back from Coca the night before that, so we were exhausted.
The next morning we woke up early and got on the bus back to Azama. The trip was even longer this time, and the first bus we took was ridiculous. It had NO legroom, it was leaking everywhere (and it was raining) and it was crowded. We finally made it home and I felt stupid because it was my second time leaving and coming back, but everyone was sooo happy to see us it was OK. The older boys were super cute, the teenagers who usually act too cool for everything, every time they´d see me they would all shout ¨Abrazo!¨which means hug, and just crowd all over me and hug me.
It was good to be home and play with the kids and just be around everyone. Yesterday we slept in and then had lunch with the fam. At night we decided to have a bonfire, which was funny because we went and gathered firewood with the kids and got matches and stuff, and then all the guys our age came over and tried to build a fire but couldn´t get it going. So they got a bottle of gasoline and that worked. It was a nice way to end the night, just hanging out and relaxing by the fire.
Today I was going to leave around noon, but Margot went to Quito and asked me to wait until she got home. So I left around five, because there was a lot going on and she had me go to the project one last time to say good bye. So of course I started crying hugging all the kids, and then we waited for the taxi in my room and she gave me a necklace she made me, and we were all trying so hard not to cry but as soon as I got in the cab I couldn´t hold it back anymore. So then I got on a bus to Quito and now here I am. It´s weird to be back here, just like my first night in Ecuador. A little lonely, eating dinner on a street where everyone is in big groups or with friends out to party. But it´s not like I´m going to wander onto a dark street.
So I am really, really sad to be leaving Ecuador. It is a second home to me and I have a family here now. But now that I´m kind of away from them, I am also missing my real home and all of my family and friends. It´s weird, because I´m so torn between the two places, when I never expected to get so attached to a small town in Otavalo. Hopefully seeing all of your adorable faces will make that better. See you sooooooon!!!!