Monday, March 9, 2009
Waiting to fly home
So, as I wait in an airport hotel to get onto a flight home (last night’s flight out of Lima was canceled), I reflect on this incredible adventure with both gratitude and sadness. The goodbyes to my friends in La Cruz and my Peace Corps friends have been very tearful. Yesterday I sat in a park in Lima calling my family and friends in La Cruz. When I said goodbye to Henry, the youth group leader, he put his sisters, Gasdaly age 15 and Danuska age 8 on the phone. They were both in my English classes and little Danuska said her goodbyes in English. Henry and I had gotten to the point of teasing each other and joking in both languages. We had plans for work together with his teen group and many long conversations.
Then I said my goodbye to Gladys, the midwife in La Cruz who had been concerned about my weight loss and illnesses. We too had plans to develop a prenatal education program, childbirth classes and more. I have so much respect for the staff at the health center who provide the best care possible in difficult circumstances. The birth room at the health center has the barest equipment and no water. Last year, they lost 2 women to eclampsia, one because her family wouldn’t take her to the hospital in Tumbes.
I said goodbye to my host family. We’ll miss each other a lot as the connection there was strong. Robyn and Sarah will help my host mom get an e-mail address so we can keep in touch. My host mom and Henry are planning on going to the mayor to write a letter to the Peace Corps requesting another volunteer. Sylveria said to me, “We’d never known anyone from the United States and now we have a friend there!”
Sarah Walker once said that we have two lives here, one with our host family and community, the other with our Peace Corps friends with both being important. She’s quite right as those connections with the other volunteers who understand what you are going through and can laugh with you are vital. I never dreamed 6 months ago when I walked into a hotel in Washington DC that I’d have friendships with people 40 years younger than me. I’ll miss Sarah and Robyn a lot along with lots of other fine people in the wacky group that made up Peru 12. There will be care packages in the mail…
I said goodbye to the dream of completing 2 years in the Peace Corps. I must say, I’m ok with the decision to return to the states even though I’m disappointed. I still think the Peace Corps goals are important and attainable. While I didn’t carry out my work plan, I know the goals of increasing understanding and friendship have been met. I hope to talk about Peru, its people and challenges when I return to Wisconsin.
I also hope to sort out my thoughts and feelings about being an older volunteer in the Peace Corps which has a stated goal of 10% volunteers over 55. Pretty tough even for this woman who left the US in good health with a lot of camping experience so the latrines and bucket baths were not ever a problem. On the other hand, when I was tempted to say that I couldn’t do this because of my age, Michael McGuire reminded me that a number of young people have gone home early for similar reasons, some people’s digestive systems never adjust to the bugs. Speaking of which, I do hope I don’t bring any home with me! When I was repacking my things, a half dead cockroach crawled out of my suitcase. I couldn’t stop laughing!
Posted by Sara at 9:59 AM