It is 10:45 PM in Cusco. I just watched Trump’s acceptance speech at the RNC. Pretty amazing how the Internet connects us to things so far away.
I woke up by my new natural alarm clock, Baruna, ate my normal breakfast, and waited at Orion a little earlier than usual so Rodrigo, a worker at SIT, could take us to Huacarpay in his car with the new uniforms. We took a bit of a different route than usual (which made me a little nervous), but we ended up passing by our usual route – Saylla, Huasao, Tipon, Oropesa, the Real Garcilaso training ground, and Huacarpay – to get to the school. There, we saw the kids getting ready to march. We didn’t quite give them the clothes yet (that was to come later), but we ran a quick marching training. The kids didn’t want to behave, so Norma called a team meeting with all the kids and told them to behave on our last day. I appreciated that.
I think Norma and Delia knew that we weren’t up to working too hard on our last day, so they let us sit and observe. We did, however, help set up for Achievement Day. We put up flags and banners in the classrooms while Melanie helped the older kids finish their projects. It was a nice thing to do. Worn out, we were called into the kitchen for our last lunch. Delia prepared us arroz a la cubana, which is rice with fried banana, egg, and fries. It was delicious. I loved it. After I took some pictures of the school (coming on Sunday when I can upload them), it was time for Achievement Day. It wasn’t anything special. The kids just hung up their projects on the wall, and pictures were taken. It wasn’t as big of a production as I thought it would be since (sadly) their parents don’t come. Right after Achievement Day, however, Delia and Norma recognized us for our work this semester (Norma’s speech strangely left out Melanie, showing how gender is really recognized here). The kids then gave us homemade cards which were very touching. Roy Abel and Juan drew a picture of us playing soccer, while Doris, the oldest student, left both of us a very thoughtful and well-written letter. We then said our tearful goodbyes, took pictures, and parted ways. It’s sad for me because, although I can certainly return to Huacarpay, when I do, certainly all of these students will have moved on. The reality is that I probably will not see any of these kids again, and that is really too bad. They’ve made a huge difference in my life.
I also thanked Melanie for her hard work. She has been an outstanding partner, having to deal with way more than I have in terms of the way she has been treated. Still, she kept her head down and worked hard for the kids and always did the best she could. I was proud to have had the chance to work with her.
I then returned home to a delicious lunch of chicken patties and fried yuca. I decided I was too tired – physically and emotionally – to run today, so I sat back and relaxed for the afternoon and reflected. Soon I will have to say goodbye to my host family, and that is going to be tough as well. But tomorrow we get to celebrate with a dinner with all the families in the Plaza de Armas. I’m excited for that. I just wish Baruna could come!