Having to change sites and leaving Bayunca was hands down the most difficult part of my service, but despite how hard it was to leave, I am still grateful to have had the experience. If you missed my site change way back when, you can read about it here.
This week is Semana Uribe which means a week with no school. I decided to make the trip out to Bayunca to see my family one last time before I leave. I packed up a big suitcase with all of the clothes and things I am not bringing home with me and took it to leave with my family. Whatever they can’t use, they will bring to the church and give away.
When I arrived it happened to be absolutely POURING rain and unfortunately there is a fair amount of dirt/mud between where I get off the bus and the house! Luckily, I had help because of course everyone was standing in the window waiting for me to get there and all came running out to help! We sat and talked for awhile and then headed out and walked around the pueblo yelling ‘adios‘ to everyone as we passed and catching up with people. Then we had dinner (beef, plantains, rice, and juice…my favorite!). The next day I spent the whole day hanging around the house as people who had heard I was in town stopped by to visit. My tia Heidy made some delicious arroz con leche for dinner and then we had a massive sleepover on the floor in the bedroom. On the last day we had huevos pericos and bollo (my favorite breakfast) and then everyone went through the suitcase of clothes I bought and did a fashion show to decide who would keep what. They all gave me little recuerdos like jewelry, make up, and candies. One of the projects I was working on while I lived in Bayunca was a project with children who have various special needs. My tia Heidy has continued the project and taken it further than I ever though possible. She has turned it into a foundation and while I was in Bayunca we went over what has been done and made some plans for the next steps. She gave me a polo with the foundation’s logo and asked me to be an honorary founder so that I will be contacted and included in the future of the foundation. It made me so happy to see that while I had very little time to get things going in Bayunca, some things were able to continue and grown in my absence.
It was really great to spend time with everyone and the relationship I have with them is so special to me. Although I only lived there for five months and have been away three times that long, it still felt like going home. It was a whirlwind few days filled with so many family members I can’t even remember who I saw, lots of celebrating, holding all of the babies that have been born since I left, so much food I thought I might die, plenty of sitting around in plastic chairs, and many very heartfelt goodbyes.
One of the reasons I was hesitant to go visit was because I am especially close with my 95 year old abuelo, Alfredo, and I was worried it would be too difficult for me to say goodbye. On the last morning when it came time for me to leave my abuelo grasped my hands and told me, “Please do not cry. This might be the last time we see each other here on Earth, but we will be reunited one day in Heaven where you will finally get to meet my beautiful wife.” He went on to tell me, “I hope that God blesses you in all that you do, and know that I will be with you when you get married, have children, and all the other happy moments in your life.” He then handed me a rosary which I have never seen him without, that belonged to his wife, Bienvenida. I told him I couldn’t possibly accept the rosary because I know how much it means to him. He told me it is his most prized possession, which is why he wants me to have it, and hopes that it will remind me of him and my time in Bayunca. Upon which I promptly burst into tears. And when I say burst into tears, I don’t mean a few tears slid down my cheek, I mean I BURST into tears. I said goodbye to each family member and thanked them again for all that they have done for me. There was a huge crowd of people gathered in front of the house saying goodbye. It was an overwhelming blur of hugs, kisses, prayers, tears, and smiles. They filled my backpack up with bananas and then walked me out to the bus. I waved out the window and watched them shrinking into the distance as a bus full of concerned Colombians stared at the sobbing gringa.
This family opened their arms to me when I was a complete stranger and treated me as one of their own. I can share all of my pictures and stories, but I will never be able to convey just how much these people mean to me. They don’t just feel like family, they are family. I left a part of my heart in Bayunca and I know that I will be back someday. Now that it is over, I am so happy I made the decision to go because my heart is absolutely bursting with love.
Until next time…….paz y amor.