Leaving is weird: Part 2

As I sit here in the airport, realizing I’m essentially done with Lima, if not all of Peru, that leaving is weird. I’ve said it before and knowing me, I’m gonna say it again! Yes, I have a week left in Peru. I’m going to visit a wonder of the world, I’m going to stay on a manmade island in the middle of the highest lake in the world, and I’m going to hopefully buy a Peru shirt with one of those cool Ps. Who cares about that though? Y’all care about my last day. I say that because at least two people asked me, “How was your last day?” That’s twice as many readers as I thought I had. I was going to call Friday a bittersweet day. I don’t think that’s true though. It was more just bitter, there wasn’t as much of a sweet taste in my life. Instead it was me more having to distract myself on the ride back home so I wouldn’t break down into sobs. I always said I wanted to work with children, I’m glad at least that I enjoyed the time I did have. Though to me it would be hard to not fall in love with the kids. I imagine I’ve said that all before, that I enjoyed the time, that I enjoyed the kids, that I enjoyed the work I did. People say that they hate goodbyes, for me, it was more I didn’t know how to properly say goodbye. That could partially be because that I literally don’t know how to formulate the exact words because of the language barrier. I like to think it was more, how do you say goodbye to someone you may never see again in your life. I shouldn’t say may never, it’s almost a certainty that I’ll never see them again. Maybe Peruvian kids are nicer, maybe I just haven’t worked with children on the regular and I can only assume thoughts about them. But these kids, these kids, you don’t expect them to bond with them how strongly you do. Or maybe you do. I didn’t. Especially when I bonded with the young children so much in the beginning. Just the few weeks I spent with the older kids, and I felt like they were my own children, my own younger brother and sister, my own younger cousins that you only see at family reunions. It’s hard, it’s hard to even formulate into words how I felt. I’m two days out but I do think it’s a bit early to even have this all sit in. At the very least I’m used to weekends. I’m used to having these couple of days off. What I don’t think I’m entirely prepared for, or entirely able to even think about is what happens next week. I can understand not going for a day or two, but I’m so used to doing it. To waking up, to eating those boiled eggs, and then seeing smiling young faces that treat me like their favorite superstar. Hans!! Hans!! Hans!! Admittedly, I maybe should have also not listened to a podcast (an internet radio show) while writing this because I feel that it keeps distracting my brain from the task at hand. Or maybe it’s hard to formulate the thoughts regardless. People asked me how the last day was, as I mentioned, but I don’t even know how to describe it. That’s why I’m writing words and trying to do what I can but it’s still harder than I thought. I enjoyed the work more than I thought I would, and I loved the kids more than I thought possible. I also answered every question about me having a girlfriend with “No, but I have two cats.” I’m not sure if I’m leaving a legacy of being super cool or a legacy of “Wow, that guy is a total loser” but who cares?! Not me. Goodbyes though. I tried to make it simple. I tried to make it sweet. I tried to make it low key. Except when you’re Hans, it can’t always go like that. Which I am happy for. If I left with just a wave goodbye then I kind of would have felt a little disheartened that my efforts weren’t appreciated (which I can assume is not the case) but I did feel like a celebrity going out. One child asked for my Facebook, I wrote it down on a piece of toilet paper. This led to me writing my name on the hands of thirty children. I don’t even know their intentions with it, or they just didn’t want to be left out. I didn’t care. I felt like there should be paparazzi outside taking photos of me and all my adoring fans. There were hugs, there were smiles, there were kids telling me I should just stay for another year. Kids telling me that “You’re coming here after Costa Rica right?” It was emotional. At least on the inside. I kept my stoic face, I kept strong, and I can’t show weakness. I am the white Hulk. I am going to miss them. I hope they’re going to miss me. I’m going to miss Peru as a whole. I wasn’t entirely sure what I expected when I came here to do this volunteering. All I know is that it’s exceeded all expectations thus far. There’s been good, there’s been bad, ups and downs but that was expected at least. I’ve met great people, I’ve met people that I hope to stay in contact with forever, I’ve met people that have changed my views on things, I’ve met others that have strengthened my thoughts on other things. My only thing I’m hoping for in my next stop is that I meet someone for a bit more long term. I’ll be the first admit that I’m not the quickest to warm up to people and by the time the two or three weeks is over, I’m finally feeling that I’m really connecting with the people around me.  I want to have a chance to connect even more. Strangely enough, the night before I left, yesterday they’d call it, a new volunteer came in. His name was Kyle. Kyle 2. He’s spending 10 weeks in Peru. He just spent 12 weeks in Costa Rica. He’s doing the exact same thing as me apparently just in the reverse order. Why can’t I have something like that? I just want to have someone to journey along with. If that doesn’t happen though, I’m happy with all the new faces that I do get to see. Fresh perspectives are nice, and I went on this trip for my own self so at least I have countless time to work on me. All I know is that I love Peru, I’m excited about my final week here, but I’m even more excited for the next stop on the journey. It’s been great so far, and now I feel I’m even more prepared to make it that much more amazing. I’m thankful for those who have kept along on my journey with these posts and I’ll do my best to keep updating you on my life in the coming weeks and months. Onto the next stop, just with me visiting some ancient ruins first. I’ll work on actually uploading these now 400+ photos eventually too. Maybe even this week. I should at the very show Peru before I leave Peru. Keep with me, constant readers, we’re on this journey together. So it goes.

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