This was my last week with my family and the children in San Alberto. Everyone was wonderful and I cried at least three times while saying goodbye. I know I’m going to come back. I loved it and will miss everything about that wonderful mountainous paradise.
The last week the teacher let us spend a lot of time drawing and playing together. I gave the children the gifts I had brought for them: candy(which I’m sure the teacher was not super thrilled over), books, puzzles, and two laptop computers loaded with educational(and some not so educational) software and games. The kids were intimidated and unbelievably excited. The older kids were the first ones to really start going through the fifty or so games. The immediate favorites were burgertime, the old style arcade game, and the painting software which made animal noises when they used stamps. While the older kids browsed through games, the younger kids and I built each jigsaw puzzle at least five times. They had never seen them and were just like children who had never used puzzles before, they tried to jam any possible pieces together. A few of them caught on to what I was trying to explain about finding matching elements and they began to teach the others. It was nice to see everyone getting along and working together to figure it out. I showed the older kids some of the more educational games. They were pretty impressed by a math game that gives you short arithmetic problems that they then must provide the answer for. If they get the question right a laser shoots the problem off the screen. The teacher started to use the game to test their math, and simultaneously keep them occupied while she instructed another group.
I think one of the most rewarding moments was when Vanessa and Samira found the geography software and got to zoom in and out of different parts of the world. They zoomed in one the states and asked where I was from. When I told them they proceeded to search for at least ten minutes to find Florida. Just the other day I had been trying to explain different continents to them using the well-loved classroom globe, now I could highlight different areas, zoom in on continents and get them to appreciate the vastness of the world. When they finally found Florida Vanessa commented that it was so far away and told me I had to come back to visit. Of course I promised her I would come back. I can’t wait to see how everyone is doing in however many years. I think I’m most excited to see how the children grow and what kind of people they become.
Leaving was incredibly sad, the girls all took turns giving me a hug and the boys all refused. Except for Ariel the quietest and youngest boy of the class who walked up and hugged me with the most serious face. They asked twenty or so times why I had to go and if I was going to return next week. When I explained that I had my own classes I had to take they looked shocked and asked how a teacher would have to take classes. I left them and they all stood by the window watching and waving to me as I walked away. Saying goodbye to my family was even harder. I will miss Hilda’s cooking and laughs, Vicente’s infinite knowledge and Nachi’s patience with my spanish. Of course I cried again, I know I am definitely going back.
The last week will be a complete change of life. Ned, the program director, recommended I stay with an indigenous family. I met with Rafael, a yachak or natural medicine healer Saturday and started to share my interests for my last week with Intagtour. I definitely miss my family and the kids a lot but it should be a fun last chapter to the adventure.