So this is my last blog from this continent!!! It’s all kind of strange, but it’s been a good last week. What has been cool is that I’ve been able to help the new striders settle in, which has also helped me let go as I, in a sense, ‘hand-over’ my responsibilities. The first day, understandably, they had what I call scared-rabbit-faces… but by the end of the week were looking more settled but pretty exhausted!!! I’m sure they’re going to have a great year in Remar, and it was really cool for me to get to meet them and show them the ropes alittle!Photo time
Last week I told you that I’d been a photographer taking everyone’s picture with whom they wanted. Well, tuesday I had great fun handing them out to everyone; it was so lovely to see everyone’s faces light up as they received the photo they’d chosen!! I also wrote a goodbye message on the back of each one, which took quite some time to do! For me, this was the perfect leaving present, something I could give to everyone, and something that will last (hopefully!) and something they don’t have the chance to do themselves!Rain, rain, rain
So, ‘winter’ has started here again….which basically means that it will be lovely sunny and hot in the morning but by the afternoon there’ll be a SERIOUS thunderstorm! So one knows not to go out without an umbrella or a jacket!Preparing for re-entry
Tuesday breakfast time, Dave (strider in ambato) and I supposedly had a ‘goodbye’ meeting with the Stride co-ordinator for Ecuador, but there was a road block so he couldn’t get down from Santo Domingo…but anyway Dave and I had a good wee chat, and he’s lent me a book to help prepare me for ‘Re-entry’ which is proving very useful, though I’m finding precious little time to go through it ---but I have like a 5hour wait in the US, so it’ll give me something to do!!!Goodbyes…
So, friday was the day of truth….the, this-is-it,-I’m-actually-leaving-day. Not entirely sure what I did friday morning, bit of playing with the kids, bit of helping in the kitchen and generally just chatting with people. It came to lunch time, and we were all waiting to eat, the girls were moaning about empty stomach’s (especially those who hadn’t been allowed out at breaktime, and hadn’t received their bread, just a wee tiny slice of my home-made, Ecuadorian style Caramel Shortbread which I’d made for everyone), finally at a quarter to 2 Maria Augusta arrived, the food was ready and we entered…. They’d decorated the comedor with streamers and balloons (saying ‘welcome to my party’). They started by singing me a song which got the old waterworks going ‘we love you in the love of the Lord’, then Blanca (one of the slightly older girls) said a few words of thanks, which got me going even more!!! Blubber, blubber, blubber. So then I was invited to sit down at the table, and tried to regain my composure as the kids sang with Maria Augusta all the songs they could remember from bible club whilst the food was passed round. Then before we ate, several of the girls said prayers for the food and for me, which was really touching, then we tucked in!! and VERY tasty it was too, a sort of stuffed meat with a tomato sauce that the amazing Nellie had prepared! After helping tidy up, a few of the girls put on some music and danced in my honour, cute! Then came THE moment, I went upstairs and got my bag, and came down again, Tati called silence and I had to give a few words, I couldn’t even get the first word out without a blubber!!! I managed to say something though not very coherently!!! SO then started the goodbyes of all who were in the house, each kid coming up, giving me a kiss and a hug, me trying not to blubber!!! So I went out through the front door being clung onto by the kids, more goodbyes, more kisses, walking down the steps across the patio to the gate!!! At the gate more goodbyes and kisses, and ‘come back soon’s, a big hug and tears from Tati, and a ‘we hope you’ll come back through this door soon’, and out I stepped into the world and started to walk down the street… I walked slowly down, and Valen popped out her head ‘bye tia Joanna’, I turned and waved and carried on, then there was a whole chorus of ‘bye tia Joanna’, turned and all the kids and tati were standing out on the street shouting and waving, as I got to the corner, I turned and waved one last time, though the view was slightly obscured by people, and left. That last view is engraved on my mind… as I walked away, I tried to regain my composure and just felt sooo thankful for my year with them all in Remar!!!Karaoke!! (what?!!)
Friday night was my ‘despedida’ from the youth in my church, so after our meeting, we set off to find something to eat…there were about 15 of us I think munching away at pizza and finally at 11.30 we finished and thought about heading to find a karaoke place! Numbers dwindled slightly as it was getting late, but we were still 11, a very good number, and after like 40mins of driving around first trying to find a place that wasn’t chocker, then trying to find a parking space we got there!!! Oo and what fun it was, where we ended up, there were a few other groups, some of whom had very drunk people who VERY enthusiastically and out-of-tunely sung their songs much to my amusement and horror! I sang 3 songs, one in Spanish and 2 in English and everyone sung along, but what was good about this place was that you didn’t have to stand up in front of everyone, but by the end we and an old fella, were the only people left!! We had great fun, lots of laughs, and finally got home just before 3am!!! Oo I felt tired in the morning!!!Last minutes…
In the last few days been fitting in a few last minute sight-seeings…. First we went up the Panecillo to see the Virgen of Quito, a big statue of the virgin Mary that is on a hill just after the old town, you get an awesome view of the city --- following the virgins gaze you see the north, then far behind her stretches out the south… which Paquita said just wasn’t there when she was a girl! Yesterday I took Paquita and Armando to the Botanical Garden, a relatively new ‘attraction’ in Quito, still not finished but it was just lovely to wander round, very well laid out and it was just so nice to hear wee birds chirping all around!! Just now I’m popping off to Fundacion Guayasamin, the museum/gallery of a famous Ecuadorian painter.. oo and the other last minute thing, a haircut!! It just had to been done, I couldn’t face coming home and having to pay a minimum of 25quid for a haircut, when I can get one for under 6 here!!!!
So, it is to all intents and purposes over, said my goodbyes to all in church yesterday (thankfully non-teary!!), and the pastor even gave me a public goodbye/prayer in the service. I’m pretty much all packed and ready to go, it’s well weird to be leaving, and I can’t imagine what life will be like back in England, but here goes!!!
P.s. thanx for reading this blog over the year, hope you’ve found it interesting and amusing… and don’t forget about it, coz I’m sure I’ll put something up from time to time!