The final weeks of our service went by a lot faster than we ever imagined they would. We had planned our close of service pretty thoroughly and had a calendar set up indicating what we would be doing each and every day during our last ten weeks in Costa Rica. True to our experiences during our time with Peace Corps, events were added, removed, and/or changed (several times). In the end we worked as long as we could and then we celebrated our time in La Colonia with bingo, actos civicos, karaoke, good food, hugs, and unavoidable tears.
Our despedidias (goodbyes) began on a Friday, during our final story hour with the materno and kinder kids. When we finished story hour we presented each classroom with a book, Huevos Verdes con Jamon to materno and De la Cabeza a los Pies to kinder. They in turn presented us with books of their own drawings and stories. We somehow managed to make it through the presentation, hugs, kisses and photos without tears. It was close though. The teachers had explained that we would be flying back to the United States and so the students bombarded us with questions about what it was like to fly, if we would be scared and how long it would take. Their curiosities curbed the pain of saying goodbye.
|One of the drawings from our kinder kids (notice Chris' beard!)|
A couple of days later we hosted a Sunday afternoon Adios Gringo Bingo for the community. We had acquired quite a bit during our service and we didn't want to bring it all back to the states with us. So, we sorted through everything - balls, toys, clothes, storage containers, school supplies, kitchen supplies and some electronics and prepared to give it all away. We didn't want to favor any given community member or family and so hosting the bingo seemed like a fun way to say some goodbyes and to thank everyone from La Colonia for their support over the last two years. With the support of our friends Orlando and Alejandra we secured all of the necessary bingo equipment and were able to spend several hours with roughly 150 community members that braved the rain storms to come out and play. Everything that we had prepared as prizes disappeared and found new homes with wonderful people.
|Orlando helping to call numbers during our bingo|
On Tuesday the tears started flowing. The escuela hosted two actos civicos (assemblies) so that all of the students would have a chance to say goodbye. There were many kind words, each class presented us with going away gifts and we received lots of hugs. We teared up and cried as we said our goodbyes, realizing that after two years we really were leaving the people that welcomed us into their community and their hearts.
|Our morning kids|
|Our afternoon kids|
The goodbyes continued that evening as the teachers from the escuela and cole and the school PTA hosted a dinner for us at a local restaurant complete with dancing and karaoke. We had good food and a lot of laughs. Orlando, Maikol, and Alejandra tried teaching us how to dance, we actually sang karaoke, and once again we were presented with little going away gifts.
|Goodbye dinner with teachers and PTA|
The following day we packed up our remaining belongings (we had already taken some stuff to Orlando and Alejandra's), said some final goodbyes and then rode out of town. Literally, on bikes. People asked us when we were leaving and we would respond, "now," and they looked at us like we were crazy, shrugged it off, and wished us well.
We kept saying goodbye over the next several days. We had a final trip to the Peace Corps office during which we had some final meetings, signed off on some paperwork and met up with some friends. We had a last lunch at a favorite restaurant with our friend and nearest fellow volunteer, Rebecca. We met up with a whole slew of volunteers at the Q50 race in Sarapiqui (I'm sure a blog is coming soon-ish from Chris about his latest ultra-marathon). And then, our final and hardest goodbye to Orlando and Alejandra as they dropped us off at the airport at 4:15am (what amazing friends to take us to the airport at 2:30am!).
|Chris cooling off in Rio Sarapiqui after completing his 50 mile race|
We were surprised to see our friends Nick and Monique at the airport. They were our fellow language group volunteers during training. We came in together, we left together (where were you Ari!). What a journey.