My last day in El Remate was bittersweet. In my mind I was already running through all the events that would finalize my trip and the preparation I needed to do in order to leave at 6am the next morning. Over the past 2 weeks I had mapped out all the little gift shops with local artistry in town with what I wanted to buy off their shelves to bring home for family. I was also trying to be responsible in terms of how many Quetsales I had left to get me home. I was also hoping to walk down the dock one last time for my last dip in the lake.
I went to the internet cafe my last time and met Allison later for lunch with Lena and her family. The day before we had planted seeds in some of the gardens of the local women from Group 2, the newest group of women that had collected to support each other in regards to self sustainability and potential government assistance. She had prepared all the vegetables we picked from the various gardens served with rice and warm homemade tortillas of course. I was trying not to overdo it and after Lena’s husband cracked a joke that my Spanish would improve if I ate more tortillas, well I had to join in. She made fresh lemonade and we brought some cake from Lou, the local baker from Texas.
After lunch I went and picked up the cake that I ordered from Dona Patty who also has a panaderia. She made this incredible chocolate cake with homemade frosting and pink flower decorations as part of a farewell celebration with the kids I spent some time with. Before we ate we first played some games where I got to enjoy the laughter and the playfulness of these kids who grow up so fast. They loved the exercise we did so much that they ended up doing it on their own a few times and it was just as enjoyable to watch as it was to hold hands with them. It requires creativity, thinking outside of the box and most importantly, the willingness to have fun.
After the kids group, we then met with the women to have a meeting about how to conduct meetings. Being that most of them are new to being part of a group or organization, also due to the local tradition of being casually late to arrive, Allison coached the group on some tips on how to make the best use of their time and so everyone participated in regards to ideas, input and voting. I then said goodbye to the women and was told an expression that I was told all throughout the day, “we’ll be waiting for you.” Something I found to be beautiful and an easy to accept invitation to come back.
That evening we had dinner at Erwin’s hostel where we took some pictures to help him put together a website for him. http://sakluk.com. We enjoyed the beautiful view from his outside dining area and got our evening started. We went from there to Estella’s for music, singing and celebration. They also sang with humor, the “El Remate Blues”. I heard a song that I’ve fallen in love with that they sung a few times during my trip “La llorona” along with hearing a few cd’s I knew I would buy as soon as I came back home, by Buddha Bar and Porcupine Tree. By the end of the day, tired, we went back to our bungalows and I finished packing.
The next day was your typical travel day. I woke up at 5am, was taken to the airport by Erwin and Allison. After an hour long flight to Guatemala City, I had a 4 hour layover to relax, eat and prepare mentally to go home. I ate at a new restaurant at the airport where the Manager came over to talk to me. It turns out he was from Chicago where he and his brother owned another restaurant. I was being entertained by some old 80’s videos on a TV in the restaurant, getting nostalgic to Styx, Journey, & Frank Sinatra.
After my meal I slept for a half hour and then got on the plane, an hour long flight to San Salvador. When I was on the plane from San Salvador to LA, I started to get excited about seeing my sister who was going to pick me up and Georgie to welcome me home. I stared out my window with tired eyes, noticing the beautiful differences in the terrain of Central America compared to the US. The exhaustion confused for a moment as there was a reflection in the window that almost looked like the Fireflies I got to enjoy the last few nights I was there.
There was a group of kids with a church in the back of the plane who started talking about how much they hated the 405 freeway and how they wanted to be back in Peru. I then knew I was close to home. I could see downtown LA from my window by now, and as I felt the plane lower towards the ground and the wings adjust, we started our descent.
Even this last leg of my trip I was still noticing the beauty of life as the wings of the plane cut through the clouds, the cars began to look bigger and started to move faster. I then noticed the wonder of the California coast. When we landed, there was a moment of celebration as the church group expressed their appreciation to be home with a safe landing by a round of applaud. As I was hearing their cheers in the background, I heard the flight attendant welcome us home with what would be my last Spanish translation. I then turned on my phone and reality sank in, I had 198 emails.
The next two weeks were interesting, adjusting back to the speed of life in LA, appreciating the comforts of home, the companionship of my dog and the convenience of variety. Although we are truly spoiled here in the US, I am so going to miss the lake that was not only visually soothing but was a physical comfort to me everyday. If I could have just figured out a way to bring that home in my suitcase…