May 30, 2004
Hello friends and family!
Well, it is hard to believe, but we are at the end. Where did 4
1/2 months go? This last month has just flown by as we have been
preparing for the final concert, as well as preparing the band to
be without us. It has been quite the emotional month- excitement
as they are experiementing with conducting and other leadership
roles, but also the reality of having to soon say goodbye has set
in. On May 15th they celebrate Teacher Day here (why doesn't this
exist in the US?!). After our band rehearsal we were surprised with
a huge fiesta planned just for us. The students brought in plate
after plate of traditional food, a folk band came in a serenaded
us with songs all night, beginning with the Mexican birthday song,
Las Manaitas (little beloved monrnings), only changing "birthday"
to "teacher". A few of the older students gave speeches,
thanking us for what we have done. Then, as if that wasn't enough,
they brought in gifts! All in a theme of traditional Nuhuat culture,
so we wouldn't forget them. I was especially moved when they talked
about us always being a part of the San Miguel community, and hoped
that we could return someday. I know I will return, someday, even
though that may be many years from now. To finish the night off,
they put us whities in the middle of the room (with three other
older students as our partners) to perform the traditional dance
they perform at all important fiestas. Needless to say, we were
more than honored.
Our final concert was last night, and it was wonderful. The entire
town was there, filling up the gym- people spilling out of the doorways.
The band played extremely well, and the fiesta afterwards with food
and dancing was equally fun.
And as hard as saying goodbye to our students is, it will be more
so to our family here- Esther and her two kids (Aylin and Luis Miguel),
and their family members. From day one we have been a part of their
home, and we were so very blessed to have such friends. I will miss
coming down the street and hearing "Atel!!!" (Raquel)
from my pequeño novio (Luis Miguel), or watching the clouds
come over the hillside, enveloping the town, being invited into
home after home for coffee or a meal- leaving with bunches of bananas
or oranges or some other little gift, going to the market each sunday
and buying all fresh fruits and veggies- guavas, avocados, limes,
mangos, pineapple-, or hiking through the mountains encountering
new waterfalls and incredible views. I won't miss our neighbor's
stupid dogs, or the occasional drunk man bothering us, the HUGE
insects, and I especially wont miss the LEATHAL Kuana lizard Reid
found (and killed) living in our kitchen. The three of us decided
that we were NOT going to die from a lizard bite!
Well, I have many more stories, but that can wait until I get home.
Speaking of, the three of us are heading to the Yucatan for a little
vacation on June 1st to climb some more pyramids (only Mayan this
time) and soak in some sun on Isla Mujeres, finally returning to
the States on June 16th to Chicago. I will be once again living
at home for awhile until I get back on my feet after not working
for 6 months! Thanks again for all the news from home, and I'll
see you all in June!