Hasta luego Arequipa...

Trip Start May 18, 2007
Trip End Jul 28, 2007

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Flag of Peru  ,
Saturday, June 30, 2007

I've said good-bye many times over the years. It's always sad, and always feels so very final.
Today, I leave Arequipa. Already... I've spent exactly four weeks here, living with Doris and Luis (and the two Shi-Tzus, Gizmo and Ramona), and have been working with great people teaching young children in need. What a fantastic experience it has been! I truly feel like I've LIVED every moment of the last four weeks fully. The few little frustrations met along the way are already forgotten, and I'm left with nothing but great memories, truly wonderful new friends, and plans to continue helping "our kids" in various ways.

The kids asked me, on my last day teaching, Thursday, to "not forget them". How could I forget them? After all, I still remember my students from Japan, fifteen years ago, and still think of them now, wondering what they've become. My little Peruvian friends face greater challenges ahead, that's for sure, but I leave here feeling like I've made a tiny bit of difference. More importantly, I know that through continued work and support with GVI, I can continue to make a difference.

My Peruvian colleagues insisted on one last visit to "La Cecilia" on Thursday, so we danced the afternoon away. (I also did try the dish "Cuy" for the first time - yes, that's guinea pig... more on that later...). Ruth and Ediluz were very sincere in telling me they wished I could stay longer. I wish the very best in the school, and really hope to have the pleasure of visiting them again... soon!

To Carla, Chrissie and Daz, Ashley, Jacks, Ian, Megan, Chris, Liz, Janelle, Charlie, Gita, Tracy, Cynthia, Paayal, Seema, Bhavini -- thank you for everything, and all the very best in all your endeavours. Keep smiling - your collective sense of humour will get you through everything that the kids may throw at you (literally and figuratively).

I just finished my last "tour" of the city, walking through the Plaza de Armas for the last time. The sun is of course shining, the sky is deep blue, and the snow on top of Chachani is glistening in the sunlight. I will miss this city.

Leaving "home" this afternoon will be very difficult. Saying good-bye (there's that word again...) to Doris will be very emotional. She is a wonderful person, truly a "pure soul", and we have become very good friends in the last four weeks. We plan on staying in touch via email, and I'm invited to come back and visit any time I want. I'm not done with Peru yet, and I will come back.

Having said that, I'm off to Bolivia this evening. I'll be flying from Arequipa to Lima to La Paz, and will be joining an adventure travel group tomorrow, with KE Adventure. Much trekking and altitude in perspective again - my recent 6000m climb last week has given me all the confidence I need to tackle this new trek in Bolivia, especially since the highest we're going is 4800m or so.

I'm sad to leave here and to have to say good-bye, and at the same time, I'm excited about going to Bolivia. I'm also looking forward to being home in one month - not because I'm tired of travelling, but simply because I look forward to seeing my family and friends again. But it's all good... Life is grand...
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