Basically my speech is a version of the same. I may have been invited to a gym (for exercise) but I actually got invited into a family. That I was taking each one of them along in my heart. That it hurt to leave but would hurt a little less once I was with my (blood) family. I thanked them for their love, their acceptance, and for all the good times we shared.
That same afternoon the gym men threw a lunch for Ernie. Again, a fairly large group came, and, being less emotional than women, they sat around, ate, and chatted. However, Ernie's table turned into a deep discussion on religion, faith, etc. One made the comment that it took till Ernie's departure for him to have this kind of discussion with Ernie.
Saturday we had the whole gym farewell, and they threw us a spectacular party. A taquiza for our meal (tacos), then they brought in a full mariachi band for two hours. The last song they played was called "Las Golondrinas" (The swallows). It is a teary farewell song, during which everyone could file by and say good bye. Tears were a plenty.
These are the people we have shared our lives with on a daily basis. Sure, we went for exercise, but we were also a family. We celebrated birthdays together, anniversaries, had field trips, etc, etc. We shared our lives with each other.
I have made the comment often, in recent weeks, that if you have never lived within a latin community you can not understand how they take you in, embrace you, love on you, make you one of them. It is an overwhelming feeling.
Taking that into account, leaving this community is heart wrenching and painful. While it is not the first time we have done this, it hurts the same each time.
It is double hard because our own culture is less like them. We are more reserved, less embracing, and each person has their own 'personal space' factor (you can have one in Latin America but they don't respect it).
When they choose you, you are chosen. We not only know them, but their children as well. They shared their families with us. Parents, children, some aunts and uncles, grandparents. It is a wonderful culture to live in.
|The kids of our friends|
Now, while the ladies are good friends, the men never really got together. Ernie became friends with most of them and therefore we made this a family event. He also became friends with their adult children.
So we had a lovely Sunday afternoon together with a fabulous 'carne asada" (bbq). That means, barbecued meat, chorizo (sausage), onions, served with quesadillas, beans, guacamole, nopales (cactus), etc.
While the meal was fabulous it's the people that make it special. We also felt that Coto Los Narañjos was home. We had a community where we felt safe, felt a sense of community and family. This too will be missed.
So we are now on our last week. Our final good byes are getting said, our boxes are packed, and our looking forward has begun.
There is a saying here "El que mucho se despide pocas ganas tiene de irse" which means, 'he who says good bye often has little desire to leave'. And that has been the case. So we are throwing one last farewell to give people one last chance to say Adios.
We will host an open house on Sunday, for the day, serving snacks. It will be a long, emotional day, filled with tears and laughter.
God is good. He has been faithful. We leave with holes in our hearts that will heal with time as we reflect on the good times. And the world is smaller... so we'll stay in touch!!