|La Lucha in the early morning|
|Turco and Adelita|
Later that afternoon I got a call from Helbert, and in a very serious voice asked me to come over to the Rancho. I thought that there may have been an incident after I'd left the night before, or that I'd forgotten to pay part of my tab, so I hustled over there to find all my ALA students waiting for me with a big banner with "We'll miss you!" written on it, a plate of hamburgers and a cake. It was a really, really thoughtful gesture on their part, and the food was delicious and it was really fun to spend one last afternoon with all of them.
From there I went directly to my last A.D.I. meeting. I donated my old laptop to the A.D.I., which will be kept at Carlos Avila's house, and then hung around the Salon Comunal for a Comite Tutelar meeting. As people began to trickle in for the meeting, I noticed they weren't carrying their usual notepads and pens. First there were plates of food, then Dago and Freyvin (an incredibly Tico name) arrived with an accordion and a guitar, then Helbert with a giant grill and a bag of meat, and lastly Idiani with a cake. Soon the music started, and I was serenaded with special despedida songs, usually meant for a man or women soon to be married, but sung for me as a different kind of send-off. Doña Daisy, the current A.D.I. president, started the speeches, and gave me a plaque (see below) and then other people stood up and said some really nice things about me. Even my host niece, Jennifer, who I thought didn't even like me, was complimentary. It was a really amazing party, and I'm incredibly grateful to everyone who helped put it on, and for being such wonderful, generous friends.
|Doña Daisy and me|
|My plaque from the A.D.I. and Comite Tutelar|
|Carlos Avila and Helbert Morales|
The following day I had to head down to Ciudad Neily for a Peace Corps meeting. When I came back in the late afternoon I started going house by house saying my final thank yous and goodbyes. In every house I ate food, or was offered a beer, so by the time I finished I was both incredibly full and slightly drunk. I went over to Wilfrido and Yadira's for a pre-dinner dinner, which included more booze, and then home for my last meal en casa. Finally, I headed over to the Rancho where Helbert, Juan and Norberto were waiting for me. We drank a little more and talked for a couple hours about how fast the 2 years had passed, recounted some of the funnier anecdotes, and called it a night. The drinks, of course, were on the house. The following morning Juan dropped me off in San Vito on the way to work at ICE. I ate my last gallo pinto at Soda Emaus, and got in a Peace Corps vehicle headed for San Jose.
|Parting shot: Helbert and Norberto Morales @ El Rancho|