I got up early -- around 6:30 -- to find a phone and call home. My mother emailed me while I was out in the Andes and told me that my father had a stroke and was now in the hospital. I didn't get this news until yesterday and needed a little time to process it.
My father and I have never been close, so while this news was disturbing it wasn't as upsetting as I thought it could be. I continue to draw on the energy of Cusco for the strength I need to leave all this behind and return to a world that now seems so distant to me.
It's only been three weeks. I keep telling myself that. It feels like I've been here for years.
There were no Internet/phone places open yet, so I parked myself in the main square and called my mother on my (very expensive) iphone. My father's stable. He'll be placed in a home. No need to worry. Call tomorrow when you're back in DC. OK.
The square is so peaceful this early in the morning. The stray dogs are meandering around, shops are starting to wake up and the church doors are wide open. There's a men's choir singing and their music is flooding the plaza.
I made my way back to the hotel, woke Mike and we had breakfast on the top floor of the hotel in their breakfast room. This hotel is cute, close to the square and has a lot of character. What it doesn't have is a lot of guests right now and that makes the staff kid of forgetful that you're still there. The front door needs to be opened and closed by a button behind the desk. If no one is there, you ain't getting out (or in, for that matter). Kind of annoying.
After breakfast, Mike and I finished packing and headed out for some last minute gifts and a trip to Molino to see if he could find some North Face items on the cheap. I was also meeting a friend there for a last goodbye and then back to the hotel to get our things and make our way to the airport.
Goodbyes here are bittersweet. Some of the friends I've made here live in Cusco, so I hope to see them again when I return. Others are volunteers from other countries and my best chance of seeing them again is on Facebook.
As this is my last day, it's also my last post (at least my day-by-day accounts -- I've got a Peruvian food post coming up). The reality I've been so used to for the past few weeks is over and a new reality begins again on Monday. New semester (I can't wait), new clients (and, of course, my regulars, too!), and a new outlook. I love my life and I love my work, but this trip has affected me in ways I never thought imaginable. I found love, energy, friendship, amazing food, independence and family here and I'm not going to lose it.
I cried a little as the plane took off, but I take solace in knowing that I will return. Soon.