I’ve informed most of my coworkers and friends that I will be leaving next month. It has not been particularly enjoyable and has been incredibly difficult to explain in a way that doesn’t make Peace Corps look totally callous and doesn’t turn into a disparaging discourse on safety in Guatemala. I say I’m sorry a lot. I say I’m sad a lot. I tell them I would love to come back for feria in May and then wonder to myself if that will even be allowed and if this is just another way in which I will disappoint people in Santa Cruz. I thank them. For opening their homes to me, for supporting me, for the coffee and pan dulce. For the last 15 months. For everything.
I’m doing my best to leave on a good note. I’m wrapping up the youth groups with “final exams” (which everyone will pass) and graduation ceremonies. Today we started carrying out a survey to measure the current state of women and their necessities throughout the municipality which I will then use to create a full report to leave with the OMM. We’re still having a big birthday bash in March (it happens to be two of my neighbor’s birthdays that same week) and we are even trying to get a trip to Esquipulas to visit the Black Jesus planned before I leave. It’s all hectic and I’m still dealing with the frustration of not being able to do certain things with the care or organization I had wanted, but I’m determined to leave this community with as much as I had promised as possible.
So that’s what’s in store for the rest of this month and the first part of March. And then my first (and only) visitor from the states, Therese, shows up and I get to escape for a week. Pretend I’m a tourist. Relax.
And then the aforementioned birthday bash, final goodbyes in site and the big move. Where to? Well that’s still a mystery. There are various people from my program who opted to leave/move immediately and my boss has been caught up in their paperwork and such and since I opted to move at the very end of the time window, I’m sure I’m pretty far down on his list of priorities. But I’m really not concerned. Every option is “not Santa Cruz” so they are all kind of the same to me. Though Carlos did mention Solola and it would be neat to live near this.
I’m trying to keep in mind what someone said at the all volunteer conference. The exact words escape me, but it was along the lines of:
“Yes, you’ve had an amazing experience in your current site and that’s partly due to the people and the situation there. But your experience is also a reflection of who you are and what you can do. You have made that site special, and you can do it again somewhere else.”
The next few weeks and the changes on the way are daunting. I have to start over and this time with my support system of volunteers severely diminished (the COS count for our group is steadily climbing). New work, new community, new host family (yes, back to host family living), new challenges… and all the while with the positive memories and lost opportunities here in Santa Cruz to taunt me.
But there are positive aspects. This time when I enter the community, my Spanish will be better and I will be much more aware of how things work than I was last time. I have tested methods and tools at my disposal rather than untried theory from training.
Plus, and I know this sounds completely awful, there is something exhilarating about being able to walk away from the frustrations and disappointments I’ve suffered here in Santa Cruz and start somewhere anew. And with only a few months left here in country, if it’s awful, at least the finish line is in sight. But I’m hoping that that volunteers words are true and that I’m able to make the new community feel like home and do something good for the people there, despite the time crunch and despite the unfortunate circumstances that are bringing me there.
Everyone says that Peace Corps is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. And it is. But not for any of the reasons you would guess.