The fan doesn’t faze the insistent unknown insect devouring my legs. It’s hot. My back hurts from lugging supplies all over town because I’m too stubborn to take a bus and I need the exercise.
My belongings–the things that I say I need for this life in Colombia, the things the Peace Corps says I need and a few extra pairs of shoes–are all back in the suitcases. I’m watching the shadows from the traffic on my curtains for the last time; listening to the cats outside my window making kittens for the last time.
Three months I’ve been here, months of memorizing Barranquilla’s addresses and training to be teachers. It feels like a long time. I feel older.
Goodbye to the park where we ran in the mornings, to the utter confusion of the walkers, chatting about dinner last night (‘how much costeño cheese this time?’) and culture integration (‘I went to three different birthday parties!’)
Goodbye to Gutierrez, my favorite little old man with a mustache who called me a queen every morning I walked past his plastic chair outside the tienda. He looked up at the darkening sky and said, may god bless your path.
Goodbye to the guy who runs a grocery out of his living room who always said good evening but then piropo-ed me, which in my mind cancelled each other out. (Piropos are the cat calls and comments men make to women. I’ll write much more about that later, don’t worry.)
Goodbye to the black wrought iron gate that pinched me yet again today and I had to steal a napkin from the perro caliente cart on the corner to stop the bleeding.
Goodbye to the beautiful porch with palms and green benches outside the window where the abuela watches the street.
Goodbye to these three little women who opened their house to me and shared their food, jokes, family members, tv shows and opinions with me. They were my first view of Colombian life, and boy, will I miss their arepas! These ladies are a wealth of knowledge, experiences and ideas. I’ll miss them!
Goodbye to Barranquilla proper! These tree-lined carreras and hectic market stalls and sweaty buses and curious neighbors and your contradictions and colors and challenges and hopes are now a happy place for me, and I’ll be back.
Next weekend, in fact!