Saturday, November 15, 2008

Goodbye lunches

Yes, my time (this year) in Cajamarca is down to it's last days. As of yesterday I had two weeks in Cajamarca left on my calendar. I can hardly believe that a year has passed since I arrived in this beautiful and strange city in the Andes. Kinda like my Peace Corps site back in the day, I feel like Cajamarca has made a mark on me and even the annoying things have become so familiar that I think I will miss this little city come December. But, don't worry, those of you who are reading this in MN or WI, I am so excited to get on the plane on Dec. 6 and spend the month with all of you. I just realize I have come to this comfortable, weird place where I feel like home is not only St.Paul, MN. Home is (I am not trying to be cheesy) where the heart is. And at this point I feel like my heart is all over the place.

I have had a couple goodbye lunches with my women and it has been very humbling. Let me try to paint a picture: I arrive in an adobe kitchen with smoke escaping from the small windows. Women are gathered around clay pots cooking on the floor. I sit at the table alone catching up on the updates of animals, weaving projects and sick kids. I receive a heaping plate of rice and chicken while the women hurry to serve all the little brown faces that come running into the kitchen. We must have been 20 people in that smoky kitchen. If I don't finish my food they will place the plate of left-over food over my poor little head (a well-known custom in the countryside). I finish. There is no room for a sweet, warm cup of arroz con leche, but I make room anyway. We continue to chat, there is some yelling, kids asking for more, a little piggy that runs into the kitchen. It is a happy chaos, feeling like I have been invited to participate in an ordinary family event, that to me feels so very un-ordinary. It felt like the most special moment I could have experienced right then and there in an old, dirt house with a group of women that are united by family ties, but also the desire to better themselves. This group that lives in the most humble conditions presented me with a small gift before our lunch came to an end. Like I said, my heart is all over the place - excited for my reunion with family and friends in the midwest and also touched by the grace and gratefulness of my women's groups here in Cajamarca.

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