This is my second-to-last weekend at Esperanza de Ana, and today I’m really feeling the weight of that reality. I finally feel like I’m hitting my groove here. I’m part of the team. I have a sense of purpose and play a role in making things run smoothly. I’m getting to know the local staff better, and I’m comfortable with all of them. My Spanish has improved immensely, and I want to invest the time and effort required to take it to the next level. I’m at the point where I feel at home, and now I have to find a way to pull myself away without falling apart.

This is the park we went to. It’s green! And there’s grass! Living in the desert is so depressing, and it’s a nice change to see some vibrant plant life!

I know that I’m the one who planned things this way. I know that I have no one to blame but myself, but that doesn’t change anything or make the transition any easier. I have to keep on my game though. I’ll have my week of solo traveling to sort things out in my head, but after that, it’s back to the US and off to India in the blink of an eye.

This park was no joke… They even had horses! Like probably 15 horses, at least.

You might be wondering what brought on these emotions. I’ve found that reality starts to hit you when people start making plans beyond the time that you’ll be around. Yesterday, we met up with a group of girls from church. The church is doing a “season of small groups” from March-May, and the groups are based on location and common interests. It’s a way to make a big community smaller and give people an actual opportunity to connect. It reminds me of college… it’s a big place with a lot of different people, and where do you even start? You finally start feeling more comfortable once you join a club or two and have a setting where you can narrow down the overwhelming group to a more manageable number of people.
Is a park even really a park without some dinosaurs?

Anyway, Debbie found this group of women who are doing a camping group! Debbie, Julie, Vanessa, and I went to the first meeting at a park in the south of Lima, in Villa el Salvador. There are four other girls in the group, and from first impressions, they’re really cool. We went around the circle and talked a bit about ourselves, and guess what? I spoke Spanish! And not just a few words. And mostly in past tense! When it was my turn, I tried to get them to skip me, but they all said I should just do my best. I talked VERY slowly and one sentence at a time, but they were all so nice about it and looked at me like I was saying things that made sense and not just spouting nonsense. I think I did okay!!
So many trees, and so much shade! I actually felt a little chilled for possibly the first time since I’ve been here.

When they found out that I’m only around for a few more weeks, they started planning a meeting for next weekend where we’ll eat all of the Peruvian foods that I haven’t tried yet. They were all so excited, and it made me simultaneously happy and sad – happy to have met such great people, and sad that I’m only going to know them for a short time. They also started planning some weekend camping trips that sound awesome. I’m glad that Julie and Debbie have this new community and some fresh faces in their lives, but of course there’s a part of me that wishes I could stick around and see things through.

I know you can’t really see in the picture, but just trust me when I say that there are monkeys on that island. Yes, real live monkeys. No, we’re not at a zoo. It’s just a park. And by “just a park” I mean “a bizarre collection of animals, dinosaur replicas, green space, and recreational areas”.

I know that I’m going to hit this point in every one of my trips, but knowing that doesn’t make it any easier when it happens. I just need to enjoy the time I have left, take advantage of every opportunity, and not allow myself to start pushing people away to try to protect myself. I did that a bit at the end of my time in Ghana… I could feel it happening and fought to stop it, but it’s hard to oppose your brain’s self-defense mechanisms.
So I’m conflicted between 1) pretending (in my head) that I’m not leaving and getting hit with an emotional shock when I do and 2) accepting that I’m leaving and fighting through the things my brain and emotions will try to do to distance myself.

Welcome to my brain. It’s a mess in here.

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