My time here is nearly finished, and I have had a good last week in Cuenca. Thursday was my birthday and I went out with some friends to one of our favorite restaurants for Italian food. It's kind of expensive, so we only go there on special occasions. Unfortunately, I had to say goodbye to three good friends that same night also, as it was the last time I'd be seeing them.
On Friday night I went out again, meeting up with some friends and then going to a club later on. With the purchase of a Long Island Iced Tea and Cuba Libre, I was drunk until well into yesterday morning. I was tired and not looking forward to drinking again last night, but knew that I wouldn't have much say in it because it was my going away party.
I met up with some friends in the afternoon and we bought supplies to have an all day barbecue in my friend Andres' art studio, where we were also going to have the going away party later at night. As usual when we have all day barbecues, we started slow and didn't even start to eat until 3 or 4 pm. But we ate slowly and consistently for nearly the entire day after that. A bunch of my former students and other Ecuadorian friends had told me that they were definitely going to be there for the going away party, I was pretty disappointed to find that other than the people who were there for the barbecue, no one showed up.
For one reason or another, people couldn't make it. Some had texted me to let me know they wouldn't be arriving, and others just never said anything at all. It was a let down, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit offended, but there's nothing that can be done about that now. And the only thing that saved it was that the friends who were there made it a fun night. Though most of those people there were friends that I'd only made in the last few months, I guess we were closer than the people I'd known for most of the year.
We sat around after eating and drank some Zhumir while a few of the artists started painting on a huge canvas taking up the whole courtyard. I even contributed a little bit, though it was the worst part and was soon covered up with paint. Realizing that no one else was going to show up, we simply left for a bar to get some beers, went to Charlie's apartment to make more food, and then split off into different directions. I went with another friend, Akin, to a club, but only for a short while before heading home. The day was good enough and I was tired, so I didn't feel like pushing it.
In the end, the going away party is only as good as the people you have there. It would have been nice to be able to say goodbye to all of the friends that I'd made over the year, but it was good enough to be there with the people who actually wanted to be there. It's tough enough to move on after such a long time and say goodbye, and in dealing with that you sometimes lose contact with the people you'd known the longest. I leave Cuenca on Tuesday, bound for Quito first. Then I'll be traveling with a friend to a crater lake in a pueblo called Quilotoa for a couple of days. And early on the morning of August 1st I'll be leaving Ecuador for Miami, and eventually Boston.
People keep asking me if and when I'll be back. I always tell them I'm not sure when, and not for a while, but I'd like to. And it's true. I would like to come back at some point, but I have no idea when that will be. It's a big world, and I want to see as much as possible. Having already spent a year here, I know there are other places I could spend my time in. But I've also thought that maybe upon my return to the U.S. from Argentina, whenever that is, I could arrange to have a flight out of Ecuador, so that I could return again. We'll see.
Now I have to get my act together to pack and wait around for the final moments before departure. I have no doubts that it will be difficult. It's all a part of the process.