The reality of this adventure finally starting to come to a close was finally starting to sink in. As I was heading back to the high school the night before I started to feel a little feverish. Being around 100 other students, doing physically demanding labor combined with the lack of sleep I was getting were probably not the best things for my health but luckily I hadn’t gotten sick thus far. Sofía was in charge of taking care of the sick people so she had told me all about her trips to the hospital and how she had to send some people home for being so sick. I was hoping that going to sleep would make the achy feeling go away which luckily, it did! Everyone woke up this morning and ate a relaxed breakfast. Finally, the last time I would ever have to eat this bread!
At the site, as a part of the inauguration, everyone received a paper and were prompted to write a dream we had for the future: A dream for our future lives, a dream for the future lives of the families we helped or a dream we had for the future of Chile in general. Everyone put his or her dreams in a hole and we buried them under our final wooden cylinder. Everyone received a bracelet that said TECHO – Secondarios and we marked the cylinder by nailing to it one of these bracelets. Everyone was excited to have finished the 10 days but also sad to say our final goodbyes.
I never expected that I would get so close to my group but after spending 12 plus hours a day with them for the past 10 days we ended up knowing so much about each other. We had one final meeting with our groups where we each got a chance to share where we were at with the whole adventure and how we felt about the experience. Everyone got a little sentimental as we had our final group hug and said goodbye.
We separated into different buses depending on where we were going and Sofía and I finally got a chance to really talk about how the week went with the 10-hour bus ride. She was excited to hear what I thought of the whole process and experience especially as a foreigner. The bus ride was long and I kept thinking of how excited I was to take a shower and finally sleep in a nice, warm bed. The bus ride was long but also very beautiful. Since we embarked so late 10 days ago it was dark and I couldn’t see any of the ride. This time we spent all day driving so for the times I wasn’t napping I got some really beautiful views of the coast on one side and hills on the other as we headed down the 5. Chile truly is a gorgeous country.
When we arrived back in Santiago, the large urban city felt very different in comparison to the small rural area we had spent the last week. Sofía and I ended up walking to one of my cousin’s house hoping someone would be home to take me back to my great aunts house. (Little did I know my cousins were scheming behind my back the whole time). When I arrived back to my abode I was eager to say hello to my great aunt and uncle but also couldn’t wait for the much needed shower I was going to have. Little did I know 8 of my cousins were in the kitchen awaiting my arrival. Obliviously, I got in the shower and took a very long, relaxed shower scrubbing and re-scrubbing every part of my body. When I finished and got back to my room one of my cousins was there to direct me into the kitchen where they all exclaimed “Surprise, Welcome Back!” I was beyond the point of exhaustion but I was so thrilled to be able to see my favorite cousins before heading back to America the next afternoon. We had a small going away party with the most delicious home made soup and tres leches cake for dessert. My cousins made a recipe book for me so that I could bring a little bit of the Chilean culture I had learned back home with me. It was such an amazing surprise and the whole day felt like the perfect close to my two-month Chile adventure. I couldn’t believe that it was finally time to go back home. After such a long time here and with what felt like unfinished business still to be done, I was left with a feeling of abandonment. I was reassured with the thought that maybe one day I will be presented with an opportunity to come back and see the incredible progress that will take place in my absence.