The last couple of days have been without blogs because we’ve been staying at the Malambo orphanage where we teach and the internet is very unreliable most times and after a big rain it does not work for a couple of days. But here is a brief recap of the last couple of days as we are wrapping up our time here. Brittany, Alyssa, Madison, and I have gotten the pleasure of living in the house with all the little boys. When we got there, the house mom warned us that little 8 year old Irving could be a handful sometimes. He was so darn cute, so we underestimated the little booger. The next day, he threw Brittany’s hat onto the roof. We love him though. After all, he just wants attention like every other soul in the world, and that’s probably the quickest way he gets any.
Living here we’ve been able to really live with our kids. Play with them, lay with them, eat with them, talk, and just be. Our bathrooms are community style and in the mornings I shower next to the window so I can hear the kids playing outside. I feel so at home here and hate that I have to leave.
Friday, was the day of the big show and it was chaotic. It was filled with makeup, music mess-ups, tears, slices of pizza, Mary McBride, and fun. That is definitely an under-description of that day, but I think that just about covers it. On the bus ride over, the girls were unexpectedly little angels and one of the girls Genesis, held my hand the whole way there. We got off of the bus and walked to the theatre as the girls pointed and starred at the ocean in awe. We dressed up our girls like little cheetahs and took lots and lots of pictures. They were nervous and excited. They did an incredible job and left the stage with beaming smiles across their faces.
As much as I wish it does, dance doesn’t fix all their problems. But for those three minutes on that stage, nothing else mattered, they were happy. And hopefully, when they are having hard and sad days, they can think about that three minutes and remember that they won’t all be bad days.
Performing with the university students was so much fun as well, and its pretty cool to say that I have so many cool new friends from Panama.
On Saturday we taught at another foundation in a city called Chepo, and although we were delirious and exhausted, we got through it and we had a lot of fun. After a long and brutal four hour ride back to Malambo, we played with our girls for a couple of hours and then ate dinner and went off to bed. I fell asleep at 9:30.
On Sunday (today) Anna took us to her friend’s house on their private beach. It was incredible and just what we all needed after a very long and tiring week. It was so beautiful, I wanted to take pictures of everything and every moment. But at some point, you have to just stop taking pictures and decide to be there. We played in the water, laid in hammocks, talked, filmed a music video, ate delicious food, played pool while jamming to reggae, and drank coffee while we watched the sunset. Bliss.
Saying goodbye to the kids was hard. (understatement of the year, but I can’t find any other ways to put it.) After rushing home from the beach, we went to the house where most of our girls resided (about 11 of them) and went to say goodnight for the last time. After many hugs, besos, screams, monchinches, and secret handshakes, I corralled them all over and explained to them that this would be the last time we’d be seeing them for a while. At first, it WAY went smoother than expected. They all gave us hugs with sad, yet hopeful faces and gave us notes and presents. After about 15 minutes of that we decided we should probably leave and that’s when things got difficult. They started to block the door, and take our stuff away so that we couldn’t leave. They still had their little mischievous smiling faces on though, so we were still in the clear. After we finally gathered our things and walked out the house, they started following us. And then one started crying, and then they all started crying, and then we all started crying. And as we all just held each other and cried, I prayed for them. Genesis gave me a lot of things, and even after I kept saying “chica, no mas” she insisted. The last thing she gave me was a little sharktooth-shaped rock. She placed it into my hand, balled up my fist one finger at a time, and then put my hand to my heart. After many more painful “te amo”s and “te voy extrañar”s it was time for us to pry them away, wipe their faces and then ours, and say “buenas noches” for the last time.
Its one thing for them to like me. For them to jump and scream when they see me and give me hugs and kisses. They do that to everyone. They are sweet souls, and they are starved for attention. But it goes deeper than that. Even though it’s been a short time, we KNOW them, and they KNOW us. These kids get mad at me. They get annoyed by me. They get frustrated when I tell them I need my phone back. They manipulate me. I give them instructions that they don’t like to hear. I tell them no. They tell me no. They are comfortable with me and I with them. We share things, and not share things. Its more than just hugs and kisses, and monchinches, and its more than just dance. Its love, and all that it entails.
The next morning, most of us woke up at 4am to be at the airport at 5:30am, said our see you laters, and went on our separate journeys home.
As I sit here thinking back on this Pure Blur of a week, I am filled with a conflicted, yet gracious heart. Conflicted with questions about the future, whether we can ever return, and what will happen to all the kids. But grateful for the memories, the laughs, our group of volunteers, and this program that will continue to provide opportunities for these kids far past what we are able to do as individuals.
I have a whole lot of family and a whole lot of love in Movement Exchange. Thank you.
Note: I didn’t get any bug bites until the very last day and yes I’m a little bitter.
My baby Genesis.
Tayina and I as Cheetah Girls!
Our day in Paradise
Movement Exchange, It’s been real. Hasta Luego.