Saturday was our final day in Ciudad de Dios. Today nine of us are off to Lima, leaving Melissa (our fearless leader) to bring closure to the project. I won’t even pretend to have begun processing the past few weeks, so keep checking the blog as we all try to sort through our experiences, emotions, and ideas.
Friday was our last day of working on the water system. In the morning, while we waited for a pipe delivery, we completed the mural in the Plaza de Armas. It is now 42 meters of vibrantly colored landscapes, accented with symbols of the ancient Moche culture and a stylized representation of the town itself. We climbed up a neighboring hill to get the full effect, and it really does give Ciudad de Dios a fantastic splash of color. The uniform brown of the adobe houses and dusty streets is now broken by a long vein of green and blue, and hopefully this will be the first of many community beautification and pride initiatives.
The water system is nearly completed, and we are all heartbroken to be leaving without seeing the water flow through the taps. It will certainly be finished within the next few days, but the funding crisis (which is still occurring–visit savethemoche.org for more info) slowed our progress significantly. Melissa will update us all about how the final steps of the project go.
Yesterday the people of Ciudad threw a marvelous fiesta for us, probably the biggest the town has ever had. Saying goodbye was hard, but they certainly made sure our last day was unforgettable. After a feast of grand proportions (cuy, or guinea pig, was the main dish), we celebrated the end of our time there with dancing. The music eventually came to an end, and we made our way through the crowds to say goodbye. As we walked down the hill for the final time, dusk was quickly turning to night. It was strange to leave Ciudad that way, with the landscape and the faces of the friends we had made obscured by the darkness. I could feel my memories of the town already fading. In vain I tried to take everything in, grasping at the images that I had taken for granted every day, trying frantically to secure it all in my memory. But the vague remnants of daylight did not provide enough illumination to distinguish the brilliant colors and textures of the landscape, and it was not enough to make a final observation of the expressions on peoples faces. Climbing onto our bus, I began to panic. What if I forgot what I had seen there? As we drove away, shouting Ciao to the children that had followed us to the bus, I tried to reassure myself that I could not possibly forget all of the beauty and warmth of Ciudad, nor could I forget all of the hardship. Peering out the window into the now blackened countryside, I realized that the beauty I was earnestly seeking to sear into my memory was not the kind that was found in the physical surroundings. The connection I felt to the community, especially strong in those final hours, was not lessened by the receding daylight.