Back to Cali to pick up Lilia with just enough time to explore some more in Cali. Omaira shouted me lunch so I didn’t leave without having some typical Cali fare. It was lovely. Valentina was kind enough to take me up to the Christo Rey statue (second in size to the statue in Rio), a popular park that contained cat statues by a local artist and a rooftop bar. Valentina was studying to be a pilot and now flying solo but was still getting familiar with driving a car so it was a fun drive up to the Christo Rey lookout!
Lilia and I left Cali in the morning and arrived back in Palermo that night – quite a journey. I’d just finished reading the fabulous book ‘All the night we cannot see’ – a book about a blind French girl set in world war 2 and then found myself watching two consecutive movies on the bus that were based on blind women. I was hoping there wasn’t some hidden message in this but I was certainly feeling grateful for my sight and all the other senses I was blessed to have.
I ran into Tato (the artist) the next day and the first thing he said was “Hola Lettie. Gorda”. I knew when I was being called a fat woman! The theme continued with the other Tato’s mum (Luz Elena) turning up at Lilia’s later in the afternoon and using the phrase ‘bueno, ahora ella no delgada’ – ‘good, now she’s not skinny’! Ok, I was getting the message!
On my last day Lilia and I visited some of the local poorer families to drop off the clothes and cosmetic products I no longer needed. They were such generous people, sending us away with fruit from their gardens. One family was good enough to kill a chicken while I was there. Now there’s an experience I could have lived without!
Alejandra later independently shared her thoughts on the subject of my weight. No doubt about these Latin Americans, they don’t hold back on their thoughts! Paula subsequently phoned while we were having a farewell lunch at Las Palmas and when I laughed about what had been said she kindly assured me it was intended as a compliment – it meant I was healthy and had enough money to eat! So funny but I resolved that October and November would be exercise filled months …. and no more cervecas!
Despite my extra weight it seemed I was still attractive to the odd local. One of Nelson’s friends was lunching at Las Palmas and became besotted with my eyes. They change between green and blue and they happened to be particularly blue that day (a rare sight for Latin American colombianos). After communicating he was an escort and on further questioning elaborating an escort of goods I decided to not take that line of conversation any further!
After extracting myself from the over the top adoration of el hombre we headed back into town. My plan was to communicate a few farewells but alas it was Wednesday, which meant most of the shops/cafes were closed and everyone was indoors so instead I waited for the kids to finish school and come past the house to hand out the Thousand Island Dressing bracelets Leanne had generously giving to me to give away. The girls loved them and the boys were happy to have something to give their mums. The kids were still asking when I’d be back for the English lessons so I was leaving with the hope that they may pursue English lesson opportunities when they arise in the future.
I spent the last evening in Palermo finishing the rest of my macrame projects for Paula with the help of Alejandra and her daughter Valaria. It was really nice that they were hanging around as I sensed Lilia was getting anxious about my impending departure.
It was a sad farewell to my second home but Lilia had been responding “a year more or less” to anyone who asked when I’d be back so when she wouldn’t let me go and the bus was waiting for me I reminded her I’d be back soon enough. Big hugs from a gorgeous little woman who’d been so caring and a great Spanish teacher to boot!
The bus journey back to Medellin was quite lovely as I headed out between the misty mountains. It had its usual laughs, this time provided by the mobile buskers who shared a couple of songs en route to Medellin.
The final days in Medellin had been spent shopping and self indulging with a hair appointment (always a nerve racking experience when you can’t communicate in a common language and this one was no exception) and spa treatments. I’d been very restrained while I was here so it was nice to have a bit of a splurge.
So here I am sitting having dinner in a casual Fonda. I’ve just had a little girl sit with me asking about the horses in my country! Apparently she loves horses!?!? Sweet.
What an amazing six months! I’d lived and breathed a culture so different from ours. I’d learned to be a little more tolerant (only saying a little!) and I’d had the chance to evaluate the strength of a few relationships and their value in my life….and of course I’d learned the basics of building an earth bag structure! I’d also visited some other amazing parts of the world and honed my sketching skills. Feeling lucky to be alive, healthy and to have these opportunities!
I will be forever grateful to Paula for leading me down this path. I have no doubt the experience has changed (in a positive way) what my future now looks like. Thank you my dear friend!