Yesterday, after very little sleep, the youth rose early to leave our house in the forest. We packed our bags. We only lost a soccer ball, a solar-powered charger, a change of clothes, 2 CDs, and probably 6 disgusting, muddy socks. I told Csaba, our host, that he will discover these things in his house over time and that they were our gifts to him, especially the socks. He was delighted. We then gathered on the front porch for pictures in our 20th Anniversary t-shirts. I will admit that I cried seeing them laugh and hug. I don’t know how we have managed it, but somehow, in spite of the differences in language and culture, we have grown quite close. All of us are in awe. It feels a little like grace.
The youth and I headed back to Barot to pick up the adults for a day trip. Even though it was difficult to leave the forest, the day together allowed us to reflect on our experience. We shared our memories, but there didn’t seem to be words to express our joy of the experience, our grief about leaving, or how it has changed us. So, it was the land outside our windows and the sounds of the road that spoke to us. I was so tired, truly exhausted, and yet, I didn’t want to shut my eyes so that I could fill my memories with the beauty of this land. Daniel described the journey in our journal: “A road barely more than a bus width. One-lane bridge over a slow river, its banks crowded by drooping green brush. Dark grey-blue over peachy white. There’s just been this terrific downpour, the road full of fronds of splashing water sown like jets of fresh cool wind. Wonderfully cool now. Somehow makes the end-coming sweeter and less abrupt. Creates a kind of timelessness and soup of recollection, immersion, and expectation…all in one.”
We explored the city of Segesvar, visited the church on the hill, bought our presents for our friends and family, and sat together outside in the sunshine. Enjoying our last moments. Returning to Barot, we joined all of our host families for dinner at the Party Pub, where we toasted each other, took pictures together, signed t-shirts, and gave hugs.