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This week in Cochabamba looks to be shaping up as a dreary affair. After the last weeks dizzying parties and the weekend’s climax on Saturday night, the week beginning Monday the 14th of November looks to be getting a lot of people down. This is the hangover folks, and it’s time to say goodbye.
I’m not going anywhere of course – I’m in Cocha until after new years – but of the 15 or so volunteers here at the moment, 6 are leaving between last Friday and this Friday, retreating back to their little corners of the world to continue the lives we have all put on hold. It seems weird that I should be writing a blog titled ‘Goodbye’ when I am only a third of the way through my stay but whatever, things in Bolivia are never as they seem.
Goodbyes are hard, they are probably the single most loathsome aspect of human interaction, but they are necessarily also the most unavoidable – this week is going to be full of them. I do not look forward to the inevitable long final hugs, nor do I relish the chance to make a few scrambling, apologetic promises to keep in touch and come visit one day. I know and everyone else knows full well that, despite our reluctance to admit so, many of these endings may be forever. No one wants to say it because of course, saying goodbye is rough – a much more poignant, ‘have a nice life’ would probably warrant a slap in the face tonight, but why do we take so much pain out of these last moments of our friendships? Why can’t we just force ourselves to realize that these things happen and will most probably continue to happen for the rest of our lives? Why is ‘goodbye’ the hardest thing to say?
Last night I was privy to a rather intimate family moment between a good friend that I have made in Bolivia and his older brother; I looked on as time ran down on what was their first weekend together in over a year and watched as they parted ways for another. Before the night was out, my friend seriously considered running the Irish goodbye, where we would wait until his brother was away from the table and leave silently, thus sparing the face-to-face agony of ‘see you in a year’. We had almost collected our things and were seconds from leaving but I think in the end it was never going to be a good idea. The spared emotion is not quite worth the loss of the last farewell and escaping the final moment doesn’t change the fact that the person you care about is no longer at your side. Still our problem remains.
As tonight fast approaches and two more of our volunteers… make that friends… find their final seconds in Cochabamba ticking away there will undoubtedly be tears, but let’s leave it at that. Maybe our paths will cross again somewhere down the line, but there are billions of people in this world that we are still yet to meet, and an upshot of having our merry band of volunteers disbands across the globe is that now, we all have beds waiting for us in 4 continents should we ever find ourselves in these countries. Australia, Germany, The Netherlands, Texas, New York, Oregon, and of course… fucking Denmark. I plan to enjoy tonight, and the rest of this week, as I have enjoyed the past month – drunk, screaming and with my friends. And I plan to use the dreaded, ‘have a good life’, as a final wish, because I know it will piss some people off and that’s pretty the whole reason I’m alive. But, like Will Smith at the end of the first Men in Black movie when he neutralizes his partner and says goodbye forever; if one of you says to me “I’ll see you soon”, I will respond with a wink and a smile; “no, you won’t.”