For lack of a better word, this post is titled “despedidas”. Can’t think of a good translation. Farewell party? Nah, too archaic. Send-off? Too military… Goodbye ceremony? Not funky enough. So, despedida it is.
I consider myself a bit of an expert on despedidas. After almost sixteen years in Honduras, I have organized many and have been to many more. In Copán Ruinas, despedidas are frequent, because there’re so many people who come here to live for longer or shorter periods and for many different reasons. There are the Mayatan Bilingual School teachers (who look younger every year, but that’s what we say every year), the archaeologists, Spanish students, volunteers, aid workers, missionaries and a handful of lost people who’ll be lost forever, unrelated to wherever they are. Some you barely get to know, others become close friends. And of course, the closer friends they become, the harder it is when they leave.
I actually don’t like despedidas at all, because I hate to say goodbye. But, if you have to, you might as well do it in such a way you’ll never forget. Or at least as long as it takes to recover from the hangover.
Some of our despedidas were legend. Remember the Oy Awards for Sarah? The red carpet, a real TV reporter and awards for the best street dog, chef, drama queen and most desired bachelor (for which I was nominated, but lost it to Lloyd, dammit!). That was the queen of all despedidas. But there was also a good one for Marcus from Denmark with a Smurf theme, including Smurf porn, if I remember correctly. Quincy’s despedida lasted a whole month and left everybody completely exhausted (and dehydrated and poor). I remember despedidas in Tunkul with René and Lisa singing a duet while Aidan was playing leprechaun on the roof beams. But mostly I remember nothing at all, which probably has to do with the generous amounts of alcohol that are usually present at despedidas.
About two weeks ago we celebrated the despedida of our friend Argi. After seven years of friendship, that was a tough one. A loooong one too. The party was great, the hangover monumental, so it was a good idea that Argi had decided to plan a whole day for recovery before taking off. The day she actually left, we met for breakfast with a few friends, as an after-despedida, and then escorted her to the bus station. It was really not a lot of fun. Sitting there waiting fort the bus to leave, trying not to tear up. What’s there to say when so little time is left and all has been said? Finally the bus was about the leave and we said our final goodbyes. (Actually, we didn’t because we decided that was too painful. We said “hasta luego”).
I left the bus station with Kristin and Lizzette, feeling empty and overwhelmed at the same time. We got into a moto-taxi. We avoided looking at each other, because it was pretty obvious that all three of us would start bawling if we did. Then, as the taxi drove off, Lizzette started singing “Kum Bay Yah My Lord, Kum Ba Yah”. Kristin and I immediately joined in and there we went:
Kum Bay Yah My Lord, Kum Ba Yah. Kum Bay Yah My Lord, KUM BA YAH!!!!
The taxi driver watched us quite alarmed trough his rear view mirror as we passed the cantinas, up the hill, while singing on top of our lungs.
Kum Bay Yah My Lord, Kum Ba Yah
Oh My Lord, Kum Ba Yah…
And somehow, that really made me feel better…
(There you go Argi, this one’s for you! You’d never have guessed you were “gospeled” out of Copán!!!)