Day 350 - Working together
Today was my last day to go down to El Progreso, and I arrived with only two objectives—to say my goodbyes, and to finish the map.
When I arrived I got right to work painting the Peace Corps symbol and the Salvadoran flag. While I was waiting for the paint to dry on those things, I broke out a bunch of markers and had the eighth graders help me draw in all the borders. That's what they're working in this photo. The reason they are all so close together is because we only had two desks to use for reaching the top.
Once that was done, we peeled the masking tape off from around the edges, in preparation for the varnish. Unfortunately, underneath the tape we found a horrible sticky mess. So, I decided to paint a green border around the whole map. This turned out to look really good, and I probably should have done it anyways.
Once that was done, I got out the varnish, and put all the paint away. While I waited for the border to finish drying, I went down for a quick swim. When I got back, I started applying the varnish, when tragedy struck—the varnish made the ink from one of the markers we used dissolve and run down the map in great black streaks. I acted quickly, grabbing water and a sponge, and washed most of it off. Despite this rescue, however, I realized that I wouldn't be able to varnish the whole map. I did the oceans, and a few parts where I could remember which marker we had used, but all of Africa, Europe, and Asia stayed uncovered, which looks kind of funny. In addition, the parts that are uncovered are susceptible to stains and flaking. I'm hoping that in a couple of days the marker will dry fully, and somebody else can finish putting the varnish on. If the same problem occurs again, I've suggested that they use a spray-on varnish. As a last option, they can write over the bad marker with a good marker, and then apply the varnish.
The tragedy will have a happy ending, it was frustrating to walk away from the map knowing that it was so close to finished, but that I wouldn't be the one to make that final brush stroke.
When I finally left, I walked up the hill with two seventh grade girls who had waited for me. I hadn't know them all that well, but they wanted to walk with me to say their last goodbyes. When we got to their houses (they live next door to each other) they both gave me a hug.
It was tough walking the rest of the way up to Torola. I walked slowly, and stopped often to look over my shoulder. Though I'm not going to leave Torola until Monday, leaving El Progreso for the last time today felt very much like the end. For the last year and half, it has been in El Progreso where I've made my closest friendships and my proudest accomplishments. Though I intend to come back and visit as early as next March, today I was struck with the fact that a significant chapter in my life was closed as I took my last step out of the community.