The last week of our stay was truly magical. The show came together in a way that can really only be described as a miracle. And the show itself was breathtaking... from the heart of the actors...to the incredible atmosphere that was created by all of the technical elements...to the overwhelming amount of people that managed to crowd into the chapel....just incredible. The parade through the town over to Es Artes for the reception was an experience of absolute jubilation. You know those times in life when the hair on the back of your neck stands up and you get this shiver over your body because you know that you will never be in this moment or even this kind of moment ever again..... this was the feeling this night. I kept trying to take moments to just look around and take it all in. It was... overwhelming. (Oh crap... here come the tears... and I haven't even gotten to the goodbyes yet!) The pictures Mike has posted tell some of the story - like the ones of the guy running through the crowd with the firecrackers strapped to his back. But none of them capture the true essence of those moments and I don't think I am doing a very good job of conveying that here either. I think it was one of those things where you really just 'had to be there'.
After the euphoria of the launch on the Sat. (and the disco that followed) came the letdown. Those of us who work in theatre know that after the closing night there is always the sadness that follows - the realization that that experience is over and will never happen again and the goodbyes to all of those people that we have been working so closely with for so long. Well, amplify that by a million and you might come close to what it was like to try to say goodbye to this project and the people we had been working with. It was lovely to be able to move into the fancy hotel and seclude ourselves a bit with our thoughts. But the goodbyes are inevitable... and so they began... First was to a large group of girls in the cast who came and found Sean and I at the hotel. There were flowers and pictures, hugs and tears, and one girl, Lili, who found the strength to sing through her tears a song of goodbye. It was one of the most moving, emotional experiences of my life. Next, it was to Mario and Tatiana and Mike's muchachos. All moving in their own way. Mario, the incredible props guy, stage manager, dance choreographer (and proud papa too!) Tatiana, the reason this project happened. What a truly incredible woman she is! It was an absolute honour to be able to work with her for this short time. Ahhhh.... and Mike's Muchachos! What a great bunch of young guys they are. So dedicated... so eager to learn... so awesome! And what great dancers! :)
For me the goodbyes got harder as we neared the end of our stay. I found Zoila in the square and got some pictures. I had learned how to say 'I will miss you' in Spanish and she gave me a big smile and a 'Yo tambien' in reply. We hugged and smiled and cried a little too and somehow the language barrier no longer mattered. She is another truly incredible woman that I was very lucky to be able to get to know just a little bit. Finally, on our last night we had a sumptuous dinner at the hotel with Eu. I don't know what I would have done without her. She was my right hand gal, seamstress, Dresser for the show, translator, confidant, and friend. She is an incredible young woman - bright, creative, extremely talented. Saying goodbye to her was incredibly difficult as we had pretty much spent from sunup to sundown together for the whole 3 weeks I was there. We may not see each other as much (facebook and skype are poor substitutes for cervezas in the square at Lupitas) but I know that she and I will be friends for the rest of our lives.
The culture shock since being home has been extreme and it was good that I had a couple of days to just try to process everything before having to go back to work. (ask me about my trip to Zehrs sometime!)
I guess in the end I feel kind of guilty as I feel like I got way more out of this experience than I feel that I gave. It was only 3 weeks but it seems like so much more. There is something about that town and it's people - it gets into your soul and you are not quite the same after you leave. I may be home and jumping back into life here but Suchitoto will always have a part of my heart.
Adios Suchitoto. Te voy a extranar!