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Tinkerbelle was purring extra hard and when I put her down to go. She scooted back up onto my shoulder and snuggled into her usual spot, with her head against my neck. There’s nothing so relaxing as carrying her around with me, hearing her purr. When I put her down for the last time, she didn’t settle back into the hay she’d been sitting in before, but instead stayed standing, staring at me for a few minutes with those gorgeous green eyes until I had to pull myself away.
Prince was also staring at me as I started to walk back up the driveway to the house. I had to run back and give him one final hug. We’ve been tight ever since I gave him lots of extra attention during a day of thunderstorms, which he hates. That day, he stood, terrified in the hallway and I hugged him for the longest time until he felt better. This time, hugging him was a comfort to me.
Part of me tried to soothe my sadness by reassuring myself that I can always come back. At the same time, I know that if/when I return, so much will have changed. The new riding center could be built, which will really change the way things run around here since it’ll be a car ride away instead of down the hill. Alexia might not be here, since she only comes at Easter and during the summer. Jon will be gone, since he’ll only stay for another year or so, and the other volunteers will probably all have moved on. So weird to think about, since the people are intertwined with the place in my head.
Ugh, it totally sucks to spend a month building relationships with people, getting used to a place, and then to leave it all behind. I’ll really miss Villa Silva.
Things I will not miss include:
- Horse poop. By the end, it didn’t gross me out at all. In fact, I was able to laugh as I said things like, "That wet hay just flicked poop in my face." But still…
- The ticking electric fence and constantly worrying I’d bump into it or accidentally lean on it. This happened to more than once person while I was there, throwing one person to the ground. Yikes!
- Vicious, persistent mosquitoes.
- Katarina, the loudest of the 3 Musketeers, whose bark set the other dogs off all day and all night long.
- Rooster noises, especially while I’m trying to sleep.
Looking back on the experience, I’m proud of myself for two main things. First, I became a local, rather than just a tourist. Second, I tried so many new things that scared me at first but turned out to be great, like cleaning horse hooves (ok, not great, but alright), leading and riding horses, speaking Greek and working in a real Greek restaurant.
I don’t have any real regrets. Of course, I wish I’d spent even more time snuggling the animals, but I don’t think it could ever be enough. I’m so glad for the hours I spent petting the Skyrians, carrying Tinkerbelle, typing with my laptop on the table so Hoppy could sit in my lap, and sitting on the kitchen floor as the kitchen dogs climbed all over me, jostling each other for the optimal petting position.
Rather than being sad, it’s time to focus on being grateful for the experience and trusting that I’m headed towards more beautiful places and friendly people.