Since my initial visit to Santusa’s, we have kept in close contact. I have made many drop-in visits on the bike, even taking friends on occasion, and stayed again for a multi-day visit. When they are in town visiting their son, they stop by to say “Hi”. They are open and honest good people that show empathy towards others, and through them, I have experienced everything that is good here, but also what keeps this country down – prejudice and an archaic class system. Santusa and Damian treat me as an equal, and I them. I would do anything for them, as they would for me. Whenever doubts creep into my head about what I am doing, or if I simply get into a funk, just being around Santusa makes it all better. There is such a positive energy about her, always giggling or laughing, in spite of a difficult life. So, during my last visit when they asked me to be Padrino, or Godfather, to their youngest son I was incredibly touched. In their culture, a Godfather is someone to stands up for a child during the major events in their lives, i.e., graduations or weddings. It is a position of great honor just to be asked, and once you accept, you become part of the family. So, I am now considered their brother, and they are my brother and sister. If I am here next December I will stand up with Carlos during his high school graduation. They know that I may not be here, but with the relationships that I have made since "pausing" the trip, it will be incredibly hard to leave.
Follow-up to the follow-up:
- · The pottery pieces were dated from between 1200-1800, which could pre-date Incan times, or not.
- · Yale has not returned any of my calls.
- · When I went back to the States in October for a visit I was able to sell a lot of Santusa’s textiles at Write Around the World’s fundraising auction (and I brought her back some decent sewing scissors). Now, some of my most favorite people back home also have a piece of Santusa.
- · Damian has become accustomed to riding on the back of the bike, and I think sits a little taller now when we enter the town’s center square.
- · The black poncho that Santusa made Damian when their oldest son was only two is now one of my most cherished possessions, and keeps me warm on many a chilled mornings while drinking my coffee and answering emails.
- · That feeling of contentment is still with me.