I shivered a little in the chilly night air as we stood outside at the bus station. It was almost 8pm and I knew the time had come for me to take my seat on the bus along with the other passengers. I turned towards Selena and she opened up her arms to me. I stepped forward to hug her warmth enveloped me as she wrapped her arms tightly around me. I heard her softly whisper "cuídate" in my ear. I pulled away and the light from the bus station spilled across her face. I could see my own sadness reflected in her big brown eyes. I already knew that I would miss her during the next week that we were apart, and I could see that she felt the same. I had spent the past two weeks living with her at the finca and during that time, she had become my Peruvian mother, and I had become one of her children.
I watched her hug her son Jose and I could see a great sorrow fill her face. The lines around her eyes that normally turned upwards with her smiling face were weighted down with sadness. I knew she loved her sons more than anything and I could only imagine that every parting must break her heart a little more than the last. One night I had asked her if living in a different place than them was difficult, and she exclaimed that it was the most terrible thing in the world. (Her sons Diego and Jose live and go to school in Lima for the majority of the year, while she stays in Villa Rica to manage the finca.) I had seen how happy Selena had been during the last ten days that Jose had been back helping at the finca. Every moment she was with him, she was happy and full of energy. Fortunately, Jose would return to the finca in two short days after taking care of some business in Lima while Selena stayed behind with visitors at the finca.
I waved goodbye to Selena one last time and stepped onto the bus. Jose followed shortly after and we took our seats. A few minutes later, the bus drove out of the station and we were on our way to the city. I leaned my head against the window and closed my eyes. We were about to spend the next nine hours winding our way through the bumpy roads and up over the mountains in order to get back to Lima. I fell asleep quickly, but my sleep was troubled and restless. I woke up a short time later and peered through the foggy window. All I could make out in the blackness of the night was the dark and blurry figure of an enormous mountain beside us.
I willed myself back to sleep and spent the rest of the ride falling in and out of consciousness as the bus bumped over the rocky roads.