The promised entry...
It's Semana Santa...FINALLY!!!! I have been counting down the days until today, 'till this moment of freedom. I never thought this week would end, that the rain would stop, that exams would be over, that I would actually be leaving. I thought that surely my head would explode from hearing those little cries of "Teacher!" too many times in too short a time
. I couldn't wait to leave! A whole week with no real responsibility; now that's heaven. And yet, as I pulled out of town, waving goodbye to some students on the road, I felt a little twinge of something. A little sadness. A little regret. And with a start I realized that I was going to miss this place, this crazy little town where I've now lived for almost two months. It suddenly felt weird to be leaving for so long; the longest time away since I arrived was a long weekend. How strange not to be greeted with little kisses every time I enter or exit a room. How strange not to shower under a trickle of hot water each morning or sit and talk with my family after dinner. How strange not to pass the freakish, long-eared cows as I walk to school every morning. I realized how much I was going to miss my morning cafecitas chatting with Sandra, Mario, and the always hilarious Lisa while warming up next to the wood-burning stove in the school kitchen. How strange to be away from these things for a whole week. How strange that I've grown so accustomed to these things. But recently I've noticed that not only have I grown more accustomed to La Estrella, I've even come to appreciate its little eccentricities. I just discovered the other day that not only do the bus seats in my classroom provide endless entertainment when they crash over in the middle of class, causing little shrieks and giggles, and a halt to the lesson so that I can right the fallen chair, but they also have a new practical use. When it is necessary for my students to huddle around my laptop to watch a movie, the bottom parts of the seats detach and form perfect cushions to put on the floor so no one will get too dirty
. This is a very good discovery because the last time I had my poor kids sit on the floor, which is unfinished cement, they stood up totally covered in dirt. And it's not that I don't try to keep my classroom clean, it's just that it's so difficult when there is no door and half of my windows are still missing. Things tend to be blown in by the wind, dragged in by animals whose footprints cover all the tables in the morning, or brought in by nameless people who I'm assuming use my classroom as a place to meet friends and lovers away from the all-seeing eyes of the town. The arctic winds have subsided, and I do have a door leaning against the wall, so things are a moving along. Poco a poco I guess.
But a twinge is not caused by a crazy classroom, it's caused by the people in that classroom, and now increasingly by those outside of it too. I still have bad days, days when I just want to crawl into my sleeping bag and never emerge, days when my head aches from the effort of trying to understand what's going on around me. Some days I understand no Spanish at all, while other days I feel like a native speaker...well, almost. But those downs are always followed by ups. At the exact moment when I'm ready to give up, a student shows up at my door to give me a manicure. When I despair that I'll never have any real friends here, I'll spend an afternoon gossiping with Sandra or sharing stories with Ileana
. I've started to take dance lessons from Pedro, the guy who owns the bar, and one of my sixth graders, his niece. Yes, I've actually ventured into the only bar in town, and even braved the chisme by enjoying a few beers with my new friends. On a less scandalous note, I am now an official member of the Cultural Group of La Estrella and will soon begin rehearsals as the assistant director of The Little Prince. Now, instead of politely nodding a hello, the adults in town give me smiles and shouts of "Buenas, Teacher!", some even use my real name! And my kids are always a joy. Zarelia can finally say "My name is Zarelia" without a prompt. Joseth is always surprising me with her energy and intelligence. Kervin is actually beginning to study and do well on his tests, and the fifth and sixth grade was finally able to count to ten as a group. Outside of class I am always greeted with an enthusiastic "Hello, Teacher!" yelled from swing sets, trees, and at times even from some point above me on the mountain during afternoon walks. Today when we had a field day, they couldn't wait to show me cartwheels and get me into a game of soccer. I have come to feel wanted, loved even, and finally a part of this community. So despite the rain and cold, despite the bad days, despite all those random little annoyances, it seems that I have actually grown to love La Estrella, this tiny little mountain town with all its peculiarities. And as I pulled out of town today, feeling that strange little twinge, I realized that you don't get that feeling when you leave just any old place. You get that little pull at your heart when you leave home. And with a jolt I realized something that must have been sneaking up on me for quite some time now...La Estrella has become my home...
I wrote a very long and inspiring entry, really it was very good if I do say so myself, and as I was sending it, the internet went dead. So itīs gone now, lost to the internet gods. I will write another one at some point, and maybe it will be even better, but I just canīt right now. But hereīs some pictures...pictures that went along perfectly with my entry...but youīll still enjoy them even without the entry...so enjoy! Happy Semana Santa!