April 22nd
A happy week as I started teaching in Pachacutec at our new school……think “herding cats” as I realised that the game I had prepared, required the 6yr olds to be on single seats. They are on heavy “double” seats, so inspirationally (I thought) we all went outside to play the game in the sand. Then some bright spark started off a scare that they had seen an alacran – a big, poisonous, scorpion-like creature that I haven’t yet seen, apart from some possible holes in the sand around the area. Well, lots of rushing around, play-screaming (no not by me, I managed to control myself, just!!-being older and bigger than the class, I thought I better had!) later, defeated but not down, in we went for some more inspirational stuff that we all enjoyed. Home I went, worn out, white with the dust and hoarse from the unaccustomed 3hrs plus of singing…..lucky if you’ve never heard me, honestly! The day was excellent, with lots of questions from children, especially the 8yr olds who were more confident. “Ronald”, alias Alonso (“I prefer Alonso miss”, “ok, Alonso it is”). eg is England bigger than Lima?” “Yes, it is rather” “but is it near Lima” “no, it’s the other side of the world. When we find a map of the world I’ll show you” “So are all the people big like you?” “more or less….some of my pupils in England are bigger than me already” “really? “What do you eat to make you so big…we don’t leave any food on our plates here, because there’s people here who don’t eat all day miss” – “Yes I know”.. silence.
But when you ask “have you eaten today?” they just smile and say “I think so”, which means “no”….a child offered me a fragment of a tiny sweet biscuit that he had brought in for his break. The rest of the biscuit was his breakfast and may be lunch too. I felt terrible but as I tried to offer it back to him, he looked so hurt that I ate it. I offered him a piece of my banana, he refused. I still haven’t got the hang of the code of politeness which even the poorest people observe……..that to offer you something- and it may well be all that they have – is a requisite of politeness here, but to accept something back somehow implies admitting that you are hungry, which they don’t do.