After the parade, we went into the schoolyard. The school building is built around a central yard and it is this yard we donated cement for last year. Originally the yard was just a dirt field and when the rainy season came, it was unusable. It also created huge problems for the janitor!
We were seated on a porch, in a seat of honor, overlooking the yard. This year we donated money which bought 2 computers, whiteboards and books for the classrooms.
Bummer! It is at this point my camera decided to run out of battery! I asked Luis to take pictures on his camera, but I’m not sure how many he actually took. If and when I receive them, I will post them.
All of the students lined up by class and stood in formation while recognitions were made. Various people made speeches, and still the students stood. Then various sports teams were recognized, given new uniforms and medals. And still the students stood in formation. They were, however, getting a bit restless. I was reminded of when I was teaching in John Day and we would bus the elementary students to the high school cafeteria for hot lunches. We would demand they line up, be transported and line up again at the cafeteria without a word. What a useless endeavor we fought each and every day! These kids in Santa Cruz though we very well behaved and always respectful.
Finally, the students were dismissed and we were ushered toward a classroom where they were serving lunch. We had cabrito (goat) with rice and yucca. The goat was quite tasty but a bit tough.
This was also the time when many of the adults began drinking beer. Groups would buy a case of twelve 750ml (about a quart) and would share a bottle. The tradition is that one person pours themselves a glass of beer and passes the bottle on to the next person in the group. This person waits for the first person to finish the glass of beer and for him to pass it on. Then the second person pours a glass of beer, and passes the bottle on. That’s right, only one bottle and one glass at a time.
Doug’s group of friends shifted from eight to ten people throughout the afternoon. They finished up at least 4 cases. My group of women consisted of 4 or 5. I wasn’t drinking, so didn’t keep track of how much was consumed. Groups such as ours lined the playfield two or three deep. Our best guess-timate was about 30 groups drinking in the afternoon, during a school function, and on school grounds. It was not unusual to see students sent to the store and come back with a case a beer.
Meanwhile, in the square, athletic demonstrations were going on. A group of about 50 students performed piramids and other balancing acts. They started in rank and file; the teacher blew his whistle, and the students moved into groups. Another whistle and they set up their balance skill. Another whistle and students would climb on the backs of two others kneeling on the ground, or a student would pick up another’s feet while he/she had their hands on another person’s shoulders. Another whistle and they came down…..then back to the rank and file. This whole routine was done without any verbal cues at all.
Then came a gymnastics demonstration. Five girls were vaulting. The vaulting horse must have been made by the local carpenter; it consisted of five platforms stacked one on top of another with the upper most one having a cushion on it. The sides slanted inward, making a truncated pyamid. The pads the girls landed on were mattresses. Even given these disadvantages they performed vaults and somersaults quite well.
After this came several dancing groups. We saw the marinara and several Peruvian folk dances. These kids were all decked out in the colorful costumes of the region of the dance and enjoyed dancing. Teaching folk dances as part of our PE curriculum was like pulling teeth in the states!
Then came a volleyball match between two neighboring towns. I was really impresssed with the skills these girls had. They were very good, managed to keep the ball in play and had the crowd cheering.
After the volleyball came a soccer match between the two schools in Santa Cruz; one public and one private. The “field” was shortened to fit into the schoolyard, and each team played with six players including the goalie. It was quick and a lot of fun to watch. These kids grow up with soccer so you can imagine how good they are. They didn’t pull back at all, and the fact that they were playing on cement wasn’t a factor.
By this time it was almost 6:00. We went back to the hotel and took hot showers and rested. We were so tired, we never left for dinner, but slept through the night.