Last night, after we came home from the mountain, we got into our groups and started to plan lessons for the school. I had completely forgotten about the school - everyone was on an adrenaline rush from the mountain and now it was starting to wane.
Our group got to work with the little kids, around ages 3 to 6 - the best age group in my opinion. And everyday we were planning to have a certain theme. Today's theme was family, which made sense because we were going to walk to the families' houses after school. So we divided into further groups: English and art. I was part of the English group last night, and we came up with family flash cards and a skit - something simple, but still something engaging. The art group came up with using Popsicle sticks to make houses, and then having the kids draw their families inside of them.
So this morning, we woke up later at 7am for breakfast before we went to the school at 8. The sun rises here a little before 5am, so I sat up in my bed for an hour waiting for 6am to come. Then I started to get ready.
After breakfast, we got in the bus and went to the school. We were all a little bit apprehensive because it was our first day and we didn't want it to go badly.
We got into our groups and walked quietly to the classroom that we were assigned to. We saw a bunch of little kids in there with excited smiles on their faces. A muffled hola was all we could really say. They didn't respond.
We moved their desks to the walls so we had room to sit in a circle and introduce ourselves. Our group leader, who was fluent in Spanish, explained to the kids what we were doing. They slowly came into a sloppy circle and we started.
"Hello, my name is Megan."
"Can you say your name?"
Again in Spanish. No answer. Some mumbled their names and we couldn't make out what they said. Some shook their heads when we asked them to say their names. It was going to be harder than we expected.
But we gave each of the kids a sheet of paper while our leader told them we were going to focus on family today.
They held the blank paper and carefully looked at it, unsure of what to make of it. Some of us got up and gave the kids 4 Popsicle sticks and they became more confused. We each sat down with one of the kids and helped them out.
I worked with a boy named Aryel. He wouldn't tell me his name, but I got him to write it. Most of these kids don't know how to read or write yet, and some don't know how to write their names. But luckily he did. It's hard to make conversation with a kid who is 11 years younger than you, and who does not speak your language. And you don't speak his. But I found out that he was 5 years old and through his picture he told me he had a mom, a dad, and no sisters but 3 brothers. He also had a dog, 2 cats, and some cows. Somehow they all fit in his Popsicle stick house.
When we finished, we hung them up on the wall, and I put my hand out to give him a high five. At first he was confused, but he got it.
Then we got up and showed them our drawings of mom, dad, sister, brother, and grandparents. They caught on a lot faster than I thought, and they thought our little skit was hysterical. They started to warm up to us and talk a lot more. After we exhausted the flash cards, we asked them to explain their pictures and who was in their families. And some of them even said "mother", "father", and "brother" and "sister". I was impressed.
After that, we did another art project. We traced the kids hands and used crumpled up bits of tissue paper to fill it in. They got really excited about it, especially all the colors of paper we had. And they were going to give them to their parents at the end of class.
When they showed them to their moms, they were so excited and started rambling in Spanish.
Then school was over, and we headed out with our families. I went with 3 other girls from the group and a little boy named Kevin's family. He was in our school group. He had 3 brothers too, and they lived about 30 minutes away from the school.
Here's a quick science lesson. Sometimes, dirt roads are great at trapping and radiating heat. And luckily today, that's exactly what it did. We walked on the road, kicking up dirt into our shoes. We followed the mother as she walked up ahead, making sure her boys didn't wander.
I literally have not been hotter in my life. Sunlight burning your skin, heat rising from the ground, no shade and no wind. It was really bad. But then I thought that these families have to walk to school and home everyday. I'm doing it once.
When we finally arrived at their house, it was relatively large compared to others in the area. It was actually more like a large plot of land with some shacks on it. There was a big shack at the front for storage, shacks all up the sides and the back for the stables. They had chickens, geese, ducks, dogs, and a parrot. And next to their stables was a large ceramic bread oven. The mother explained that this is how they make their own bread and don't have to buy it. Near the place where the chickens stayed was the kitchen, which was a very small shack with some appliances. Outside was the small table where they ate.
We walked further down the property and saw the bedrooms Where the boys slept. The blue tarps over their beds were mosquito nets. There were a few toys strewn on the dirt of their property, and a few emaciated dogs wandering around in the shade.
Then the mother mumbled something and we all went to the beach. It was private property, in fact, and so the mother got down on all fours and climbed under the fence. We thought she was unlocking it from the inside, but instead she motioned for us to come under. So we threw our backpacks over and climbed under the fence. And then we went down to the beach, stopped, snapped a few pictures of some pigs fighting, and then continued on.
We walked to this deserted beach that was the most beautiful beach I have ever seen. The most beautiful things are the ones that people never see.
We met up with some other families and kids from our group and we all hung out at the beach for a while. But it started getting hot and so some of the kids ran in the water and started playing volleyball. Soon the moms were getting in the water and splashing around with their kids and I snapped that picture that won that contest.
They were all in the clothes, but they were all having so much fun. It was something beautiful and real, something I had never seen before.
Soon it was noon and we had to walk back to the school to have lunch at our house. We said goodbye to our families and headed back.
In the afternoon, we all went to another beach and swam in the beautiful Pacific Ocean. I am now adding to my bucket list "swim in all of the oceans". So far I have Atlantic and Pacific. I wonder how the Arctic Ocean is going to go over. .
But the beach was amazing and by far the best I have ever been to. The waves were high enough, the water was warm, and the sand was soft like liquid silk. We stayed at the beach until sunset, then came back home and had dinner.
Tomorrow we're heading back to the school, but I can't tell you what we have planned. You'll just have to wait. Until then, pura vida!