Today I had no classes because there were going to be games at school. I wasn’t for sure what everything was going to be about. All I knew what that everyone, meaning the entire school, was meeting in the park (town square) at 7am. I rolled out of bed around 6:30am and left at 7:00am. The park is close to the house and nothing starts on time here so I figured I didn’t need to get there early.
When I got to the park there weren’t a lot of people there. I was a little concerned at first because hardly any students were there and I saw no teachers. So I just started walking around to say hi to my students that were there. As more people began to arrive I went to greet all my classes. I noticed that there were several people dressed up in costumes and some little girls in fancy dresses wearing sashes. I asked the 4th grade teacher what that was all about. Apparently each class was a team and they all had their own mascot and madrina (godmother). The people in costume were the mascots for the classes and the little girls were the madrinas.
The madrinas were all very beautiful. Many of the girls had on fancy dresses and wore sashes with the grade and section of the class they were representing. They all carried flowers of some sort as well. One of the little girls, Jennifer, is the girl who always gives me hugs when she sees me. He brother is in my 4th grade class but she was representing one of the 5th grade classes. The madrina for the 4th grade class was Melissa, who is the girl that attends class with the boys. I’m still not sure why she’s a student in the class since it’s an all boy’s school, but I’m guessing she’s someone’s relative. The littlest madrina, Géne, was afraid of me. I’m pretty sure it’s because I’m white. I get that sometimes from little kids.
I loved the costumes that I saw! There were two kids dressed up as death, and also a tiger, a dog, a chicken, a bird, a leopard, and Scooby Doo. One of my favorites was Cipitío. Cipitío is a very popular character among Salvadoran legends. He is a small and big-bellied kid that never grew up. He appears at night as a scoffer spirit, making jokes, laughing, and dancing around his victims. According to some villagers, Cipitío throws pebbles to beautiful girls that go alone to wash clothes in the rivers. Despite being the son of a god Cipitío has the appearance of a poor child with a distortion in his feet, huge belly, and with the power to disappear from one place and reappear in another. Although harmless, Cipitío is very obnoxious. Generally, he makes jokes and laughs at his victims. His name comes from the Nahuatl word “Cipit,” meaning child, the same as “Cipote” which is a word to refer to kids in El Salvador.
I recognized several of the signs that the kids had as ones they’d been working on the past few days. Many of them had either the logo for Madrid or Barcelona soccer (fútbol) as well as the grade and section they were in. I later figured out that “the games” today were not relay type games but instead just fútbol. I should have known. However, I’m still not sure why they all put Barcelona or Madrid logos on their signs. I think that was supposed to be the name of their team. But with multiple Barcas and Madrids at some point a Madrid was going to end up playing another Madrid and a Barca playing a Barca. Whatever. Just go with the flow.
Each class also had a soccer ball wrapped up in celephane. I wasn’t sure what the purpose of that was at first but I later found out that it was to use at the games today. I also learned why having multiple fútbol balls was so important: because when they’re accidentally kicked over the fence you need one (or two) back up balls so you can keep playing
One of the kids from 5B dressed up as death
Jennifer, the madrina for 5B
5A class is Barcelona
Several mascots for 5B
Another kid dressed up as death, this one for 3A
2A madrina, Karla
Mascot for 1A
3A is also Barcelona
This madrina for 3A looks like Cinderella
Boys from 2B for Madrid
(not one of my classes, but still cute!)
My 6A class sporting yellow jerseys
My 4A class with their teacher and madrina
Me with my 4A class
Melissa, the madrina for 4A
Not sure if he's a chicken or a parrot
My 5A class getting in line for the procession
Another Real Madrid team
The drum line
Banner that was at the front of the procession
1A are the Little Tigers!
And now with the madrina who was afraid of me
My 6A class
Everyone's almost lined up
My 3B class is also Barcelona (the third one)
It's Cipitio with the madrina!
At 7:30 everyone had arrived and the teams had all lined up. We were going to have a procession to the school. Yay! There was a drum line up front that led the way to the school. I have always loved hearing drum lines in parades so I was excited. In front of the drum line were three kids holding a huge banner that welcomed people to the games, had the name of the school, the person they were honoring at the games, and the date. It was about a 20 minute walk to the school since we were going so slowly. I walked in the middle and toward the front taking pictures of the kids. Since I had so many classes I didn’t want to walk with just one class the whole time.
There is an all girl’s school next door to the boy’s school. When we got close I was walking next to my 4th grade class. All the boys started whistling at the girl’s school even though there were no girls in sight. Why did they do this? Because they’re boys and this is El Salvador and that’s what boys (and men) do in El Salvador when they see a person of the opposite sex. It’s acceptable behavior and they rarely chastised for doing it. Ask me what I think about that!!! Now, I have already lectured the kids twice this year about respecting women. And even though we weren’t in class I said very loudly, “No, no, no” and told them that they needed to give women respect. They hushed up pretty quickly. A ticked off gringa is not a pretty sight.
Starting the procession
Got to love that music
It felt good to be processing again
Here they come!
Lots of parents walked with the kids
They are very talented
Holding up the Barca sign
One of the soccer balls wrapped up
We arrived at the school a little before 8:00am. We went in the back entrance that opened up into the cancha (field) at the school. Once everyone arrived the director thanked everyone for coming and made a couple of announcements. Then the national anthem was played and we all stood. The kids stood with their teams on the field. Sometime after that they also played “Taps” which I thought was odd. Then it was time for the games to begin. The younger kids, 1st to 7th grade would stay at the school to play and 8th and 9th grades went to the cancha further up the hill. I stayed at the school since the grades I teach, 1st through 6th, were all staying there.
Entering the school
Announcements as we all arrived
Lots of kids
With lots of signs
They filled the cancha
My 2A class in their jerseys
My 5B class in the stands
My 3B class sporting their green vests
Time for the welcome
Made with real chicken feathers
The director of the school
At 8:45am the first game kicked off with 1st A playing against 2nd A. They are both my classes so I cheered for each one. I got to see each of my classes play which was a lot of fun. I took pictures of everyone but sometimes it was hard to tell who was playing. I have nine different classes and sometimes I still have a hard time figuring out who is who. I loved watching and listening to the kids in the stands as games were being played. They got very excited and would shout out if someone used their hands or broke another rule. I was only hit once with the ball during the game and it wasn’t that hard so I was lucky. The ball did seem to end up in the stands a lot.
One of my students that I was sitting with during the games had brought some kind of fruit at the concession stand area that’s permanently at school. He offered one to me. I asked what they were called and he told me they were mamones. I asked how to eat the fruit. You bite into it to get off the peel, which comes off easily. Then you suck on the fruit and scrape it with your teeth until all you have left is the large seed inside. I’d never had one before and they were very tasty. They were kind of like a small lychee fruit. I’ve seen them in the market before so I’ll have to buy them sometime.
Let the games begin!
First up, 1A and 2A
I'll take some cotton candy
4A and 4B getting ready
A kick off tie breaker
3A & 3B
He's almost got it
5B and 6B are ready to go
They are great players!
Serious looks from the fans
Video of the procession to school
I love a good procession!
I really enjoyed watching all the kids playing fútbol, and before I knew it, it was noon. The games ended and I walked back home for lunch. I worked on various things after lunch and a little before 2:30pm I headed out again. Today was to be my first day helping out at the foundation, which is the physical therapy clinic, here in town. It’s a two-minute walk from the house so I didn’t need to leave really early. It looked like rain but since the house is close I didn’t take an umbrella. As soon as I walked through the doors two little girls came up to hug me. What a wonderful way to be greeted! All the kids were there and playing already. I asked the woman in charge, Lorena, what time group started and she told me it was at 2:00pm. I guess we got our wires crossed. I’ll come at the right time next week.
I don’t know a lot about the foundation itself so I’m going to have to ask questions in the coming weeks. I’ll be volunteering there every Friday for an hour while they have group time. Kathy told me that the foundation serves over 100 kids in the area. During the time that I’m there I’ll be helping out with kids who have mental disorders like autism, Asperger’s, and mental retardation. I’m guessing most of the kids who go to the foundation have pervasive development disorders and learning and communication disorders. So I most of what they do during group time is fine motor skills things and socialization. I sat down to play with different legos and blocks with the kids and chatted with them a little bit.
Not long after I arrived a huge storm came into Berlín. It was pouring down raining and there was a lot of thunder. Unfortunately, there were a couple places in the roof that leaked and water from one area started coming into the room. The kids and I moved to higher ground while the parents and Lorena swept the water outside. I could tell this was something they’ve done before. It’s just one of the things that comes with living in El Salvador and not being able to afford proper roofing. And even with good roofing there can still be leaks that need to be plugged.
I had a really fun time playing with the kids and building things with them. I’m going to have to bring my camera sometime because they’re adorable. I learned three of the kids names today: Caesar, Jessica, and Evers. I think this is a drop in group so I’m not sure if the same kids will come every week or not. I could tell one of the moms really needed a break from her daughter, Jessica. Jessica is a really sweet girl and very affectionate, but she has a lot of energy and was bouncing off the walls. I’m guessing a pervasive mental disorder and possibly ADHD. Even for El Salvador, where the kids can be very rambunctious, this girl is wild. I hope she comes back next week because I think she’s precious! She’s one of the girls that gave me a hug when I came in and also blew me kisses.
I didn’t end up leaving until after 3:30 because it was raining so hard. Two of the parents stayed late because they had a long way to walk. I figured I’d just stay and play for a while longer. The rain let up a bit and we all said goodbye. When I returned home there was still no power. It began to get dark and Kathy still wasn’t back yet from Corozal with the ladies. It began to rain really hard again and it got dark. I lit some candles and called Cecilia to see where they were at. They were close to San Francisco and told Aminta she could go home. Good! I was getting worried about her being here so late. She has a long way to walk and it was still rainy and foggy. Thankfully, she took a motor taxi home.
Kathy and company got home around 5:30pm. They lit some more candles and we all puttered around a while in the dark. Fortunately, the power came back on at 6:00pm so I was able to get some more work done. That’s a good thing because tomorrow is another big day!