May 20, 2015
Chorillos, near Lima - Today was divided between two schools. This morning we were at Newton College, a very blue chip school even further away than El Colegio Peruano Britanico. Traffic was predictably horrible. Again. Did I mention that the access road into our neighborhood is two way traffic? I mean, two way traffic in every lane. Or that corner gas stations are routinely used as thoroughfares? Or that “La Mano de Dios” is actually the name of one of the taxi companies? Basta.
We barely squeaked into Newton on time only to find that our contact teacher was absent due to a death in the family. It’s always a little disconcerting when even the secretaries are unclear about what’s happening. But they were on top of finding out. They put their heads together and were addressing the problem in no time. After everything got sorted we were escorted to the auditorium where students were even then filing in. It was at this point I was introduced to Rowan, one of the teachers at the school. I mentioned to him that he shared a name with my daughter and he seemed surprised. But my performance was waiting so we put off further discussion for later.
But then the earthquake alarm went off. Not a drill, mind you. This was an alarm triggered by a living, trembling earthquake. A common occurrence along the Andes. One of the teachers turned to me and said, "Welcome to Peru." Those of us in the auditorium never felt anything, but other folks in the school building had. The routine was much like a fire drill back home. All of the students in the school filed out and gathered in the playing fields. That all seems fine if the buildings are still standing. But I couldn't help but wonder if this was a practical plan when the big one comes.
We all hung around outside for a bit while teachers did a head count. I’m not sure what exactly constitutes an “all clear,” but at some point everyone decided it was OK to head back in. So we did, and I was able to get my first two programs of the day delivered with creditable aplomb. Further conversation with Rowan revealed that his name was actually Rohan, as in “Riders of…” But I took his picture anyway.
My next two programs weren’t until 3:00 pm, so Pablo and I headed home, made some pasta for lunch and took a rest. On our way to the afternoon programs at El Colegio Franco Peruano we passed some interesting topiary, an elephant and an eagle?It looked like a duck to me.
El ColegioFranco Peruano is a bilingual school, but it’s bilingual in Spanish and French. English is an elective. For a while Pablo (who lived in France for a while) and I were conversing in all three languages with a few of the teachers, often times changing languages mid sentence. I love that kind of stuff.