Catching up with our school’s teacher for the 4-year-olds, Mads and I got a unique perspective of Almeria as we chatted with this women on our perch of eucalyptus branches piled on the side of the road while waiting for our car to Izcuchaca. Though we never caught her name, this exhausted teacher said she was ready to shut her eyes and pass out after having chased around 27 4-year-olds throughout their five-hour school-day. Who could blame her? She told us she wakes up at 5 a.m. everyday to make the hour-long trip from Cusco to Almeria. In addition, she said she only makes 1,000 soles a month, and spends 5 soles a day getting to and from work.

Mads and I had the pleasure of teaching her class today, though only for a fraction of the time. And luckily, we were able to plunk them in front of a video that played English-Spanish songs. The kids were fairly well behaved for the first part of the 45-minute class, but several boys quickly needed more attention than a song about a hippo was providing. After wandering around the classroom, touching everything and grabbing anything that was off limits, they started to close in on each other, delivering pinches here, and toppling chairs there. Pretty soon there were three boys who had essentially stopped class and turned all attention on themselves. But how to top that? They decided the ultimate move of rebellion would be to completely leave the classroom and play outside instead.

All the better for me and Mads as we were now left with only the remaining 4-year-old angels. Except now, Mads was on door-duty. Standing in front of our classroom’s doorway, Mads had the job of reminding these particularly unruly boys that they had forfeited their privilege of learning the fate of that charming hippo. Well, this realization was too much for one boy and he let Mads know by punching her in her only eye-level body part, square in the crotch. Ah 4-year-olds.

I wish I could say the culprit had been Antony, the notorious 4-year-old who has harassed us many a time during our walk up to the school. And today the teacher even confirmed his infamous behavior while the three of us commiserated about her wild boys. It’s always Antony she told us, taking her head into her hands. Although our video class today had gone relatively smoothly, I was pretty sure it had something to do with the fact that Antony had decided to sit this one out and stay in his own classroom to finish coloring. We did however catch him on our way back from Izcuchaca today.

See, Antony guards the dirt road to Almeria better than our stray dogs, and he’s a sucker for las gringuitas. Usually we can outrun him, but today I was holding 8 kilos of duck food, and didn’t feel like making the sprint. I was prime Antony bait. Barely cresting 2-feet, this tiny boy latched onto my leg, muttering something in Spanish and clawing my thigh with his tiny fingernails. If I hadn’t been laughing so hard about the absurdity of it all, I probably would have been able to come up with bajate or something similar. But Antony was not giving up and my amusement only fueled his persistence. Finally I managed a spin move that caught him off-guard and he stumbled on some gravel, tumbling down and looking up at me with a mix of sadness and challenge. He sat there a while, contemplating defeat and deciding he’d save round two for another day, which gave us enough time to make a getaway. Siempre Antony.

Las palabras del dia
Siempre — always, forever
Solo — only
Bajate — get down command for “you” — this one really comes in handy.

October 2, 2013