Letter from Zapallal - November 2012
There was a Summit meeting of leaders of the Latin American and Arabic countries in Lima on 1st and 2nd October and for this all schools were closed for these two days. I’m not sure of the thinking as there were no lined streets nor were there possibilities of thousands of children going to school causing logistical problems. Whatever the reason, I didn’t complain. A couple of days later there was further disruption as a teachers’ strike was declared. At secondary level here it had very little effect as all the pupils and virtually all the teachers were present. It was 100% walk out by the primary teachers. There was no rhyme or reason in the actions as there would be a couple of days of action, then back to school, then another withdrawal. There must have been some form of compromise as all the teachers returned to duty. However the strikers were obliged to make up for days lost so we have Saturday school for these staff. I feel it’s a bit unfair for the secondary pupils as they missed no school and had the absentees covered but they have to come in for a cobbled-together timetable. I must say they have accepted it very well. I don’t think the pupils in the UK would have been so accommodating. Another effect of the Saturday school is that the usual pastoral activities can’t take place and the inter-house sports have had to be put on hold.
8th October is a national holiday and as it was a Monday the community decided to use the long weekend for an outing to Tumbes, a department on the border with Ecuador. It was considerably warmer than here and the pace was certainly more peaceful than in Lima. Tumbes is popular with tourists for its beaches but also for its mangroves. We had two trips through the mangroves. The first was in a launch and it was a bit like the Pan American highway with so many other launches but you could get very close to the birds. In the afternoon we went to another less frequented reserve and were paddled in a canoe. So much more peaceful and easier to see the specialist birds of this area. The next day we went to a dry forest reserve. It was interesting with plenty of walking but hardly any birds. The younger members enjoyed a swim in the river. It certainly was a pleasant break.
On 13th we had the inauguration of the football and volleyball championships of the past pupils. It started off with a short service in commemoration of our dead former pupils. Seventeen were commemorated, which is quite a high number of young people for only twenty one years of the school’s existence. Families of the deceased were invited and they appreciated the warmth with which their sons or daughters were remembered. Several of the promociones had the names of their dead companions on their sports shirts or photos on their banners. The championships will go on till 15th December.
On 21st we celebrated the 21st anniversary of the school. The official date is 18th but it was thought better to celebrate on a Sunday and make it a Family Day. The weather was just right as we have had a mixture of wet and sunny weather. The 5th year and their families provided a wide selection of food which was very much appreciated as the day wore on. A big attraction was bingo. There were four games spread throughout the afternoon and evening with some very good prizes. The last game was for 500 soles which is more than many of the families would earn in a month so expectations were high and as the numbers continued to come out, more and more people crowded up around the stage. Fortunately, for all the games there was only one winner each time. It would have been difficult to divide up a big sack of rice or sugar.
Interspersed with the bingo were dances performed by the four Houses. There had to be participants from all the years from 6th primary to 5th secondary and at least two members of staff. Also they could not have outside dance teachers. The standard was very high despite these restrictions. The 5th year, as befitted la Promoción, performed a dance. Music was provided by our music group made up of past and present pupils and also by a group of young girls from a local orphanage, taught by one of our former pupils. The drummer of this group was very good. Everyone seemed to have enjoyed the day. As this day was considered a school day with staff and teachers present, Monday was a free day, I spent a lot of it sorting out the hundreds of photos from two cameras. I save the photos on an external hard drive but I always have some developed to put in albums which make up part of the library archives. The albums are of interest to the present pupils, especially if they are in them but lots of past pupils come in to look through the photos of their era. Digital photography has certainly made it easier to keep a photographic record of school activities.
The last and biggest procession of Señor de los Milagros took place on 28th. This meant the closing down of large sections of central Lima with the inevitable traffic problems but was accepted with good grace as this is the great religious devotion. We went to La Salle Lima for the anniversary mass of Brother Alberto, seventy two years in Peru. There was not a big congregation because the traffic conditions made it very difficult to get there. There was some concern as on the previous Thursday a demonstration about the new mega wholesale market was hijacked by delicuentes who took advantage of the situation for looting on a big scale and for provoking the police. The result was two deaths, twenty seven wounded and a police horse put down. Order was finally restored but there was still an element of fear and at least two large commercial centres closed early on Saturday afternoon. The violence also disrupted deliveries and prices have gone up locally.
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