The First and Last Day of School


You would think that at nearly 60 years old that the first day of school wouldn’t give me a case of the nerves. You would be wrong. I barely slept the night before. The school is an 11 minute walk from my condo, something that my teacher Patricia, who lives in a town north of Cuenca, is envious of.

I walked down early intending to stop on the way to get some breakfast. I had been told that there was a coffee shop downstairs from the school. When I arrived, I really didn’t have the time to eat breakfast and get to the school  ten minutes early, like the administrator had asked me to. With barely a moment’s thought, I headed into the coffee shop. As usual, I wished the lady behind the counter good morning and immediately apologized for my poor spanish.

With greetings exchanged I forgot how to ask for something for breakfast, but asked for bread for breakfast. She smiled and said, “Pan, queso, y jamon?” as she pantomimed layering a sandwich. I told her that a ham and cheese sandwich would be perfect. When she asked me “algo de beber”, I drew a total blank, though I had known that phrase last week. When she started listing out, “Cafe, agua, …” I remembered and said, “Si , me gusta un cafe con leche.”

The sandwich didn’t seem like much when she brought it to my table. It looked very thin, as if it had one thin slice of cheese and an equally think slice of ham. When I bit into it, I was amazed. It had been pressed, so that the buttered bread was paper thin. There was a thin slice of ham, but since it was serrano style it packed a lot of flavor. The cheese was a thick slice of excellent mozzarella. The coffee was out of this world. Cost of my breakfast was $2.75. I wish I could have lingered and taken my time eating, but it was the the first day of school.

I was only a few minutes late, but was still the last to arrive. At least everyone was still milling around and had not gone to the classroom yet. I was introduced to my classmates first. Robbie and Becky are married, and were back in Ecuador after having visited here years ago. Lisa Uno is a Chinese American who has lived overseas with her father. Lisa Dos is from Belgium, and is an intern at the school. We were chatting and getting to know each other when we are introduced to our teacher, Patricia.

Part of the class was a normal spanish lesson. All the while Patricia was teaching us, she was asking us questions in spanish, which we did our best to answer in spanish. When it came time for us to ask questions, again the exchange was in spanish. By the time the four hours had passed, I was mentally excused.

I guess that means that my brain was busy rewiring for those four hours. I am looking forward to tomorrow.

Up Date:

Though I loved my teacher and the way she taught, I found that particular school was not for me. All my life I have had a problem, where if there are two people speaking at once, I can not hear either one of them. The three classrooms had glass paned doors between the. The class to one side was very quite, but on the other side, it seemed that all the students must have been hard of hearing, because their voices were so loud and constant that I wasn’t hearing what the teacher was saying. I tried to move to the other side of the room, but that was no help. It just didn’t make any sense to keep paying for lessons that I couldn’t hear. I had thought that try to tough it out into those students moved on. my teacher was doing her best to stand next to me when she talked, but on my third day of class we had a group activity with the other two classes.

The other two classes were far more advanced than my class. It was no fun sitting there for an hour listening to the advanced students chattering away, only catching an occasional word. The final straw for me was wen one of the more advanced students started laughing loudly every time one of my class (okay, it was me) made a mistake. I had enough hazing at the academy, I am not about to put up hazing from that bunch. It wasn’t the first time that they had been rude to me.

On the first day I was there, I had walked into the school’s coffee area and asked if a pot that was sitting there was the coffee. Two of that bunch told me that it was, pushed in front of me, took the last too cups of coffee and walked off without making more. That was when my headache started. I thought it was caused by my struggle to keep my temper. It wasn’t until last night that I realized that my persistent headache was caused by the altitude.

My headache is to the point that being in class, even I could hear, would not do me any good. I might try another school if when I feel better. I might take one on one lessons. That way if other students are too loud, I am sure the teacher and I could just go for a walk and talk.

Categories: Equador

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