La tape Escuelape- the road to school.
Oga Ita, Alto Verá, Itapua
For the last twenty years, I’ve had to go to school. I woke up, showered, dressed, ate breakfast, packed my bag, and went to school every week day for the last twenty years. In kindergarten and first grade, I was subsequently dropped off by my parents. In second grade, I walked with our neighbor Colin, meandering behind houses, through fields, teasing a Golden retriever on the other side of a chain link fence. In third and fourth and fifth and sixth grades, I rode along with my mother, the school librarian, listening to Celine Dion and the Dixie Chicks singing from cassette tapes in the glove box. In middle school I rode the bus, standing on a cold, snowy street corner every morning, dressed in less-than-appropriate winter clothing, as every rebellious Alaskan thirteen-year-old feels necessary. In high school I drove, sharing a little black Toyota Matrix with my sister, which survived quite a few “incidents”. And in college, I walked. Across red paver stones, under big maples and ponderosa pines, accompanied by the bells of Saint Aloysius reminding me that I was probably a few minutes behind. But then things changed. Red pavers turned to red dirt. Ponderosas to mangoes and maples to Lapachos. The ringing of bells turned to Cumbia on the radios and parakeet songs from above and I was walking to a small Paraguayan training center instead of the human ecology lab in Hughes Hall. That was pre-service training, and I thought it was the most interesting walk to school I had ever experienced, but yesterday, yesterday was the best.
A walk to school will never be the same if it does not allow me to see every member of my community along the way, to say Hola/Mba’eichapa/Buen Día and ask about their morning. It does not compare if I cannot cross ravines or wade through two different streams as I do on my way to the local high school. I gladly accept cows for company on my walk to school and the intoxicating smells of orange flowers and a hyacinth-colored vine creeping along tree trunks. A walk to school is not complete if I cannot cut through a field, a grazing pasture, a sheep corral, duck through two fences, and come out at Ñeko’s house to stop and terere (and change into less sweaty clothing). For the next five weeks, I have the pleasure to walk this route, to experience the best walk to school I’ve ever had, before I teach English and Trash Management to local Colegio students. Never has a walk to school been such an integral part of my school day, but I love every step, every splash, every trip, and every pause. For an hour I walk, going up- and downhill, almost completely alone with my thoughts, which have included a disastrous mess of topics. It is a decent time for reflection before I jump straight into the lions den of angsty high school students.
Never has there been such a walk to school.