Pack Mules

The long walk to school makes our backpacks feel heavier than they are.

Inside, we carry our lunchboxes, books, notebooks, and pencil cases. Usually, we put half my books in a plastic bag that Mom or Dad carry because, they say, it's bad for our young backs to haul something so heavy for too long.

Sometimes, Mom ends up carrying two backpacks and a bag of groceries all the way home while RJE carries nothing.

There is a store nearby that sells dry goods (beans, almonds, peanuts, etc.) in bulk, where we found some blue/green eggs from Araucana chickens. These are chickens that are named after the Araucanian Indians of southern Chile.

The color of the eggs was not new to us because we had bought them once in Virginia, from a farm that raises Araucana chickens in Lancaster County. We think the eggs taste better than the ones at the grocery store.

This is what the eggs we bought look like (though they don't look very green in this photo):

To see really blue Araucana eggs, click here, and to find out more about the chickens, click here.

I have been learning lots of Spanish in school, and now understand and speak much more than a month ago.

But RJE is taking her time. The other day, she got a phone call from one of her classmates. It was a boy who had written down the phone numbers of everyone in the class.

When he called, RJE just held the receiver and said nothing, while the boy asked her a whole bunch of questions, until he gave up and hung up.

We didn't know who had called until yesterday, when Mom took RJE to a birthday party, and the same boy was there. He asked Mom: "Why doesn't RJE say anything? I called and she didn't say a word. Why doesn't she say my name?"

So Mom asked RJE if she knew the boy's name, and RJE said, "Yes. Sebastián."

When the boy heard that, he said, "See! She DOES speak Spanish!"

It is difficult to do math problems with a pen instead of a pencil, but everyone in my class does. It's the opposite of our school in Virginia, where you are NOT allowed to use a pen, or you get sent to the principal's office.

The nice thing about pens is that you don't have to sharpen them, and the writing looks nicer on the page than with pencil. For my birthday, I got one of those fat pens with many colors in them (red, black, brown, pink, blue, green, orange, yellow, and purple). I took it to school and used the red for titles, purple for paragraphs, and blue for bold. In math, though, I still use a pencil (the only one in my class who does) because I find it easier.

A lot of what we write in class is dictated by the teachers. The problem is that some of them dictate really fast, and I can't write all their words down. We hardly ever have to copy from the board. It makes it more difficult for me, but I have finally gotten the hang of it. Now, when a teacher says "en color," I know I don't have to actually write the words "en color" but pick up a color pen and write what the teacher dictates IN color.

In language class, we are reading a book titled "De Victoria Para Alejandro." We are going to have a test on it next Friday, and I haven't read half of it yet because it is too hard for me. Even my friends say that they don't understand many of the words. And no one finds the book interesting. It's about a Roman girl who falls in love with a Greek slave. A very "fome" story, as my friends say. Fome is Chilean slang for boring.

In religion class, we have to make up our own prayer---dedicated to Jesus. This is hard for me because the prayer has to be in Spanish, and it has to be ten lines long, and not copied from anywhere. The teacher said to use our imagination. I never had to write prayers in Virginia, so it won't be easy. At least I think they don't give grades in religion. We just have to do the work.

My birthday was a few days ago, and I was not expecting my classmates to be so enthusiastic about it. When I got to school that day, all the girls in my class gave me hugs and kisses and presents. Then they threw me up in the air---eleven times!

I got a box of chocolate and a little stuffed mouse:

One of the best gifts I got was a framed photo of my friend and me at her "parcela." I also got a great long-distance gift from a friend in Colorado: the first three books of "A Series of Unfortunate Events," by Lemony Snicket. I have already finished the first one, "The Bad Beginning," and it was great.

In the evening on my birthday, we decided not to go out for dinner because I wanted home-made treats, like carrot-ginger soup and samosas (Indian turnovers), which were as delicious as they looked:

Samosas are filled with potatoes, peas, onions and lots of curry:

For dessert, we had a four-layer cake with "manjar," chocolate frosting, coconut...

...and strawberries:

Everything was delicious, and Dad says this website is turning into RatFood instead of RatSoap!


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The RatSoap™ Project is a work in progress, 2006-2007
Copyright © 2006-2007 by Sun on Earth Books




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