Last Monday at Simon Boliver, we were surprised to learn that, after first period, all classes were cancelled. This was due to some kind of celebration: apparently an anniversary for the school. From 9:00 on, we just hung out on the playground with the kids and watched the festivities which included soccer matches for each grade and a beauty contest. I didn’t have my good camera so I took a break from being the photographer on that day. I enjoyed sitting and chatting with several of the kids, in particular one little girl who is especially chatty. We volunteers ate lunch at the school that day because each class had provided a special meal to be sold as a fundraiser. I had a nice ceviche, a favorite local dish which consists of seafood marinated in citrus juices. The kindergarten teacher insisted on giving us all a free portion of one of my favorites – papas a la huancaina – which is cold potato slices smothered in a delicious cheese sauce, usually garnished with sliced eggs, tomato and/or lettuce.
On Wednesday morning, we arrived at the regular time. We had gotten the impression on Monday that there would be only first period on Wednesday but when we went to the classroom we learned that all classes had been cancelled. Instead, kids were working on drawings and preparing to be part of a parade. It turned out that the parade was in the local plaza and that our school was only one of several participating. The occasion for the parade was “Peru’s Childrens’ Day” – apparently an annual holiday celebrating the children of Peru. As our classes had been cancelled some of the volunteers went back home (40 minutes one way, making these surprise cancellations pretty annoying) but three of us stayed and walked with our schools’ parade contingent to witness the festivities.
It was very hot in the morning sun but the kids and teachers seemed to enjoy it. In the video below, you’ll see by the placards carried, that the themes of the day were both personal (“I love and respect myself”) and patriotic (“Proud to be a Peruvian”). Lots of kids (and some teachers) dressed in traditional attire of people from the mountain and jungle areas of Peru. Some of the jungle costumes reminded me of the Native American costumes we wore as children in the 50s at home. Seeing the costumes made me look forward to seeing these other, very different areas of Peru.
The parade was great fun to watch and we were glad we stayed. There were very few people viewing the parade and those few tended to cluster under whatever shade trees they could find. I tried my best to generate some excitement in the kids by waving and saying hello to them as they passed by.
Video: Children’s Day Parade, El Milagro