Friday, 25 August 2017

I feel fantastic.

Every year the school adopts a ternero (calf) for the primary school to look after.  This little fellow arrived this week and runs the risk of being loved to death.

It's been a bit of a mini holiday for us this week.  Monday was a public holiday and Friday is a pupil free day.  We think this three on - three off lifestyle has a lot going for it.  

When the students are asked How are you in English, they reply with a stock standard, Fine and you? (with an upward intonation on you to show it’s a genuine question).  I’ve been teaching my class different responses from Very well thank you to Absolutely fantastic.  This week I wanted to teach On top of the world to my grade 3 class.  I drew a picture of the world.

What’s this?
            The moon.  Luna.
No.  It’s Earth, the world.
            It’s the moon.
No, it’s the world.  Here’s Australia and here’s South America.
            It’s the moon.  Es luna.  It’s a planet. 
Yes.  It’s our planet, Earth, the world.  (I drew a picture of a man on top of the world.)
            It’s dios.  Dios.  God.  It’s God.
No.  It’s just a man on top of the world.  He’s happy, he’s on top of the world.
            What country is he on?
It doesn’t matter which country.  The important thing is that he is happy and feels on top of the world.
            I don’t understand.
This is the world and this man is on top of it.
Let’s just stick with “Fine, and you?”

Monday, 21 August 2017

Fiesta del Chorizo Seco

Comodoro Py is 45km north-east from us and every year holds the Dried Chorizo Festival.  It’s a mixture of traditional dance demonstrations, horse riding competitions, dried chorizo competition and market stalls.  We were lucky to be given a lift with Jamie and Lucy as there’s no public transport out to Comodoro Py.

The horse riding competition is a hundred metre track where riders weave in and out of markers twice then sprint to the finish line.  Penalties are given if you knock one of the barrels over.  The starting line is a furrow gouged in the ground and the more the horses compete the more excited the become and the harder it is to have both horses stand close to the starting line.  Through a series of heats, the race is eventually down to the final two.  One of the horses was having troubles lining up for the race and two handlers tried to corral it into position using their bodies.  Then they grabbed the horse’s ear to try and control it and finally they applied a twitch to the horse’s upper lip.  A twitch looks like a nut cracker.  This was uncomfortable for us to watch so we can't imagine how the horse felt.  Our friends told us that it’s more conducive to walk both horses around until they are in a similar position for starting the race.

The town centre was closed to traffic and a giant asado was set up to cook endless amounts of chorri pan, beef and pork.  There was one line to pay for the meal and a second line to pick up the food with tickets from the first line.  Talluah and I used our separate DNA to be in two places at once.  I lined up to pay and she lined up to collect the meal.  Once I paid I gave her the tickets for the food.  While she was waiting in line she explained to some people where you had to go to pay and how we were doing it.  They liked the idea and followed our method.

As we were leaving a procession of vintage tractors was preparing to join a parade from a farm shed by driving about 500 metres along a road that had cars parked bumper to bumper on either side.  The final tractor to leave was a combine harvester with a blade on the front that, to the untrained eye, looked too wide for the street.  However, the desire to join in the parade caused some spatial reasoning blindness.  At the very first car the tractor driver realised that he wasn’t going to fit.  I think the driver deduced that the fault wasn’t that his blade was too wide but the cars were parked to close.  A group of men tried to manhandle the cars out of the way.  One down, 264 more to go until the showgrounds.  We left before we saw what they planned to do with the truck parked on the street.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Over the fence is six and out.

The primary school children do seven hours of English a week.  One of the hours is usually spent playing a game of some sort.  The idea is that they have to listen to instructions in English.  This week I tried to teach my grade 6 and 3 class how to play French cricket.  For Australians, the link between normal cricket and French cricket is quite easy.  We understand how the bat is normally held, the purpose of wickets and how important it is to protect them, that underarm bowling is only acceptable while playing French cricket and finally that by saying telephone you can throw the ball to someone closer to the batsman.  

The nearest cricket bat is some thousand miles away so we had to make do with a little baseball bat.  The children here are used to playing hockey and chasing a ball with murderous intent. Those that were fielding had their hockey instincts activated and dived on the ball like rabid meerkats.  The boys chased the ball all over the field, pushing and shoving.  There were tears and sit-down protests by those who didn’t have a turn at batting.  The concept of hitting catches was lost in translation.  I have a feeling that 2017 won’t be remembered as the year that French cricket became a sporting phenomenon in 9 de Julio.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Hidden stories

Friday morning brought a heavy amount of rain.  Indiana was able to go to school but Truce and Depp’s ride comes 25 minutes later and in that time some of the streets were blocked and at about 9:30 we decided that Depp and Truce wouldn’t be going to school.  Although it’s nice to have a day off, it’s always nicer to have the sleep in that goes with it.

9 de Julio is not a tourist town and sometimes it looks like it is having its own siesta.  But a slightly more ponderous look reveals that there are untold stories.  On a Sunday morning, trailers are having the day off and presumably their owners are too.  Trailers pay an important role here.  Furniture vendors attach home made trailers onto the back of motor bikes and roam the streets selling furniture door to door.  

Spring is only a month away and the local council has been going around trimming all the trees ready for new growth.  All the offcuts are piled into specially shaped trailers perfect for tree branches.

The country is preparing for an election and you don’t need to be able to read Spanish to know what all the posters of smiling faces that have popped up around town are for.  This weekend isn’t the actual elections.   It’s like a quarterfinal.  This weekend, people vote for who they’re going to vote for in the real election.

We’ve noticed cars with plastic bottles on the roof.  For a while we thought it was a sign that a mobile car washer had just washed the car.  But we realised that the majority of cars with bottles on top were in certain areas.  The bottle means that the car is for sale.  It makes perfect sense.  Bottles are readily available and they stand out more than a sign in the window.  When learning a language, there is so much more than just putting verbs and nouns in the right place.  There are many non-verbal cues that have to be learnt too.