El Prefecto

I inadvertantly commited a cultural blunder today. It was during my seventh group, late in the afternoon. About 42 kids piled into the room as I arrived. Then the 43rd student entered, only to find there were no desks (butacas) left. Thinking on my feet (Literally. I rarely sit down during class), I decided to give the kid my chair. He got this ¨Oh, boy” look in his eyes and sits down. I figured I easily managed a distraction and moved on with the lesson. Within minutes an older gentlemen peeks into the room, asks permission to speak, and then tells the boy to get out of my chair and go get a “butaca”. The old man begs my pardon and leaves. I didn´t think a lot about it until I when to the office to punch out at the end of the day (yea, teachers punch in and out of school here). The school secretary pulled me aside and, very politely but firmly, said, “Tim (sounds like “Teem”), the chair is for you, not for the students. It looks bad. If there aren´t enough desks send for the “Prefecto” (the older man in charge of keeping an eye on things) , or send the boy to get his own.” Sometimes repect for the teacher trumps good management.
By the way, I like the concept of “Prefectos”. I don´t have it completly figured out yet, but it is on my lengthy list of Things I Need To Figure Out That Aren´t Life Threatening But Sure Are Curious. I do know that there is at least one Prefecto per grade level and they basically hover around the classrooms to discharge various duties: tell students to tuck in their uniforms, tell girls to take off that makeup, give bathroom passes, assist lost foreign teachers, assist foreign teachers who don´t understand how things work here, direct traffic, substitute teach, and I assume other duties I will find out about once I get to that point on my list. I would be surprised if the perfectos don´t have their own union. They seem to wield a lot of clout around here. I´m going to befriend one.
Another item on my TINTFOTALTBSAC list is streets in Durango. It really isn´t a bad place to get around if your family has been here for generations. The street names change every few blocks. Its a good way to get a lot of obscure historical figures recognized. The streets on the West side of town pay homage to Durango´s mining past; all the streets are named after metals. You can go down Copper, turn left on Nickel, and follow it to Silver. Also, one main street is named 20th of November. The other is named 5th of Febuary. Last Sunday I asked someone how to get to 5th of November. He laughed and told me to wait a couple months. Mexican humor…
O.K., food. My exchange partner, Alfonsina lives on the outskirts of Durango. While she is teaching my students this fall back in Grand Rapids, she has put her wonderful children in charge of El Gringo. Yesterday her daughter and boyfriend took me back to the family abode for La Comida (mid-day meal). Man, what fun I had. First, Alfonsina´s daughter and her daughter´s boyfriend are a fun young couple. Why, I´m a fun old man. We had a good time of it. Alfonsina´s daughter served us tacos (what was Taco Bell thinking?), rice, beets, pineapple, fresh guayaba juice, a bottle of cream, and hotsauce for everything I´ve listed here, except the juice (maybe including the juice, I was distracted by the great grub). They taught me to put the hotsauce on pineapple, too. The cream is put on top of the tacos, too. I don´t know why I even bothered to bring my cholesterol medecine.

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5 thoughts on “El Prefecto

  1. Uncle Tim!I got your e-mail and have been reading the blog ever since. I love hearing from you! Keep us all updated…your run-ins with Mexican culture and experiments with new foods are much more interesting than whatever we have going on back here…Miss you!~ Holly ~

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