I walk all day. I walk from home to work, about 3/4 of a mile. I walk from class to class, between four buildings. I walk to shop, I walk to pick-up Talea from swim class, and I walk her home. I walk to Juan Diego Rocío Ramirez´Internet Cafe, and sometimes I walk the laundry over, or back, or both. I walk a lot.
My constant companion on these pedestrian journies is my backpack. My back pack puts Dora the Explore´s to shame. Why, it doesn´t just carry a silly singing map and a telescope. The green nylon pack with a leather base is a sturdy vessel for my daily essentials. The front pouch contains a slender roll of toilet paper, a handful of mechanical pencils, a couple of pens, two dry-erase markers, Mom´s leather-bound pocket New Testament that Uncle Bill gave her years ago, a Modelo bottle cap, half a pack of breath mints, my keys, a photo of Ingrid and Talea smiling broadly, and a card with the directions to my apartment.
The main compartment contains a bottle of water, my lesson plan binder, my attendance folder, two text books, a paperback copy of Columbus by Ignacio Solares (not a big Gringo fan), a couple of fly-swatters (Not for swatting flies. Ask one of my students. They can explain), a laminated picture of Bob the Gorilla with an “I voted” sticker on his chest (again, ask a student). Occasionally the main compartment shelters various props we use in class: fake glasses with the nose, mustache, and eyebrows attached, rubber ducks, hard candy, plastic snakes, assorted fake insects of various sizes, and other key tools of instruction. All told, it is about six pounds of educational savvy, technology, and, well, shamelessness.
On weekends my back pack might carry a picnic, or a beverage kit (ask a Fournier brother). In the evernings: the newspaper, Oxxo purchases (usually gatorade and pork rinds, maybe the occasional chocolate bar) or last minute Gigante groceries.
My back pack is at home strung across a shoulder. In fact, when I do leave home with out it a momentary panic strikes as I swat my shoulders feeling for it.
Yes, they say teaching is a solitary pursuit. Well, from where I stand, I´ve got a partner in the classroom, and on the road. My trusty, dusty backpack is my satchel of comradery. My little sack of home.
Hey, ol´Pepino Suave is going to sign off for now. I´m going to grab my bag, say “buenas noches” to Juan Diego Rocío Ramirez, toss him a few pesos on the way out, and shuffle back to the hacienda.
Que duerman con los ángeles,