The Star Advertiser came out with this lovely article about the poetry workshops at Palolo Elementary school, front page! Thanks Mike Tsai and Pacific Writers Connection for making this happen.
The library at Chacaraseca, Nicaragua passes from quiet to noisy. A band of six little boys has entered to look for books about shark, ballenas, y Cómo Dibujar un Dragón. I do not know these kids, but maybe I will meet them on the road, the soccer field, or at school where a group from Miami is teaching and organizing activities. Chacaraseca is Alex's home place, where he had spend so many years of his life visiting, teaching and holding in his thoughts. I am new here. I like it.
It has been a full couple of weeks. First we were in El Castillo, organizing the first ever Festival de Lectura, Reading Festival. Over 120 kids poured in for an afternoon of crafts, games, poetry, letter-writing and prizes. A group of older kids (my poets from two years ago) facilitated the booths, and Arcelia, my librarian friend and co-organizer, made sure all of the details come together. I will post more photos soon. For the time being, here are some photos from our "Concurso de Gestos" - funny face contest. After running around, getting ready for the Festival, we ran around saying hello/good-bye to old neighbors and friends. So short, the time, they said to me. So short. And tomorrow you go?
But first a good-bye party with my young poets - pan de pizza, bananagrams, and a late night game of parachute volleyball. Some of the kids I taught are in high school now. We are old now, they reminded me. Some of them have celebrated their quinseñeras. Some of their voices have cracked and shifted. Some still write poetry.
And then we were off on an adventure with my friend Daysi. Daysi who had never left El Castillo but one time, to go to the health clinic in Managua. Daysi a dreamer. Daysi, mother of Maciel who we couldn't bring (she is so young) but we wanted to. We stopped in the small city of Boaco, where "the rivers run with cheese and milk falls from the sky (according to Alex's mom). In Boaco, we surprised Daysi's great-grandmother, who didn't know we were coming for a visit. That night, we went to a restaurant called "Bourbon" (Bon Bon, we joked. Bon Bon!) and Alex asked the traveling mariaches to serenade Daysi's Mamita with a song. Something beautiful, she requested. And they sang her a love song.
Then we made our dusty way to Managua, Leon, and finally the ocean - our goal all along. And I laughed and shouted with Daysi as she touched the ocean water for the first time. It never stops moving! she said. It makes me dizzy just to watch it change so much. I don't remember the first time that I saw the ocean. It has always been with me.
I'm just like a little kid! my friend says You must laugh at me, but everything is so new.
Tomorrow morning, por la madrugada, I leave for the beautiful little river town of El Castillo. This is the town where I lived for 8 months during my Fulbright year. While the river is gorgeous and the surrounding jungles are teeming with wildlife and the air is fresh, what really keeps me coming back to El Castillo are the kids. When I was living there, I taught poetry to a group of fourth, fifth and sixth graders. They were so talented, enthusiastic and adorable, that I've committed to coming back every year to do some sort of educational programming with them.
This year, I will help to organize a Children's Literature Festival and Reading Competition (thanks for the grant, FIU!). So, at 5:00 am sharp, Alex and I will hop on a bus to San Carlos (9 hours) and then a boat to El Castillo (3 hours). There is no internet access over there, so I will post again in a week.
I've spent the last month working with groups of talented, energetic and creative students at Palolo Elementary School. It has been a wonderful, wildly creative ride.
MidWeek came to do a story on them. Check it out: