Back to School – or Not
March. Another new calendar page. So soon.
Next week is back-to-school week. Today I saw a painter high on scaffolding sprucing up a local school. The supermarket aisles are brimming with notebooks, folders, boxes of colored pencils, scissors, glue and pencil cases, as teachers, families and children ready themselves for that momentous first day – except for the students at a rural school in Mapuche country. They’ll have to attend classes elsewhere. Violent pro-Mapuche activists burned down their school a few days ago.
This is a city of cars. Last week I said it is a city of walls and fences, but with vacationers pouring back into town, the summer calm of city streets has vanished. March means the return of traffic congestion, people in a hurry to get somewhere, believing a car is the only way to get there. Living in a central area, I am fortunate to get where I want mostly by walking or riding the metro.
Our neighborhood buzzes with the motors of gardeners cutting neglected summer grass. The neighbors over our back wall are back. I hear their two small girls playing and jumping on their trampoline. After months of silence, the bell at my boys’ old school has begun ringing throughout the day, marking the changing of classes, evoking the mornings when my boys headed off wearing their grey trousers, blue blazers and heavy backpacks.
Though the cars monopolize, this is a city of many things: eight green monk parrots bathing in a park sprinkler; computer print-outs posted on trees proclaiming “perro perdidio”, lost dog, found dog, dog walkers, English classes; and always, always stray dogs with sad eyes.