Monday, March 24, 2014

Scouts: Siempre Listos!

We took a bit of a leap on Saturday when we went along to our first Scouts meeting here in Arequipa. N's school has a Scout group which is just starting its program for 2014 (the school year started this month). N was very apprehensive about going along because he wasn't sure if he would know anyone and of course there is always quite a bit of trepidation from him regarding activities etc in Spanish. His confidence is growing and he can understand more than he lets on, but still he felt that he needed P and I there for some reassurance and some handy translation.
The first session involved 2 hours of fun games for the kids. N's leader put him in a group with a couple of kids who could speak some English, to help him. N knew one other child from soccer and recognized one or two others from school. That helped to put him at ease. I acted as translator as best I could and between us (plus some explanatory hand signals and demonstrations from the leaders) we managed to get through all the games (even a couple of songs!) and had a good time.
Having been a Scout leader in the US I understand that groups like this need a lot of help from parent volunteers. There seemed to be a distinct lack of parents at this session (most of them appear to take advantage of the free babysitting and just drop the kids off) and I had already made up my mind before we went there to volunteer to help (so I did). I know it will challenge my Spanish skills (but that will be good for me) but it will help N too (when he doesn't understand what's going on, I can hopefully help him out) and really, I need it as much as he does. I've mentioned before that it can be challenging to work here in the particular situation that I am in. I am the only ex-pat wife who is also working a full-time job at the mine, so I am a demographic group of 1 member. I can't go to the lunches, trips to the market, coffee mornings, yoga classes, etc that the other ex-pat ladies do regularly, so I tend to miss out on that social interaction (but I do try to meet friends on the weekend so that I don't completely feel like a hermit or social outcast). Getting involved with Scouts (I hope) will be good for me and will help me to feel more connected with the local community. I don't yet feel attached to Arequipa in an emotional way so maybe this will help. Plus Scouts is just plain fun. And who doesn't like singing Spanish songs? 

Get off the road

Our normal way home from the mine was blocked today by "manifestantes", aka, protesters. About 400 of them had the road blocked so we had to take the alternate way home which adds about 30 minutes to the trip. One hour and 40 minutes after I left work, I arrived home. Anticipating then dealing with road closures (because of industrial action or protests) is one of the "features" of working here. We have contingency plans and the worst that normally happens is a small inconvenience and a son who takes the opportunity to eat pizza while his parents are out of the picture for an extra hour. The protests are usually non-violent and are more of a nuisance than anything. I feel sorry for the crews who had to work later because they had to wait for their relief shift which was late arriving. They will have a very long work day today.