School begins. This is exactly the adventure we imagined when we set out. Riding our bikes down some dusty streets, off to school in some foreign land, with kids they'd never met, speaking a foreign tongue. Ahhh, yes.
Ellis began his Mexican school career at 18 de Marzo, the public primary school in San Pancho. Uniform required - navy pants, white collared shirt, black shoes. Ellis took to the uni in stride. Shocking for kid who wears a collared shirt only when he must to play golf at a course that requires one. His usual uniform back home - shorts (regardless of month or temperature,) tee-shirt, skate shoes, and a flat-brimmed baseball hat. To say he has extremely specific and casual tastes in clothes is a gross understatement. When viewing Ellis in uniform that frst day with out a fight, his parents rejoiced at their decision to come to Mexico.
In step with the uniform, Ellis has taken to his school with full embrace. He has met friends - Fernando, Carlos, and Jerry are his three best. The first day he came home exhausted from running away from all the girls. School is social and very short - 8a-12:30p.
In classic Mexican tradition of embracing the pomp and circumstance, the first 15 minutes or so is dedicated to marching and playing of athems. It's a weird scene to see these kids in uniform, some in full military dress whites, marching around this concrete square in the middle of the schoolyard of this rural Mexican beach community. Contrived, but it somehow makes sense to everyone around. After starting class on a Tuesday, Ellis had Thursday and Friday off - teacher conferences from what we heard?? Ellis is thriving.
Chaney began her mexican school career at Escuela del Mundo, a private Montessory school in San Pancho. No uniform required - chickens mandatory (see picture.) It is an eclectic mix of kids, most from Mexico, but others from all other parts - US, Canada, etc. Funny reversal of roles here as we imagined Chaney thriving in this artsy environment with many local kids yet a few crutches of familiar looking (and speaking) faces. She did not take to it very well. She felt isolated and withdrawn. Her parents made a snap judgement to pull her from that school after the first week and she now attends school at 18 de Marzo
with her brother. So now in uniform of navy skirt and white collared shirt, she seems much happier and is making friends. No one in her class speaks English - teacher, nor students. She will surely learn Spanish quickly.
The benefit of such a shorth school schedule is being able to focus on other skills they need to develop - like spanish, US curriculum, and of course, surfing. We found a wonderful tutor, Nelly, who is kind, patient, and loves to work with our kids. They alternate seeing her at 1p after school. She is assisting them with their spanish and helping them understand what happened during that school day.
We love riding our bikes to school (and everywhere else) and couldn't be happier in our new enviornment. Kelly and I have started our school (Spanish classes) and remain diligent students of the school of life in San Pancho. Each of us is committed to improving our language schools so our kids can't talk behind our backs in their new found tongues.
Check out some video of the first day here (cut and paste into address bar if link doesn't work) -
The site of advanced Amerindian civilizations, Mexico came under Spanish rule for three centuries before achieving independence early in the 19th century. A devaluation of the peso in late 1994 threw Mexico into economic turmoil, triggering the worst...more info