We were told before we left that Puerto Ricans like to celebrate; it’s true. Last Tuesday, in authentic Puerto Rican and Monastic fashion, we celebrated the birthdays of three people: S. María, S. Esther, and myself. It made sense to celebrate the Sisters’ birthdays together, since they were born in September, the current month. However, my actual birthday is in July, which occurred about three months ago. During that celebration though, I felt like it was actually my birthday. It was adorable – everyone gave me a gift, we sang a LOT, we ate cake, we blew out candles, I received flowers, and the room was decorated with balloons and streamers for a birthday party. I barely stopped laughing to eat my marshmallow cake, because again, Sarah and I had no idea what was going on, we were singing a song that I had taught the Sisters the previous weekend about a cow, and I had just received more gifts than I ever needed on my “birthday”. What a riot.
The Sisters pray, eat, sleep (in that order), in the Monastery, but most of them also spend a significant amount of time working at the school. This means not all celebrating happens in the Monastery, plenty of celebrating is done at school as well. On Friday, that’s exactly what we did at school: Celebrate. What were we celebrating exactly? Being back. Yes, simply being back at school was the theme of this celebration. It was a gigantic fiesta complete with a D.J, dance floor (and ledge), unlimited drinks (juice), cupcakes, and any clothes you wanted to wear that day! It was crazy!! So crazy that the Kindergarteners had to “party” in their own room for fear that they would be trampled by the older kids.
Walking through the hall of the party:
Another unofficial celebration that occurred this week was that of The Coquí, the tiny frog mascot of Puerto Rico that serenades the islanders with its high-pitched melody from dusk until dawn. The festivities started about 9:30p.m. I was in the kitchen eating mango yogurt. Sarah was in our room talking with someone on the phone. The nuns were upstairs sleeping peacefully. At about 9:31 a coquí went jumping across the kitchen floor, obviously lost and confused and looking for a way out of the Monastery – I could relate. Before he could disappear under the refrigerator or into a crack, I scooped him into my almost-empty yogurt container and made my way to the door to grant the little guy his freedom. As I opened the door, the Monastery basically exploded. There were bright flashing lights and blaring sirens. I think I stood there stunned for a few seconds, threw the lucky coquí into the garden, slammed the door shut, and ran to my room. If Sarah’s phone call wasn’t already interrupted by the obnoxiously loud alarms, it was now. We burst into uncontrollable laughter, something we both typically do when we don’t know how else to react. However, the alarm was not going to stop, so I decided I better do something. I started climbing the stairs and found most of the nuns in their pajamas at the top. I apologized for opening the door and setting off the alarm. Apparently they had activated it earlier than 10pm that night (and didn’t tell us!). After telling the security company that, “no, they shouldn’t send the police” (it was just our volunteer again…), everyone settled down and went back to their rooms. Hopefully that coquí appreciates its freedom, and as a Puerto Rican symbol, it better be representing its country well and celebrating its return to the garden. A unique celebration, or as Sarah put it, “pro-biotic plunge”.
Finally, I have been feeling nostalgic recently for the celebration Sunday Football. Almost every Sunday during football season I could be found watching the game with family and friends. It has been different this year watching the game from my bed at the Monastery instead of waking up, putting on my jersey, and heading over to SJU for some food and drinks. Different, but not bad. I still watched the game, but this year I corrected papers and ate salmon during half time. Although celebrations may change, I am glad that they don’t go away – there is always something to celebrate.
A note about school -
Classes are still going well. The eighth graders are still eighth graders – capable but lazy, super self-conscious, and even when they look like they might be listening, there is a very good chance that they are not. I am trying really hard to motivate and challenge them. I am still working on implementing a recycling program at the school, and they have helped me create posters to advertise the importance of doing so. The next step is to get actual recycling bins and the recycling company to make it a routine to stop by.
Thanks for readin'!