Before Easter vacation began, our after-school group finished the masks we’d been working on. The project culminated in an afternoon of theater, improvisation, food, and fun. We set up a make-shift stage surrounded by a semi-circle of benches and chairs. The older students donned their masks and stepped onto the podium to recite monologues they had written and revised. We heard from Mateo, the nopal (cactus), about his prickly pastimes, and Jaime, the president, about his burgeoning responsibilities and love for his aunts. Miriam and Reyna performed an improvisational skit as their butterfly characters in which one had lost her wings and the other set out to help her. The younger group was interviewed by Maestra Rachel in front of the audience. We learned all about Carlitos’ FiFi, a colorful young cat, and Rueben’s own version of Spiderman. As a grand finale some of the boys and Ina performed another energetic improvisational piece (see pictures below).
Luckily student turnout that day was better than expected. We had invited all the children’s parents as well, but only a few were able to make it. However, Doña Adelfa, my former host mother, came with fruit salad, and other students brought chips, juice, and sandwiches. Despite previous baking failures at 7,000 feet— I’m moving on to high-altitude recipes—I had managed to make a half-decent pastel de tres leches, my favorite ‘three-milk’ cake with mango and strawberries on top. Everyone enjoyed themselves thoroughly, and we watched a short slideshow afterward of pictures from all the previous months’ classes. We rounded off our garden party with some games in the late-afternoon sun. For me, this day was one of the best in Mexico. Teaching can be frustrating for those who like to see the immediate, physical results of their labor. But once in a while there’s a moment, or afternoon in this case, that makes all of that unseen progress worthwhile.