Ciruelos is undoubtedly my most interesting school. Not my best behaved, but the most interesting.The professor there is Don Carlos Leyton. He is really something else. His father was one of the first students there and later became the professor of the school, then handed down the position to his son. The school itself has been around since I don't know when and it's age is really starting to show. It's a one building school that has been divided into two parts. One half is the classroom and the other half is Don Carlos' office that seconds as a classroom and thirds as the computer lab/tv room. They do have a computer, which is a pretty big step up for them but the tv gets one channel and there is no vcr. There are 4 other buildings on the school grounds. The kitchen, the museum, the bathrooms and another building slightly bigger than a tool shed that I think might be the wood working shop.
The Ciruelos Museum is, by far, the nicest building on the property. It's pretty much a three room house that has been converted. The displays consist of some rather interesting artifacts belonging to the Mapuche culture that once thrived in the region and the Incans as well. Another section is mostly old machines from the turn of the century including a huge old movie projector that still works and a collection of fire arms. Don Carlos has also amounted a very impressive taxidermy collection that I honestly have to say I was a bit concerned about. I appreciate the scientific aspect, but some of the species he has in the collection are very much endangered and a few may even be extinct. I know that Don Carlos is not capable of driving a species to extinction himself but I am afraid that he may impart the human superiority mentality necessary to amount such a collection on to the students. The is a mind set that, I am afraid is far too common here in Chile. Animals just aren't thought of the same way here as they are in the States. Animal protection is a new thing here and I don't think it's caught on in the country yet. The crowning glory of the Museum's collection is a huge, eight foot tall Leather back turtle that according to Don Carlos was caught just off of Punto de Lobos about 5 years ago.
The students have been pretty great so far. Most of them are very interested in learning English and all eight of them really enjoy having a new face around to talk to and play with. As far as school is concerned though, we are all kind of at ground zero. Basics are still a struggle. Numbers, letters, how are you, what's your name, etc. The way it goes now is, I spend 4 hours a day with the older kids and 4 hours with the younger ones, split up by recess, lunch and snack time. This is a really easy schedule for me to work with, but it's not very conducive to them actually learning. They loose interest fast and when they aren't paying attention, there's really no point for me to keep talking.
Last time I went out was a very interesting day. I have learned to be much more laid back about things around here and as such, I wasn't just itching to get them back in the classroom. So, when I saw Don Carlos going into the forest with a couple of students from the other class, I decided that was a good time to call it a day and see what they were up to. What I saw, when I caught up with them, made my heart rate double. One of the older boys, Sergio, 10, was revving up a chainsaw with no gloves, no safety glasses and obviously no real training. About ten feet away from Sergio, two of the girls from the class were crouched at the base of a tree, hacking away with hatchets. Don Carlos meanwhile, was swinging away, Paul Bunyon style, with what looked to me to be a two headed battle ax. After I came out of my state of shock at the situation, I ran over to Sergio who had just gotten the chainsaw running and put my sunglasses on his face. I turned to see how the girls were coming along just in time to see one of them barrel roll out of the way of the falling tree without a second to spare. After four trees had been cut, they were taken away by some guy in a truck and I still don't know what for. It was the most interesting time I have had yet teaching English. That day the students learned the words tree, ax, hatchet, chainsaw, and the two most important words of the day, safety and TIMBER!!!