Saturday, 1 June 2013


They call it 'patio' here, the event and the place. Well, they did until I arrived. Now it's 'playtime' and 'playground' they're having to learn. Who said English was easy?
So what do they do? Well, lots of things that I saw back home: footballs, dolls, cuddly toys, skipping, collecting beetles- Collecting beetles?

Manuel pelts towards me as I come out to do duty.
'Look thees, look thees!' he's yelling.
'Very nice,' I say, 'beetles.'
'Escarabajos,' he corrects. (Es-car-a-bah-hos.) And so I get a nice little Spanish lesson from a 6-year-old in return for the English vocab. I wonder about the Spanish word. Es-cara-bajo. Cara, you might know, means 'face', while bajo means 'down'; so does escarabajo mean face down?
Well, no. It doesn't. My word detective skills are not up to scratch and I'm reliably informed that escarabajo comes from the Latin, scarabaeus, from where we also get the word scarab. It's quite true when they say, 'You learn something new every day'. And that includes teachers.
It reminds me of a day when someone caught a grasshopper, a really big one. It wasn't as big as this one, I took this photo in Guatamala.

Anyway, back in Spain, I tell the children it is a grasshopper. They look at me, distinctly unimpressed. Then Marta proudly translates into Spanish. 'Saltamontes!' Hmmm, I'm not surprised, given the size of it. Can you translate Saltamontes into English? I'll give you a clue, it isn't grasshopper!
Back to the beetles. I'm not a beetle expert, so I'm not sure what type they are, Stag? So if you know, please send me an e-mail, and I'll include it in the blog.
'You want hims walking on you arm?' Manuel asks suddenly. We are now surrounded by a sizeable crowd of juniors, all jostling for position to see Mr. Dean have four (possibly man-eating) beetles crawling up his arm. I'm not a great fan of beetles, so usually I'd decline. But the expectant faces are all staring at me with eager brown eyes and missing teeth. 
'OK,' I say and (luckily, only) one beetle is transferred onto my wrist. It tickles as it scrambles up towards my elbow on the inside of my forearm.
The children smile all the more, except for Manuel, who seems slightly disappointed that I am (apparently) so brave. He spots Mrs. D on the far side of the playground, retrieves my beetle and heads off to see if he can scare the life out of her. (Yes, he can.) The screaming crowd follows him. They haven't had so much entertainment at playtime for years.
What's that I hear? The bell? Well, enjoy your patio- I mean, playtime.

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