The day started out with a relatively normal tercero class, during which the students lovingly made fun of me only 63% of the time.
Then, immediately following the first period of the day, we discovered that the entire school was going to take a walk down to the house of the recently departed grandmother of Diego Ricardo, one of our fellow teachers. Unsure of what exactly was going on, we paraded down the hill with a hundred and thirty students, all of whom were just a bit too irreverent for the occasion. All snacking as well, of course.
Students from primero, segundo, tercero, and cuarto all ceremoniously presented their offerings—over a rented stereo system—to various members of the family, all of whom were seated at a table in the middle of the street. The teachers then took a seat. And waited for 15 minutes. And then, suddenly, we arose and paraded back up the hill to the town center.
Upon arriving at the center, we didn’t discover what none of us knew we were looking for: a protest having to do with a new road. Not finding the protest in question, we snacked for 15 more minutes. We then paraded up further toward the graveyard, and toward the site where, apparently, the authorities needed to widen the road. Unfortunately, this particular chunk of the road has, impeding its breadth, the corner of a house. The owner of the house, needless to say, desired to keep their house’s quadrilateral characteristics, and was vociferously proclaiming same when we arrived at the top of the hill.
The crowd teemed: women, children, and men wielding pikes and sledgehammers blocked the entire road, forcing all manner of automobiles to rethink their route to the town center. After 15 more minutes of “protesting,” we decided it was time to resume classes. So the students paraded back down the hill, snacking, and headed back to school.
An hour later, in the Dirección (the “office”), one of the other teachers looked at me and exclaimed, “They broke it!” So that’s what the sledgehammers were for. Now I suppose the work on the new, improved, and publicly-desired road can continue, much to the elation of the people, and to the chagrin of the house owners. The question is, What’s going to happen when they want to widen the part of the road in the middle of the town that’s flanked on both sides by stores? Raze half of the buildings? Eh, there are too many tiendas, anyway.
Just another day in San Mateo, where eminent domain—or mob?—rules.