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Monday, 6 July 2009


You get accustomed to your surroundings and the way of life here and this is a good thing I suppose, until you do a summer camp and the other teachers who are new to this game start pointing things out that you now accept as 'normal'. This happened yesterday when we greeted the new pupils at the summer camp being held at a school called 'Piramide', Pyramid, on account of its spectacular architecture, and a Mauritian girl started to ask me if I had seen the state of the floor at the entrance. I hadn't as most floors look like this most of the time. In fact most pavements too where I live. She had had to bring in some rugs from her house where she now lives here in Huesca to cover up the lump of concrete pretending to be a floor. Then she asked if I had seen the ceiling. Most of it wasn't there and it wasn't until Henderson pointed out that he was surprised we had walls that I began to question how native I have become. Outside I noticed that most of the paving stones and other parts of the school looked as though they had been deliberately dug up in a bid to create work. It must be part of Zapatero's Plan E as this town has received most of the financial assistance from the government to what is it? Kick start the economy? Save jobs? Create jobs? I still don't have what I call a pavement on the street where I live. About three inches of concrete where people in wheelchairs and mums with pushchairs hang on the side everytime a car screams by. I remember when I first came here about eight years ago being worried when a kid ran into a glass door and knocked part of it out and when I told the teacher I was assisting he just gave it a quick kick and pushed it back into place for the next accident.

The same was with the way we greeted the parents and pupils. Again, it wasn't till a Welshman asked me why we had to have three different tables to deal with the formalities that I realised this was another example of job creation civil servant style. The parents and their kids were greeted by several monitors and the director of the camp. Then they went to one of the tables, depending if the pupil was a boy or girl. Here they had to hand over their mobiles, any money and to get their name badge. This was explained by me and another teacher on the other desk but sometimes it was explained by about five different people all appearing out of nowhere and putting the badges on the kids or writing their names on the envelopes, or sticking labels on the mobiles, something one person could do easily. A hindrance in other words and and a wonderful example of how not to do things. Then I had to tell them to walk over to another desk where they had to give their medical card and any medicines to another person. It is all reminiscent of any trip to do any paperwork here in Spain where you are sent from one department to another before you finally get the thing you want.

Having said all this, the Spanish are masters at getting it done albeit at the last minute, or the last hour as people say here. I remember a story about the mayoress of Valencia at midnight ordering some workmen to carry on planting some flowers or stick something together and the next day everything looked fine and wonderful. It does leave you worried about the walls though.........................

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