I have...what?! 1972, El Puerto de Santa Maria

It's 1972 and I'm teaching in a bilingual school in El Puerto de Santa Maria, way down in the Cadiz Province.  The deal  isn't so bad. I get free accommodation and free food, not to mention some cash paid under the table. If Franco only knew!

Knowing only two words in Spanish, "Adios, amigo", I live in a dream-like state of total surrealism. I haven't a clue how to pronounce my students' names, let alone carry out a simple conversation. When one little boy announces, "Tengo caca" I simply stare beyond him with a big smile, hoping I at least look semi-intelligent.  Doesn't 'tengo' mean, 'I have'?  He was probably telling me he had a new toy, wasn't he?

The smell of sunflower seeds and cologne clings to the air. The children's hair lays plastered in a brilliant shine and their gold chains and medallions gleam in the Andalucian sun streaming through the classroom window.  I suddenly wonder if they are safe, if anyone might yank the gold chains from their necks and run off with them. My arms reach out to protect them, and they each hug me tightly staring up at me with huge big eyes.

All, that is, except the little boy who had  announced earlier, "Tengo caca." He's still standing at his desk, looking very mournful. I wonder what could possibly be wrong with him?!


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