Actually, I was just invited to play football with Patricio’s schoolmates in the big break.
Here on the country side, there are more children at different ages than chairs in the classrooms. Therefore, there are morning- and afternoon groups, to the latter, Patricio belongs.
The boys are running and shouting after every ball and are sceptical and undecided whether they should also accommodate me in one of their two teams. Usually I can speak for myself, but in Paraguay where, especially in rural areas, people speak only little Spanish. The mother tongue of the farmers here is Guaraní, a venerable language of the indigenous peoples covering most parts of Paraguay and its bordering areas, almost remained from external influences. Spanish, as in our schools in Germany English, is taught in classes and often enough in disregard of the parents and their children. Of course you get on with Spanish in Asuncion, the capital. Here in the country; however, it looks quite different. In Paraguay, over the half of the rural population only would speak Guaraní. Patricio, the Austrian, the blond, blue-eyed, ten year-old, of slighter built than many others of his age, runs up and down the field, gesticulating, discussing in Guaraní, until I was eventually allowed to play. I hold back because I do not want to hinder the game flow on the one hand, and on the other, because the pitch is sloping on the left and also because I often lose orientation. My little counterparts and my team-mates do not wear separable, but colourful shirts and blue pants. The Parents obviously know how to deal with their farm kids. Patricio is often to my side, I would receive instructions what to do, how to play. It does not help me though. I try my best to survive in a sheer river of small players. Like Patricio’s infallible different appearance that highlights him from the others, there is also a hierarchy among the students. He may therefore often stand alone, but regains attention by the role of the jester and commitment in school events. When we enter one of the two class rooms I gain a picture of the teaching style of the school, after Patricio insisted that his teacher would allow me to join the class. I sit close to a corner heading towards the fixed black board. Of course, I create curiosity of the students and the teacher. He asks me why I am in Paraguay, about my experience with locals. Politely, I answer, amused about the attempts of integration by the middle aged quite loose and laid-back acting official. Whenever I speak, silence fills the room compared as if the teacher has the word. So it takes a bit until he gets his gang under control. It seems to me as if he himself is not sure of how one could teach those guys something outside of daily knowledge requirements, given they have such a rough life ahead. Milk is available every day in the early afternoon; each one must bring his cup. Some children come from far away and eat lunch at school as well. Plates and cutlery must be brought from home.
When it comes to practicing a dance Patricio fits himself into the class hierarchy a little better. Now it is time to have fun and to communicate, now that the girl’s class came in. The dance depicts a scene from the life of the farmers in reversed roles. The guys hold the broom, swinging to the music consisting of traditional folk guitar sounds. Something similar as in the journey from Jerusalem, one boy always remains on the track, because as soon as the music stops, all have to search for new female partners. Another teacher is now also present and praises or improves the broom swinging moves of the boys. She is clearly serious about this. It is important to her that all students do their best, so that their parents will get a good demonstration at the weekend. Patricio established himself, with another boy, as the constant, but sporting loser and joker. After half an hour the two teachers seem to be satisfied and the girls leave the room. After that, everybody, including the teacher is waiting for the ring to bell. Workdays, this is a sign that school is out, today, on Friday, this means that the entire class along with the teacher and the girls class will play some extra football. A shimmering shine of perplexity on the face of the teacher, he is just as enthusiastic about the ball game and already mentally playing football just as the boys, but twenty minutes are left to teach. Something…! He looks fugitively on his cell phone and decides that these last minutes will be used to tell jokes. There are extra votes for me as he proposes to recite jokes in Spanish. Nevertheless, I truly cannot understand much. I laugh when the kids laugh, partly because other people laughing just bring one to laugh as well, partly because I really understood something and found it funny.
Then the ring. Everybody has already packed secretly. Again, they are ready for football. Patricio plays better now on his role as defender and saves up most of his comments about my often miserable forays into the opposition’s half. The teacher and me hold back a bit and let happen the quite chaotic shooting and stumbling. The girls that were distributed equally to the teams are playing better than thought. I would have never imagined that to be honest, but here the children have certainly not as many free time activities as other kids in the city. We walk home once the game and thus the school is off. Passing the mom-and-pop store, the only “Dispensa” in the village. Past the boys and girls who are a bit older. Each of them has a moped, the pride of the young people. Patricio will also get one in the near future, since he knows the traffic rules already given he is practicing with the “Trimoto” which the family ones.