I'd better get this down before I forget! On Friday, the taxi driver insisted that I be ready to go at 6:15 a.m. Not the taxi driver who had toilet paper next to the crucifix on his rearview mirror, but a different one:
This taxi driver, Pedro, was early enough to take me to a convenience store so I could get a coffee to start my day. Here, 24-hour stores aren't open in the way they are at home. They're closed but have an opening in the gate where you can ask the cashier for what you want.
Anyway, I arrived at Escuela Alexander Bain with time to spare. I met Celia, the teacher who had set up the performances, and Martine, the English coordinator before I began with the fifth graders. Then I had the fourth graders, then a break before the third graders came in. The kids understood really well and asked excellent questions. During the third-grade session, some of the grandmothers came to listen. They come to the school every Friday to read to the kids. Celia wasn't able to stay for the performances, but Martine did. In between the sessions, we had a great wide ranging conversation (with a little in French) about families, school, Montreal, stories, Pinocchio, and more.
In the break (hot dogs with chiles, and tea), she told me that the cleaners at the school set up an altar (ofrenda) for Day of the Dead. It used to be done by the art teacher, but the cleaners asked if they could do it. Here are a few pictures of the ofrenda in progress:
Pedro came back at the end of the morning and drove me to the apartment of Victor Arjona and Angel del Pilar, two Mexican storytellers I'd never met. I was early, so Angel took me for a walk in the neighborhood while Victor cooked. When we got back, Alberto and Inno were there, along with Victor's brother. The apartment smelled fabulous: Victor is an incredible chef. We sat down to a leisurely and delicious meal. Toasted red onions with a breadcrumb and cheese crust, gnocchi in gorgonzola sauce, apple strudel, three kinds of wine, Mexican coffee and limoncello. And of course, as happens with storytellers, great conversation. It's always a pleasure to meet storytellers around the world. Victor and Angel were some of the most welcoming and hospitable I've met.
It was a full and satisfying day. We waddled to the corner to get a cab back to the hotel. I don't know about Alberto and Inno, but I fell into bed early and slept well.