The rainy season is beginning here in Cartagena. This morning the thunder and lightning started around 1 AM and the pouring rain kept me awake until well after 2. The best part of the rain is that for a few blessed hours it gets to a bearable temperature. The worst part is that the streets become a river and it’s nearly impossible to travel anywhere.
When it rains in the morning, almost none of the students will come to school. It’s understood by everyone that rain is a perfectly valid reason not to attend classes. My first class, a normally well-behaved group of eleventh graders, had dismal attendance today, only 5 out of 40. But that just meant that I got to have a nice conversation with the boys who showed up. My Spanish is getting better everyday and we were able to talk about some local culture and politics. Then instead of going to my second class, where none of the students even bothered going to the correct room, I went with some of my favorite students to the computer lab to play Mario Bros. Not a bad way to spend the last day before our October break.
Rain isn’t the only reason students skip class, they have a seemingly endless list of excuses. The usual sickness and family emergency, but also power outages and water outages. On the second and fourth Friday of every month attendance plummets because motorcycles are banned on those days and many students rely on moto taxis to take them to school. Just another in a long list of ways being a student here is so different than my own experience growing up in the United States.