As a staff, we had been anticipating “our day” for awhile, though most of the actual preparation didn’t happen until the very last minute. We all contributed money for dinner and a party, and bought commerative yellow polo shirts. I helped some of the other women bake on Monday night, and a we had bought a goat. Unfortunately, it escaped from its tether and ran away. Some teachers spent much of the day Monday searching for it, in vain, so they ended up slaughtering a sheep instead.
On the morning of the 12th, there was the requisite march to the center of town, and the laying of a wreath of flowers on some altar, which happens for every national holiday. Then everyone marched back to the school for “cultural activities,” which were really a couple of plays by students, one in which they imitated some of the more distinctive personalities among the teachers. (I was spared.)
The female teachers (and some helpful wives of male teachers) spent the rest of the day cooking an enormous amount of food, which took forever even with all of our charcoal stoves going at once. None of the men offered to help, of course, though some of them did make themselves useful by procuring beer and fuel for the generator—the latter being immediately necessary as the festivities didn’t get under way until after nine pm when the power had shut off. Chairs and tables were borrowed from school and set up in Nelta’s and my front yard, with a light bulb hung above us on a spring and big speakers blasting from the porch. Ours is the last house in the compound, with generous space in front and back, so it’s ideal for a party. After everyone had eaten, we cleared the tables to make way for the dancing. The party literally went on all night: I watched the sun rise from my porch, night turning into day, and all the student empregados emerging to begin the morning chores.