In spite of their father's incarceration (or perhaps because they don't have to worry anymore about what he is up to) the children seem to be thriving. Denis and Astrid are facing the challenge of their new international school with smiles. They are starting to understand and even speak English. The school asked me to come in for a meeting and confirmed what I had long suspected about Denis, that he may have some learning disabilities. One of the delights about Antigua is how easy it is to find a solution to most anything. Two days later I met a American woman with a Masters' degree in Special Education. She has already started to work with Denis twice a week. Denis is just a delightful boy who will be 15 by the time you read this. He comes every weekend and washes cars in the neighbor making the staggering amount of $13.00 most weekends which gives him some pocket change and the chance to feel that he is helping his mother by contributing. I have talked to him about saving money. He wants to, one day, buy a moto (which I hope is far off). He knows that he needs to pay me $10.00 for his next jug of car wash liquid.
I told Denis that I had had a meeting with some of his teachers and that they were concerned that he was getting frustrated at school. He responded, "I can't write." The teachers told me that Denis was doing very well socially as a result of the fact that he is the best soccer player in the school and there is a lot of competition for Denis's talents. They also told me that Astrid is not doing well socially, doesn't yet have a friend. The school is small and the majority of the girls in her class have formed one of those dreadful cliques. I have suspected that Astrid engages in reverse discrimination against gringos. I decided to talk to her to make certain that she wasn't rejecting classmates because they were "gringos." Ironically, the day of that conversation Denis and Astrid came into the house and told me "Oscar sends his greetings." Somehow they had gotten a ride with none other than Dr. Oscar whose two daughters attend the same school. I took the opportunity to point out to the aspiring doctor or veterinarian, Astrid, that Oscar was not a gringo but a Guatemalan and yes, he is a doctor, drives a car and sends his kids to a good school. We had a conversation about the differences between gringos and Guatemalans and I hope that the boundaries got blurred. Denis said that gringos were more intelligent and I jumped all over him and told him that that was not true. I told him that what was true was that Guatemala had a horrible education system and many people did not get a decent education as a result. I pointed out that the main difference between gringos and Guatemalans was one of opportunity and that, by attending the new school they were being given the same opportunity if not a better one than most kids in the US.