Another Beautiful Beja Day

Another beautiful Beja day – wonderfully cool and pleasant morning and evening, blisteringly hot and sunny mid-day. The locals have assured us that “isto nao e comum.” But probably we won’t have a chance to find out.

Joanne and I are quite warmly greeted by our students at Escola Bento de Jesus Carala as they
wait for class. They like us to take their picture which we are, of course, happy to do. In class we have been more integrated this week helping the students one on one form questions on a reading passage, then answer them. While I don’t have much experience with kids this age (15-19) they seem to be very sweet (not a term I think they would like.)

Unfortunately these kids had trouble in other schools and are here in a “last chance” situation.
They must pass each term in each subject for three years. They can repeat (which some have done several times) but there are limits. Apparently individual tutoring is not available.
Sadly they do not seem to understand how paying attention in school will matter to their future. Like kids they’ll worry about the future manana.

Joanne and I have also had sessions with Katarina, the 10 year-old granddaughter of Barbara, owner of Residencial Bejense. The highlight of yesterday was her arrival for “class” with not one, not two, but three friends: Margarita, Maryana, and Diana. Between bouts of giggles we had the girls tell us a bit about their families, worked with flash cards, and listened and helped as they took turns reading. I was astonished when I asked if they would like to sing a song for us. They all jumped up, whispered excitedly for a few moments, lined up and animatedly sang a song in excellent English, something about red, yellow, green: stop, wait, go, and traveling in a car, a plane, a train, a jeep, a helicopter, and a motor scooter. Then they all patiently allowed Phyllis to direct us in a photo shoot. For me, it was truly delightful, as I don’t interact with kids a lot and didn’t know it could be so much fun.

The team continues to be very well taken care of. Meals are more than adequate, generally very tasty, with a mix of familiar favorites and traditional Portuguese. Fish and pork, including the infamous ‘pig on a stick,’ are wonderful. Hotel staff continues to keep our “home: clean and comfortable.

Several of us have tried valiantly to help the local economy with limited success. Fortunately we
were able to procure a few actual “made in Portugal” souvenirs in Evora and Monseraz.

Beja feels like a really small town. We see our students everywhere and some of the same locals everyday at the Capitol. The men having coffee each morning next door are familiar and then there is the ubiguitaus carbs. We are becoming part of the fabric of the community just when it is almost time for us to leave.

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