Today we had a school trip to Guateque – a waterpark 2 hours away in a rattling chicken bus which did not slow down at the speed bumps. 4 kids vomited on the way, fortunately out the windows. I overcame my fear of heights and went on all the slides, encouraged by 5 year olds bombing in front of me, fearless.
The health and safety was about a tenth of what it would be in the UK – just one guard occasionally blowing a whistle when more than 4 kids lunged head first together down the steepest water chute.
For lunch we had a piece of fried chicken, a sachet of tomato ketchup, 2 pasty tortillas, a packet of crisps and an artificial orange juice.
All the teachers were dotted around the edges of the pools, occasionally looking up to see that the 50 kids aged 3-15 were OK. And they were fine. Seeing that I didn’t have to be on hyper-guard, I took the opportunity to finish ‘Like water for chocolate’ which I had read in the past but now made more sense being in a culture close to Mexico.
And this bit is a good bit:
‘each of us is born with a box of matches inside us but we can’t strike them all by ourselves. Each person has to discover what will set off those explosions in order to live, since the combustion that occurs when one of them is ignited is what nourishes the soul.’
As we were leaving the park, I stopped at the monkey cage where 2 black monkeys swung. One came towards me and we got eye contact. He reached out his long hairy arm and black fingers through the bars for my hand and we stood there for a while, holding hands. I felt a little match strike inside me.