Ups and Downs

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 0 comments
I have been looking forward to fallas for quite some time.  Now, that we no longer live within the city limits and can avoid the constant noise of all night verbenas and mascletás and despertás, fallas is actually fun.  I enjoy riding in the chiquí-tren of the Escoleta, dressing Eric up like a little fallero, and participating in the outdoor meals and activities of the barrio where Mauri's parents live.

I am still looking forward to all of these things, but it just seems a bit bittersweet this year.  I feel like all of the good times are coming to an end.  As I have written earlier, Eric, who turns 3 this year, is supposed to begin school this September.  That isn't the only reason, though.  This year the Ayuntamiento (town hall) of Denia has decided that Eric's nursery school (partially public) is not profitable to them, and they prefer to do what they can to make it impossible for anybody to run it.  So, all of my friends who have run it and worked there for years now, will be forced to abandon the school that we have all grown to love.
Years ago, soon after the school opened, my ties to the Escoleta began when my friends called upon me to help out with the fiesta of Halloween.  Being American, I was automatically deemed an "expert" on the subject, and had fun decorating cookies and a jack-o-lantern for the school.  Each year I would go and participate in the fiesta in one way or another, and they would also invite me to other events and fiestas like fallas.  So, even before I ever started to work there, or even thought about having a baby that would go there, I had fun occasionally visiting and helping out however I could.
Halloween cookies that I made for the Escoleta one year 
A few years later, I worked a few hours daily at the school, helping out during peak hours at the most difficult times of the year.  One year I even managed to balance those hours with my hours in the UNED with the Calvin program.  I got to know all of the girls that worked there, and loved being welcomed into their little family.  They always teased me about when I would have a baby of my own, and I would always joke about how I was busy enough taking care of our dogs, or furry babies.
Later, though, we decided that it was time to take the step and have a baby, if we were ever going to do so, and decided to just let happen whatever would happen, which, of course, ended up with our being blessed with little Eric.
Once Eric began to walk, I experienced the Escoleta in yet another way: as a parent.  Having worked with the girls in the past, and seeing how they work, I was able to bring my son there with complete confidence.  I still participate in the fiestas whenever I can, as you have seen in my blog.  Now, though, I am realizing that those fun times are coming to an end.  Not only is the ayuntamiento basically forcing them out, they are also months and months behind on their payments.
Eric with the mermaid I painted in the background.  :)
So, in the best case scenario, my Eric will have his school with all of the teachers and friends he has finally gotten to know and love, for a few more months; until June.  In the worst case scenario, the school will close in two weeks if the town hall refuses to pay part of what they owe to the girls, to keep them from going further and further into debt.
As you may also know, I am a Libertarian at heart.  So, I shouldn't be upset when a partially public nursery school is closed.  To be fair, I don't even know of any partially public nursery schools like the Escoleta in the U.S., so I shouldn't expect the government to keep it going, right?  In a Libertarian world, of course, it wouldn't have been open in the first place, and it wouldn't be a problem.  The problem I have with the situation, though, comes from the environment we live in as a result of being in a more socialized country.
Eric wanted pizza, so mommy made homemade pizza for him.
Once the government decides to take things over, and, in turn, charges you oppressive taxes on everything, making you dependent upon them, they have brought upon themselves the responsibility of managing all of the things they have promised to manage.  I personally don't think that the government should have complete control of the health system, for example, like they do here, and I could go into a lot of my reasoning for that some other day.  (Anybody who has read my other blog about when Mauri was hospitalized for a month after his burn accident, will know about my experiences with horrible treatment in an abandoned, falling apart burn unit of a public hospital here.) Once they take on that responsibility, though, they should follow through on what they have promised.  They shouldn't be able to charge people for a promised service, and then just decide that they no longer have the money to follow through with that service.  Unfortunately, that is what ultimately seems to always happen, and that is my main problem with having the government control so many aspects of life in the first place.
Once they opened the doors of the Escoleta, they took on the responsibility of keeping it up, and paying the people who are working there.  As can be expected of government, though, it was never destined to last.  Our taxes are constantly raised, but our services are constantly minimized.
On a happier note, I got our falla ninot finished.  It is a Lightning McQueen (was there a doubt?!?!) that I plan on using later as a pull string piñata for Eric's Cars themed birthday party, assuming that Eric still loves Cars by then.  It had been years since I had made anything paper mache, so it was tricky at first, but I think it turned out pretty well in the end.
I actually played with a few different techniques, to try to them out, and had a lot of fun in the process.  Parts of the process, though, were also a bit frustrating.  I used boxes and wads of paper and tape for the main structure.  Then I did a normal flour and water paper mache strip process over top using old recycled magazines.  I didn't like the texture of the flour paste nor did I like the thickness of the magazine paper, so I tried another layer of newspaper strips with a heated cornstarch paste.  It was a lot smoother that way. Afterwards, I decided that a few places needed to be built up a bit more, so I built it up with a paper mache pulp made of white glue and toilet paper.  It worked well for building up the structure to exactly how I wanted it to be.  (I think I would be more careful about accurately forming the shape of the structure next time.)
To smooth it completely, after some internet research, I decided to try making a homemade gesso using white glue and wall putty paste.  My "gesso" was too thick, though, and ended up cracking.  So, I had to scrape it off and start again on the last weekend.  I ended up covering it all with one last layer of paper strips, to cover up the badly scraped off areas, and finished it off with a thinner layer of homemade gesso.  This time it worked.  I was able to sand it and paint it, just in time for the plantá at school!!    
Eric likes his "McQueen."  He even tried helping me to paint it.  Of course, I fixed those areas afterwards.  :)  

We've also been keeping busy with other things lately.  Last weekend we went to the taller fallero at the new nursery school, El Portet.  "Tita" and "Yaya" made buñuelos, which are typicial at this time of year.  A lot of the kids worked on making a falla ninot from newpaper and tape, and later painted it.  Eric, though, showed no interest in it and preferred to run around and play in the patio.  He refused to try the buñuelos, which he loved so much last year!!
Taller Fallero at El Portet

On Monday, he also went to Sheyla's 3rd birthday party.  Sheyla is the daughter of one of the girls who worked at the Escoleta, who is, this year, working at El Portet.  
Sheyla opens her presents.
At first Eric threw a fit because I took his shoes off so that he could play with the kids in the play area.  He threw a tantrum on the floor and kept running to try to put his shoes back on.  Once some of his friends from school showed up, and he forgot about his shoes, he eventually started to play with the other kids.  
All of the kids at the table...except for- notice who is playing in the balls in the background!!
By the time he got into playing, though, it was time for the kids to sit at a table and eat some sandwiches and snacks.  Eric didn't want to stop playing, and ended up being the only kid who wasn't at the table.  Of course, he started to get hungry and thirsty, and finally made his way to the table just as the other kids got back to playing.  
After eating a little, and drinking some water, he got back to playing, and I went to sit with the adults at another table.  We frustratedly talked about the whole situation of the Escoleta until it was time for the kids to go back to their table for the birthday cake.  
Eric, of course, didn't want to stop playing, and it wasn't until I had a piece of chocolate cake in my hand that I was finally able to coax him out of the play area.  The kids had fun eating cake and feeding some of it to Ana, who also ended up coming.   
If it hadn't been for María ("Tata") coming, though, and fishing him out of the balls that night to go home, I would probably still be there now!!  He definitely had a blast at the party, and Mauri and I may just have to go back to the place to let him play some day soon.  It turns out that you can go there and pay 1 euro to let the kids play for as long as they like while you have something to drink there.  The only thing that worries me is never being able to leave!


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