I’m breaking a big rule of mine with the next two Memory Monday posts, by basically grabbing photos from ✨ Le Googlé ✨. There are two reasons for doing this. One, is that I can not ever go back to take these photos myself, to show you. Ordinarily, I would link back to the sources. But the sources are either Google images on the school’s location or rather shady online places that may have stolen them from elsewhere and I do not feel comfortable linking back to.
If any of the photos on this post belong to you, please let me know if I may use them with credit, or if you want me to take them down, and I will oblige with my deepest apologies.
En español por las dudas: si las fotos que usé en este post te pertenecen, por favor decime si las puedo continuar usando dándote crédito, o si preferís que las quite por completo. Me podés contactar a email@example.com y con mucho placer lo haré .
I only went to this school for a few years, and only one year as a full-time boarder, going home only on the weekends, but sometimes it feels like it was half my childhood.
I’ll get straight to the point: I was exquisitely unhappy here, unimaginably so. I experienced my first intense bout of depression here, I suffered intense bullying here, mainly from the other girls (it was an all-girls Catholic school) but sometimes even from the occasional teacher. I was called the Spanish equivalent of the R word in class by a teacher once (to the mirth of everyone else) as well as had my stuttering mocked constantly, sometimes by the teachers too.
Being a religious school, the bulk of my Catholic indoctrination happened here, and I was attending it when I began to question and dutifully squash down my doubts (such as when a fellow student was failed on an assignment for mentioning evolution, or when we heard from a teacher that some of the nuns had “redirected” a donation of meat by the Rotary Club meant for us, to themselves. The teachers got in trouble for letting this info leak, too).
The photo below shows the capilla (a small church to which we were forced to go every Wednesday):
When it was very cold, I would sometimes sit in a little alcove of sorts next to the church entrance since it was protected from the wind, and away from other people. There I would poorly play my recorder, cold, hungry and out-of-tune, in a display so pathetic and full of self-pity, that in retrospective it is rather comical. In my own ten-year-old mind, however, I felt like I was living in a Charles Dickens novel, probably some side character in David Copperfield.
These days, novels that in any way “romanticize” poverty or childhood suffering are a no-no, particularly when they have the hidden objective of proselytizing, but back then, I devoured those books, books about orphans, books about the virtue of being unable to have nice things and being happy anyway, and –in spite of my nagging doubts– heavily religious books that professed seeking your comfort in Christianity. All were a refuge. They also heavily influenced the victim mentality I held at the time. 🙃 But I digress.
The two photos below were taken with my camera/by me. Obviously the leftmost one was taken by a schoolmate.
The windows on the second photo are one of the two dormitories. You got an old little wooden wardrobe for your things. The beds were not very comfy. The room was quite cold in the winter. The showers were the worst part, often broken (very little water which sometimes was not heated if something broke). Of course, prayers morning and night were mandatory. And no bedtime stories here. Going to the bathroom at night terrified me.
I should mention that this school used to be an orphanage when it was first built. A lot of what was there was from those days, including the dormitories. There was such a dread in the air of those long rooms for me.
I had almost no friends at this place, and missed my mother the entire week with all the painful longing I could express, despite home life being hellish in its own way at the time (this was after my parents separated.) But as mentioned, I found refuge in books and my few toys, and, of course, in drawing.
If you scroll back up to those photos, next to the drinking fountains you can see a big bush. I often hid there. It was a big, red hibiscus shrub. The many turtles the school kept as pets (and which we kids would give our pencils to bite marks into) also sometimes took refuge there.
This is a photo I took while hiding in that bush, literally the first selfie I took in my life:
There were a few steps like the ones you see below. During recess, little girls would often sit on these steps and chat or play payana (or jacks, as you might know it) with pebbles found on the schoolyard.
Some of these kids did have parents with money but, by and large, most did not, and if you had anything and showed it off, you definitely got the evil eye. You were pretty safe playing with pebbles, though.
It’s hard to write any post about my schooldays that isn’t super unhappy. They were bad times. While I never was happy in school, the years I was at this particular school were the worst, because it was also the worst years of my childhood as far as my home life. Leaving that school basically coincided with life getting better in other regards too.
I remember visiting the school the year after I left for good to go to another school in our new area (which was after 6th grade –middle school in Argentina at the time was done in 7th grade). Meaning, the next immediate year.
I saw my teacher from the year before, whom everyone loved. She was very sweet, though I know I was difficult for anyone to deal with. Still… I’ll never forget running up to her to say hi, and she completely pretending not to know me, staring me down with the most unsmiling face, saying “I don’t remember you” months after spending an entire year with me.
I went back to my mom who was waiting a distance away feeling like I’d had a whole bucket of ice water dumped on me, trying so hard not to cry. I was so confused, I remember wondering if I’d imagined having her as my teacher because I couldn’t believe a teacher would do that –but that didn’t explain how cold she had been.
So yeah, school sucked, I hated this place.
Part of the reason I am so indulgent of my inner child today is precisely that. The little girl you see in these photos would have lost her absolute mind at the life I lead now.
Anyway! In the next Memory Monday post I’ll talk about the school’s candy kiosk –and after that I will try my damndest to make a really happy Memory Monday post that is related to actually happy memories. 😅