Boarding School


While growing up in Guatemala, I went to boarding school for two years. I absolutely loved the adventure of it. There were large oak trees to climb. The branches were so perfect for climbing, being thick, sturdy, and close enough together to move from one branch to another with plenty of options as to which path to take up. We named each of the trees with different letters of the alphabet, and my best friend would pass a note to me, saying, “Meet me at the V tree at 3:00.” We loved climbing those trees! Sometimes I would climb so high that by the time I got to the top, I would hang on for dear life, dizzy with sweaty palms and a racing heart. I calmed myself by looking at branches at eye level. Then I would lower myself down little by little. What an adrenaline rush!

A fun playground was always accessible during our free time. The swings, teeter-totters, and monkey bars were made out of red chunky wood. The chains on the swings were thick and were so high up that I felt like I was flying like a bird, rushing through the air, rushing upward into the blue sky. The feeling of freedom.

There was even a tree house in the woods. The property was fenced, so we were safe. We would play for hours in that tree house, bringing snacks or different toys depending on what we wanted to play. We could make up any adventure. Sometimes the boys would bully us, and we would yell at them, “We got here first!”

We had hikes on Saturdays, sometimes on foot, and sometimes on bicycles. I loved looking at the tadpoles in the water. I would collect tree frogs and put them in my suitcase. They were so slippery, green, and smooth. After getting about twenty or so, I looked at them jumping around like popcorn in that small suitcase. I realized they had no water or food, so I took the whole suitcase outside and dumped them out. Sometimes the science teacher wanted one or two to feed the snake in the classroom. I would watch the garter snake swallow the sweet little frog in one gulp, the lump moving slowly down the length of the snake.

That reminds me of the fact that the teachers made us eat everything on our plate, no matter what. I still remember to this day, sitting in the dark abandoned dining hall, holding my nose, and forcing myself to swallow cold, mushy, stringy, disgusting squash. I missed part of study hall that night because it took me so long.

On Sundays we had a barbecued lunch, consisting either of barbecued chicken or hamburgers. We might have had steak a few times, and also hot dogs. We got to eat some chips with our meal outside. Our lunch was followed by “bomberos,” which were like popsicles without a stick, that you push up from a long, thin bag. We ate them under the beautiful oak trees.

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4 Responses to “Boarding School”

  1. gibsonchristie says:

    I still can’t resist climbing a good tree. There is a great one down here by our creek and I climbed it just last month!
    Ohhh, I loved those tree frogs! They were so much fun.
    Did that snake have a name? I don’t remember it if it did.
    I was just telling a patient yesterday about “powdered milk” at boarding school. I got so used to it I eventually couldn’t stand regular milk.
    Those were awesome days!

  2. Susan says:

    I loved those boarding school days! I have no idea what the snake’s name was. I forgot about the powdered milk — yuck!

    Writing about a memory has triggered a lot of other memories. It has been fun to write about what it was like growing up.

  3. Carolyn says:

    I remember those tree frogs, we used to get the tadpoles and put them in the plastic ice-cream gallons and watch them turn into frogs.
    I loved the L tree most!!!
    I remember getting a worm in my spinach one night and having to eat the spinach, minus the worm, but it sat on the edge of my plate while I had to eat the rest of the spinach anyway. That is what you get for unrolling cooked spinach leaves, instead of just eating it!!!
    Do you remember the liver?? That was my nightmare. Ketchup was a life-saver.

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