During one of our first grocery store expeditions, we wandered into the paper/office supply aisle looking for some index cards to make Spanish vocabulary flashcards. There we encountered frantic mothers clenching long school supply lists and receiving assistance by a small fleet of grocery store helpers. At this moment a premonition of our own upcoming back-to-school trials settled in.
After a week, we showed up again at the school; Sylvia greeted us and asked if we were all set. She was dismayed to learn that nothing had been resolved and worked out a way for us to pay tuition in cash at the school the following day. When we arrived to pay, they were still stymied and we waited 40 minutes until they could find us in their system and process our payment. From there we picked up our books in the school gymnasium and received the dreaded school supply list.
Each boy's school supply list was 3 pages long! The first page listed all the materials we had already picked up, but the next pages contained a daunting list of 131 items. We were uncertain about how to translate the phrase "se entregarán en el aula." At first we thought this meant that we had overlooked these things in the school hallways and were supposed to carry them to the classrooms. When we checked back with the ever patient Sylvia, who now greets us smiling with "Oh, it's the Family Smith (again)," she told us that these items were already in the classroom for children's use. What a relief! This news shrank our "To Purchase" list to a mere 66 items! We asked Rossana, a fellow parent, for tips on stores that carried these items and received some suggestions. We discovered that store locator features on Peruvian websites do NOT accurately report the nearest location of particular stores. We also discovered that some operations have slick websites that make them appear like shopping meccas, but are actually modest, disorderly "Mom & Pop" shops with narrow aisles and shelves strewn with cluttered and dusty merchandise.
During that week we spent one Saturday walking 2.6 miles to Centro Comercial Caminos de Inca to a uniform store. Our walk took us past a long stretch of toxic smelling autobody shops where banged up cars were being repainted on the street outside cevicherias, stray dogs languished in the sun, and small children splashed in portable pools on the sidewalk. The boys were seemingly seduced by the novelty of wearing uniforms and happily complied with the fashion parade task of trying on: winter pants, cardigans, vests, shirts, PE warm up suits, PE t-shirts, PE shorts, etc. We walked out loaded down with two bulging bags of clothes.