Saturday, January 10, 2004

Singing Priests at Samantha's

So last night we went out to dinner with K---, a friend we hadn't seen in a while. Evelin picked the place, Samantha's, which she's been to a few times during lunch with workmates, but neither K--- nor I had ever been there before. It was really good. It's a small Salvadoran place on the edge of Takoma Park, far from the food-oriented corners of the metro area. We ended up having to park a ways away (around the corner and down the hill at a park) because the tiny parking lot was quite full.

Actually the entire restaurant was packed. I'd joked when Evelin and I walked back up past the parking lot that it would be empty because a party of 35 had just left ... it turned out the party of 35 was still there, strumming guitars and singing loudly. Eventually, "Happy Birthday" was sung, so we figured that was the occasion, and we think it was a group of seminarians because the entire party (25 to 30 or so) consisted of all young men, one older priest and a middle-aged woman, perhaps the mother of one of the young men or maybe a nun whose order didn't require her to wear a habit. They were singing a lot of songs, some of which were familiar, like "Bamboleo," and others that sounded familiar but I could only pick out a few words here and there.

K--- had a shrimp and scallops dish with vegetables and french fries, while Evelin had the trucha frita a la salvadoreña. Both liked the dishes a lot. I had spinach enchiladas, which were really fresh tasting and nice. (There are more vegetarian options here than a lot of Latin places, but the really interesting stuff all involved meat of one sort or another.)

K--- just switched careers to become an elementary school teacher in the District, and it was really interesting to hear about the challenges and rewards she's getting in the job. She started off teaching fourth grade, but now she's teaching first grade and is loving it. One of the cool stories she shared involved one student who finally "got" reading. The girl knew her letters, but every afternoon during DEAR (drop everything and read) time, she would say, "I don't know how to read." Well, K--- focused on one story and kept steering the girl to it, and it finally started to make sense to her. Evelin and I were surprised to hear that only four kids in the class can't read. Both of us remember learning to read in first grade, but now it's apparently taught in kindergarten.

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