Tuesday, October 11, 2005

no hay pan!!

so, apparently i´m a wierdo because i´m not a huge fan of the tortillas. i like them, but i love pan frances. basically when you eat breakfast, lunch or dinner here, you get either tortillas or pan frances with your meal. i´m not down with the tortillas, but i eat them whenever ana gives them to me. this morning she was fixing my lunch (all the host families send packed lunches with the volunteers to take into san vicente the days we are there.....which is actually a funny thing to witness at lunchtime. it´s a virtual ¨who has what¨ in the kitchen at 11:30. half of us don´t actually know what we are looking at in our little tupperware containers, and the other half knows exactly what it is, e.g. half a fish - including the head). anyway, this morning ana confessed to me ¨no hay pan¨ (there is no pan) and looked disappointed that she had to give me two tortillas instead. i assured her that tortillas are good - it´s just hard to eat them for every meal of the day, seven days a week. the specialty food here and one that most of us absolutely adore is the pupusa. they fixed us pupusas at the training center the first night we were here and damn, i was hooked that very night. it´s basically two tortillas (but they don´t taste the same as the regular tortillas) with cheese, or cheese and beans, in the middle. it´s hard to explain because it sounds like what we call quesadillas, but it´s nothing like that at all. the cheese is different here, which makes it taste way different. plus, it´s just a whole hell of a lot better than a quesadilla. every canton has a pupuseria somewhere, which is basically just a little shelter made out of tree branches and limbs where a group of women set up shop on saturday and sunday nights. they pretty much make pupusas all night long. and i´m lucky because the pupuseria in my canton is right next to my house. woo hoo!!! (we found out recently that the word pupusa has another quite derogatory meaning - you figure it out - so lately we´ve tried to refrain from saying ¨me gusta pupusas¨ too much....) .

yesterday we went out and did a tree identification training session at the abandoned agricultural school. there are so many awesome trees here. the problem is, lots of people use them for fuel wood, and the fuel wood consumption is going faster than the tree production. this is one of the big parts of our program....we´ll all probably end up starting a tree nursery somewhere. which will be so cool.

thursday we leave for immersion weekend - which is going to be a little scary. they are sending us out, alone, to different communities around the country to stay with totally different host families so we can work out integrating our spanish and learning about other areas of the country. this is for two nights. then on saturday night we are going to stay with another peace corps volunteer who is already 0n his or her own and we´ll work with them for a day. it´s super exciting, but also really overwhelming. especially since my spanish is only so-so. but it is getting better, and i can´t imagine it´s going to hurt to try and get by. i´m sure it´ll only help.

ok, so i said before that i´d talk about the whole ¨peace corps is a dating service¨ thing. so here it is. we just found out that one of the other volunteers in our group who is in another town has “hooked up” with her host brother who is around the same age as her. we are all totally shocked because come on, it’s been three weeks! which brings me to a wierd subject. like the second day we were in el salvador, we had to eat dinner at the peace corps training center. there were two three-year volunteers there hanging out with us and telling us what our programs are going to be like. one of them is in charge of training the youth development group and the other is in charge of training my group – the agro-forestry/environmental education group. anyway – bri, the one in charge of the youth development group started talking to a group of us about how every volunteer ends up with a salvadoran boyfriend or girlfriend. we were all totally shocked and bri continued to tell us a ton of stories about hooking up with them and all that. by the end of the night my brain was hurting because she had told us all of this stuff that we had never even thought about before. i mean, when i was getting ready to leave for the peace corps i was thinking about adjusting to a different kind of life and implementing our program and all of that. i was worried about the mental aspect of the whole thing and being away from home for two plus years. anna and i were saying how there was no way we were even prepared for the stuff brie was telling us. brie was telling us that out of her group, five volunteers have gotten married, two are engaged, and another two are co-habitating – all with salvadorans. then our trainer/volunteer said she has a salvadoran boyfriend too. when anna and i were telling ana about all this, she said that one of the volunteers that stayed with mario’s family (megan’s host family) in molineros, ended up marrying a cousin of ana’s husband. we´ve yet to find out if mark (one of the other trainers in san Vicente) has a salvadoran girlfriend. i can’t see why he wouldn’t – apparently it’s the thing to do.

that´s it for now. hopefully i´ll survive immersion weekend!