Tuesday, October 25, 2005

where i´ve been and where i´m going

no worries....this entry won´t be as long as the previous one. first of all, we had a GREAT time in suchitoto. lots of drinking beer and mojitos (made by the cuban husband of the salvadoran woman who owned our kick ass hostel). we also took a boat ride across lake suchitlan and saw a million (well, not really a million - but it seemed like it) different types of birds on these little islands in the middle of the lake. i could only imagine having my site location somewhere near this area. some may be wondering why i´m not posting any pictures. well, with all that crazy rain, i think the humidity got to my digital camera because the screen is all f*"#ed up and i can´t take any pictures with it. i did buy this cheapo automatic camera when i was in san salvador so i could still at least take pictures when i was in chalatenango and suchitoto. but i have to figure out when and where i´m going to get them developed because, well, let´s just say el salvador is not known for it´s fine processing of film. my mom is sending me a new digital camera that i´m going to have to keep in a box or something when i´m not using it. i guess i have about 6 months to figure it out since it looks like we´re on the brink of the dry season here.

anyway, suchitoto is kind of like the santa fe of el salvador. tons of art galleries and artisan shops, lots of nature stuff to do. we only had a day and a half, but it was a nice break from the training routine and spanish lessons. plus, one of the guys in our group plays the guitar and sings amazingly, so we spent a lot of saturday night sitting around our hostel lobby, drinking beer and just generally having a good time.

last night two things happened. my family celebrated sindy´s second birthday (i know i told you all that she was 2 before, but unlike in the states where people give the age of their children in months, and EXACTLY in months, here they give their age by what´s closest. so with sindy, she was almost 2 so her mom told me she was 2). so the birthday celebration was really fun. megan came over and so did anna and her family. my mom invited melissa too, but melissa never participates in anything (i´ll give you the lowdown and the reputation she has built for herself in our community later). ana´s sister jaqueline and her daughter fiorela, viviana (ana´s grandmother), ovidio and mama rosa, and some other cousins were all there. actually, it was mama rosa´s birthday on sunday - so it was a double celebration, but the fiesta was clearly all about sindy. we had a piñata - which was supposed to be tweety bird, but it looked like some kind of alien/gang member child of tweety bird because it had these weird green shoes and a red bandana. we had so much fun though, and sindy was super excited to eat tons of candy and cake.

the second thing that happened - which actually happened before the fiesta - was that megan, anna and i were given a lecture by megan´s host dad - don mario. i´ve mentioned before that we have spanish classes at megan´s house, right? well, megan´s family has hosted like 8 other peace corps volunteers - so they know the routine and what-not. apparently, though, mario thinks we´re speaking way too much english when we have breaks or are just hanging out at their house. megan mentioned that he´s given her some small little lectures before, especially on those days where we were trapped in molineros during the crazy rains. i guess mario had been super pissed and really quiet the past couple of days and megan thought it might have something to do with our speaking english too much. melissa - who lives next door with mario´s sister and her husband - attributed mario´s bad mood to the fact that the family pretty much lost all of their bean crops during the massive rains. so last night, we were working on a community contact project with maps with megan´s host mom and mario was in and out, but not really talking to us. then he gave us this big detailed map of molineros and told us to look at that. so we did, and we eventually finished talking with megan´s mom and were ready to go. melissa left and megan, anna and i were talking about them coming over later for the fiesta. mario comes up and keeps waving this other map in front of us, telling us that we really should be using this map for our project (which wasn´t what the point of the project was...it was to get individuals to draw maps of what the community looks like to THEM). we were all just agreeing with him and kind of just telling him that it was a really great map when he starts launching into this whole thing about how we need to practice more spanish. he´s telling us how we´re supposed to have ¨confianza¨ with him - which means ¨trust.¨ confianza is a major thing here, and we were saying how we did, but trying to explain to him that at times it´s difficult to speak spanish all the time because we aren´t that great at it and feel stupid trying to have discussions in spanish when we can just have them in english. mario just kept going on and on about how when we get to our sites, we´re not going to have confianza with anyone and if we can´t speak spanish, we´re all pretty much screwed. and that we´re supposed to ask him questions and he won´t be upset if we don´t know words and whatever. but i don´t think he realizes how much we have learned already and we still have a month, and when we´re sitting around talking about where we´re going for travel weekend or who is annoying us in the training center, we feel like idiots speaking in spanish - because we all speak english. not to mention the fact that a five minute conversation would probably end up being 20 minutes if we talked in spanish. ugh. anyway, we smoothed it over with him and i think things are all good, but sheesh, what an experience.

so tomorrow i´m going to la union. it´s another department of el salvador and is in the northeast part of the country, near the honduras border. we have field based training. there are 4 of us going to each different site and we´ll be working with a volunteer for 3 days. i think we have to each spend our nights though separately with different families, and then re-convene in the morning for our work with the volunteer. anna and i are in the same group, so that´s good. i think, though, that we have a spanish teacher and another member of the training staff that goes with us as well. if i´m not mistaken, carlos is going with us....he´s a friggin´ riot! he´s in charge of the agro-forestry/environmental ed program and is just soooo funny. he speaks this really suave kind of spanish and i can´t keep a straight face whenever he´s around. anyway - i´m sure it will be fun and we´ll learn a lot....not to mention the fact that we´ll get to see yet another awesome area of the country.

next week is the big ¨dia de los muertos¨ - which is actually 2 days. i´m super excited for that. then on saturday, some of us are going to an archaeological site which is being organized by the peace corps training office. then on sunday i believe a group of us is hiking chinchontepec - san vicente´s massive volcano. i´m sure we´re all going to be a little bit challenged, if only for the fact that we´ve all been eating foods that can´t possibly be good for our hearts these past four weeks.

ok, well that´s about it for now. i´m getting some pictures of suchitoto from anna´s digital camera, so i´ll post them whenever i get a chance. and hopefully my new camera will arrive shortly.


me, anna and megan (molineros, molineros, molineros!!!)

the gang that went to suchitoto

brendan and i outside the restaurant in suchitoto