Thursday, November 17, 2005

and the site location is..........

well, i´ll get to that later. but let me tell you dudes, i got so hooked up re: my site. but first, i want to talk about travel weekend and what a great time we all had. on friday (the 11th) our spanish teacher, esmerelda, took sarah (she lives in las canas – which is close to molineros), megan, anna and i to san sebastian to look at hamacas (hammocks). there is where the best hamacas in el salvador are made – and it’s only about an hour from molineros. we traveled by bus, and we got off the bus and picked up nathan in his town on the way. the most hysterical thing happened though when we picked up nathan. we were waiting for the bus to take us to san sebastian and it came and it was absolutely full of people packed in like sardines. so we were like – forget it. then this van pulls up and it turns out to be a friend of esmerelda’s. so esmerelda asks him if he can give us a ride into san sebastian because he has this van and we have like 6 people. so he said it was cool, so we are walking over to the van and this old man wearing a cowboy hat and carrying a machete starts walking over there with us. we all get in the van and so does this dude, and we’re all kind of like "huh?" then he says something about being our "compañero," and we’re all dying laughing – because he is just making himself at home in the van. the friend of esmerelda’s is laughing too, but it was too awkward to say something to the guy. so we just head for san sebastian with this random guy in the van with us. then when we got there and all got out of the van, the dude gets out and is like "adios!" like we were all friends with him or something. talk about getting hooked up.....

anyway, the hamacas in san sebastian were awesome, but i didn’t get one because anna and i were taking the bus from san sebastian to san salvador to meet up with the ag4 volunteers that were going with us to the beach. the ag4 group had been on a field trip on the other side of san salvador. so we boarded a bus for san salvador around 11:00 a.m. and arrived at the estancia (the hotel where almost all peace corps volunteers stay in san’s actually pretty much a hostel) around noon. we were so geeked about being there so early that we went to see a movie at metrocentro. the movie wasn’t that great – flight plan – but it was in english and i love me some peter skaarsgard. i ended up not seeing the end because i had to go to banco cuscatlan before it closed to get some money for the weekend. and standing in the line at the bank anywhere in el salvador means you might as well bring a picnic lunch....because there are always a ton of people getting their remesas. it’s ridiculous. anyway – after the movie anna and i went back to the estancia and met up with the other volunteers who had decided to make dinner at the hostel. so anna and i went back up to metrocentro and got stuff to make nachos. and they were some damn fine nachos, let me tell you. i miss mexican food the most here. i totally thought i’d not want much mexican food before leaving the states because i was going to a spanish-speaking country. i couldn’t have been more wrong. the food here is nothing like mexican food!!! in any event, there were some other volunteers there from other programs and they asked us to go out to this gringo bar with them later that night. that was really cool and it was a good start to the weekend.

the next a.m., anna and i walked to meet her friend diana who happened to be in san salvador that weekend. she apparently works in nicaragua and knows some people in san salvador, so it worked out that we could meet up with her and she could hang out with us at the beach on saturday. so we all packed up and got on a bus that we thought was taking us in the right direction. well, it turned out it wasn’t and when we got off the bus we were clueless as to what bus to get on. we asked for directions and some dude told us to get on this one mini-bus, so we did and when we got on it turned out we were still not on the right one. but it totally worked out because the guys (the driver and the cobredor) found out where were trying to go and they offered to drive us straight to where we were going for $2.50 a piece. plus, they agreed to pick us up the next day. so they basically got the rest of the other passengers that weren’t with us off the bus, and we rode in luxury all the way down to el tunco. once there, we found hotel roca sunzal and convinced the owner to let us stay in hammocks next to the beach for $5.00 that night. so we set up shop and headed for the ocean......which was raging like a crazy beast. the waves along the coast in el salvador are MEAN!! we basically just tried to break free of the waves for about an hour and we were super exhausted. none of us got any surfing done, because on sunday the waves were even more gigantic. it was crazy. oh, and on saturday night we built a bonfire and reminisced about bonfires back in the states. it was so great being there. i was surprised at how comfy the hamaca was to sleep in. i’m definitely going the hamaca route when i get to my site. beds here are kind of expensive, and i know i’ll never have enough dinero in the beginning to get one..... on sunday we spent most of the day in the water again and then headed for home. i was really super tired and sunburned, but had a fantastic time.

so, here’s the important information...... tuesday was the day we found out where our sites were. seriously, they couldn’t have made this whole thing more nervewracking. on days we are in the training center we have a schedule in 2 hour increments of things we’re going to do. that day, they scheduled the announcement of our sites for 3:00 p.m. WTF? so basically, we had to sit through the entire day freaking out about our sites. so 3:00 rolls around and we’re still doing some activity from the 1:00 to 3:00 increment and we’re all seriously getting irritated. finally, we go into the big area in front of the huge map of el salvador and these other volunteers come in and tell us we need to do a dinamica (these stupid icebreaker games) and we’re like "seriously, you have got to be kidding." so we had to write one thing about ourselves that is unique that nobody would know....something along those lines and basically, when rolando or whoever read the statement, the rest of the trainees had to guess who it was. then we had to read this piece of paper that had where our site was and we had to take a star with our name on it and stick it up on the giant map on the place where our site was. so i wrote "i still can’t speak spanish." it’s not an entirely true statement because i can speak spanish 150 times better than when i got here, but i want to be able to speak spanish without thinking about it. anyway – so i think there were only about 3 people that went before rolando read mine. and some people guessed it right away because i’m always talking about how my spanish sucks. so i go up there and read my site and was totally shocked because it wasn’t in la unión or santa ana, but in ahuachapán. the full site location is this:

caserio - san ramoncito
canton – san jorge
municipality – apaneca
department – ahuachapán

rolando totally told me the truth about giving me a "cold" site because apparently my site is in one of the highest areas of the country. anyway – i was so excited because i realized that my site is also near parque nacional el imposible, which is this protected area that has the most biodiversity in el salvador. apparently, scientists are now saying too that the biodiversity in that one area is looking to be more than all of costa rica.....but the jury’s still out on that. anyway, that was all i knew about my site.....i really knew nothing about the pueblo that is near me, or even ahuachapán. all of the things i knew about ahuachapán came from ashley (our tech trainer) who’s site is/was on the beach in southwestern ahuachapán. megan got a site that’s inbetween san vicente and san salvador, and she was pretty bummed about it because none of us wanted to be close to san vicente or the capital. but after talking to some people, we’ve heard that the place she’ll be is actually really pretty and the people in her canton are super nice. so she feels a little better about it. anna is also in ahuachapán, and she’s actually taking over ashley’s site. ashley’s two years are up now and she’s doing a third year as the ag4/ee tech trainer. she had started up an artesan business with the women in her canton, and anna is super good at that type of thing, so anna was totally happy. our sites are not that far from each other as the crow flies, but by bus it’ll probably be longer because el imposible lies right in the center. but we were saying how we were destined to be friends because in D.C. the peace corps put us in the same room. then here, they put us both in molineros. and now, they put us both in ahuachapán. it’s so hilarious. but it’s cool because we get along and it’ll be awesome to visit each other’s sites. there are two other volunteers that got placed near anna too, so it’s going to be fun visiting everyone.

so last night i was reading in one of my travel books about apaneca – which is my "pueblo" and i was super excited to read that it’s one of the towns on "la ruta de los flores." la ruta de los flores connects the towns of apaneca, juaya and nauhuizalco and is surrounded by forests and coffee plantations. i guess it is in the mountains and there are a couple volcanoes nearby. then today, megan and i went into the training center to work on our camp for saturday and we ran into this other volunteer who is already serving. he was asking us where our sites where and when i told him where mine was he’s like "what? you know about this town, right?" he was talking about apaneca and he was saying how it’s got the best scenic views in the country and it’s just really beautiful. i guess the climate is really great as well and there are a couple of lagunas near the area. i’m sooooo excited and cannot wait to see it for real next week when we go on our site visits. also – ahuachapán is the western-most department in el salvador, so that means i’m really close to guatemala too. when i get my green card and some travel days, i’m headed for the border!

tomorrow, we have to do a presentation on one custom of el salvador. molineros got assigned to do birthdays. over the travel weekend, melissa didn’t go anywhere, so she made up these charts with vocab words and all this other stuff – without even involving us three. she’s a bit weird, just because she is treating this training time like it’s school or something. she doesn’t interact with anyone here or in the training center. i mean, i understand if she’s introverted and just wants to be alone or whatever. but we HAVE to do things as a group – it’s part of the assignments they give us. plus, she’s got this reputation in molineros of being "proud" and "snobby" because she doesn’t really interact with anyone, and she hates kids. seriously, though, i think she’s going to be at a disadvantage when she gets to her site because a lot of how we are going to get things accomplished is by building relationships with people – not books. and basically, that’s all she does is copy down vocab and do things like that – and it makes megan, anna and i look like we’re hoodlums because we aren’t always studying. the thing is, we are getting community experience by going to birthdays and things like that. my mom invited megan, anna and melissa to sindy’s birthday, and only anna and megan came. the other night it was anna’s host sister’s birthday and anna’s mom invited all of us, and only megan and i went. anna, megan and i thought it would be cool community contact to tye dye shirts with the kids in our community, so we did that....but melissa didn’t participate at all. we made quesadillas with megan’s mom and chilakila’s with anna’s mom. and tonight we made mexican food with my mom. and all of those times, melissa totally said "no, i’m going to do vocab" or whatever. anything that might involve laughing, having a good time or just generally learning something by interacting with other people, melissa’s like "that sounds like a good idea. i’m not going to do it though. but you guys will have a great time." like we’re idiot kids or something. ugh! i like melissa, i just think she’s missing out on what our service is supposed to be about – and that’s building these relationships with the people so we can work with them. not holing ourselves up in our houses and reading how-to books so we can lecture to everyone. it’s just weird.

ANYWAY...... i can’t believe i just rambled like we have to do this birthday presentation, right? so anna, megan and i thought it would be a cool thing to learn how to make a REAL piñata and then make one for the birthday presentation. so tonight we did that and it was hilarious. we decided it would be funny to make a mosquito. so we made "the mosquito that gave erich dengue." one of the other trainees got dengue a couple weeks ago and he missed out on some stuff and he was super bummed out. so we thought it would be funny to make this piñata the mosquito that gave erich dengue so he can hit it. it turned out so awesome, and we learned how to make real piñatas from my mom and mama rosa....not the balloon/cornstarch ones.

ok, well i’m posting a bunch of pictures because i finally got my camera. i’ve posted pics in the "volcano" entry....those are obviously pics from the volcano hike. then i posted a pic in this entry of the piñata!

adios for now!

megan, anna and i with the dengue mosquito piñata