Saturday, November 26, 2005

meeting important people in your pajamas is really embarassing (day 3 of my site visit)

so i slept until 7:30 on wednesday, which is really, really late for el salvador. since i went to bed at 8:30, i guess it does seem like a ton of sleep. so after i ate breakfast, i was sitting around talking to the grandmother when this dude shows up at the house. i was sitting near the front door, and so i got up to say hello, and then i realized it was the “promotor de salud” for san jorge – don tonito. the previous volunteer had written to me and told me that he was really interested in meeting with the next volunteer so that we can work on some kind of trash campaign together. but i hadn’t expected him to come over to the house at 8:00 in the a.m. i had no idea i was going to even meet him on this site visit! but whatever. we just chatted, as best as we could – given my broken spanish and all. then i mentioned to him that i had forgotten to give the letters to elba and he said that he was going to apaneca later in the day and could give them to her. i crossed my fingers and gave him the letters with much thanks. i figured it was the best it was wednesday and i still had not seen or heard from her. anyway, don totino went on his way and we decided that when i come back in december, we’re going to get together to discuss the situation in san jorge. so after his visit, i was pumped because i had actually talked to someone in my community about something that i can work on when i get there.

so an hour and a half later, in walks in some other dude from the ministry of health – which is where don tonito is from, but don tonito is from san jorge. the other guy – don emilio – was from the municipality of apaneca, and was there to do malaria testing on the people in the house. i talked to him for a little bit, and then he saw that i had my camera, so he wanted me to take pictures of him doing the malaria testing. i’m telling you, the camera and the television shows were the savior of my site visit. anyway, after what seemed like forever, don emilio left and i decided i wanted to walk back down to the bosque to check it out. right before i left the house, the grandma said she would go with me, so we trekked back on down to the bosque. i could tell she was trying to help me find a house in san jorge because everybody we went and visited, she would drop hints about me needing a house and kind of in a roundabout way would ask them if they knew of anything. we stopped at the property that belonged to the rich woman, and the guy who takes care of the garden let us walk around and look at all the flowers. it was amazing. there were so many different colors and types of flowers, i couldn’t even believe it. then we walked over to the other side, and some woman let us go to the other side of her property and check out the pine tree bosque located there. that’s one thing i looooove about my site – there are TONS of pine trees there.

after that, the grandma decided she wanted to take me over to one of the big fincas in san jorge, so we walked over there and i was totally blown away. i couldn’t believe we were still in el salvador. this place had some cabins and an orchid grove and every plant and flower you can imagine all over the place. we hung out there for a really long time and met the owner and her daughter and i took so many pictures. the trees were huge and had these gigantic trunks that wrapped around over and over. i kept saying that i just wanted to live there. i actually think i’m going to be able to spend some time learning about the native plants and flowers of el salvador as another secondary project – to try and do some type of environmental appreciation with the kids, or even the adults in the community.

by the time we got back to the house, it was already dinner time and just when i thought my day was going to end on a fabulous note, that stupid guy and his daughters came over again. UGH!!! so we went through the same motions as before....them only saying “hola” and then igoring me. but then, i realized that the guy was DYING to say something to me, and finally he asked me who i was. so i told him. and his second question was “what’s your religion?” i said “what?” not because i didn’t understand him, but because i couldn’t believe that was his second question to me. when i said “what,” he said, “su religion!” and made some motion of turning the pages of the bible. it all came together for me – this guy had to be evangelical and was clearly reluctant to talk to me because the evangelicals are really wary of people who aren’t fellow evangelicals. the peace corps says that you really don’t want to affiliate yourself with one religion or another, but it’s also at your disadvantage to not say you are with any religion because then people think you don’t believe in god and then REALLY won’t work with you. so i simply told him that “my family is catholic.” which is true – in el salvador and in the states. i’ve got a whole lot of issues with religion, but i knew that coming down here i was going to have to deal with it one way or while i’m here that’s how it’s going to have to be. for the most part though, the catholics seem to have a better grasp of reality – moreso than in the states. they don’t judge other people and seem to be way more accepting of outsiders and other people than the evangelicals. my town seems to be a mix of the two – so that’s good. but i’ll talk more about the religious and the all-important political makeup of my community (and of el salvador) in another post.

so this dude talked to me for a while, so it was better than the first time he was there. but they stayed forever, and finally, i had to just go to bed. i was freezing and i was ready to get ready to leave. i said my “buenas noches” and was off to slumberland.

i left early the next morning and it took me nearly 5 1/ 2 hours to get back to molineros. but i had a really great feeling about everything – like i had talked with lots of people in the community and built a pretty good confianza with at least some members......which is probably the most important thing you can do right off the bat. even moreso than starting any projects, just getting to know people and tell them about yourself is great. and, i’m fairly confident that at lesat half the town is trying to find me a place to live there. they think it’s absolutely awesome that i want to live there in the caserio with them. so i’ve got that going for me too. so the moral of the story is – don’t judge your entire site visit by your first day there!

don emilio giving mercedes her malaria test

mercedes washing clothes

fucia flowers in the backyard of my family´s home

orchids in the vivero/finca i visited in san jorge