Saturday, November 26, 2005

the power of telenovelas (day two of my site visit)

at 6:45 on tuesday i heard everyone getting up and i seriously was feeling more depressed than ever. i did not want to get up and face the day at all. i had 2 full days ahead of me before i could bolt out of there on thursday a.m. i just couldn’t get into being there. i tried, but the rush of feeling alone and having to leave my family in molineros permanently and the not-talking that went on my first night in san jorge was just too much. plus, thanksgiving was coming and missing home in the states was on my mind. to tell you the truth, i was just happy to be going back to molineros on thursday. being in the states was the last thing on my mind. it seemed like thursday was WEEKS away.

i finally got up and the same woman who gave me dinner and cafe gave me breakfast. i tried to talk to her, but she would only smile and that was it. i started wondering if elba and the other teachers had totally lied to me about my spanish being ok.......maybe nobody in the house could understand me or something???? so after breakfast, i wrote in my journal and then the woman and the 13 year old left – so that made it a little more bearable in the house. only madelyn was there, and she at least had talked to me a little bit.

the morning kind of poked along and i finally told madelyn i had to take a bath and so she showed me where i could do so: in the yard. i’ve lucked out in all of my stays with other families, including my family in molineros, because i’ve always had private bathing areas. in chalatenango, it was kind of rough because i had to bathe in this tiny space that i could berely move around in, but it was a space that had a door that i could shut. at this family’s house, the bathing area was in front of the latrine, with basically no privacy whatsoever – from the family living there, or any of the neighbors. so i pretty much had to take a bucket bath in shorts and a tank top. don’t even ask me how i managed – it’s totally something you have to experience to understand. oh, i forgot to add that the “bathing area” was also in front of the chicken coop – so the entire time i was trying to take a bucket bath, i was being bawked and cawed at by a bunch of chickens.

after that though, i actually felt a lot better. i sat and watched a telenovela with madelyn and it was during this time that madelyn and i were talking a bit more – mostly about the telenovela. i wasn’t even really paying attention to the show – i was thinking about how friggin’ stressed out i was – but every minute or so, something would happen on the show, and madelyn would look at me to see my reaction and we would laugh. so i felt a lot more comfortable. then i got out my camera and was taking pictures of the flowers in the back of the house and that was also kind of an icebreaker. then madelyn asked me if i wanted to go down to the “fiesta” that was apparently taking place a few streets over. i was super excited to get out of the house and do something different than watching television. so we walked over there, but basically all that was going on was a pinata event for the kids, so we decided to just walk around. madelyn said the fiesta would be bigger in the afternoon.

later, after lunch, we heard some kind of marching band music, so we went down on the street and saw about 15 kids playing various instruments. it was the parade for the fiesta, and there were these weirdo dancers wearing masks like the one from scream and other miscellaneous masks. finally, that ended and we went up to the fiesta to watch more crazy dancing and more pinatas being broken. it started to get really cold, so we left and when we got home, there was still nobody there. so we sat around and you guessed it....watched more telenovelas. they are on 24 hours a day here, i’m telling you. oh, and during my time with madelyn that afternoon, i found out that the woman who was giving us dinner and breakfast and all that was her mom, mercedes and the 13 year old was her madelyn’s brother milton. yay for me!!! i cracked the case!!!! i should put in for a detective job with interpol, huh?

anyhow, later mercedes, milton and the grandmother came home and things seemed a little better. my camera was a big hit, and even though they all acted embarassed that i was taking pictures of them, they loved seeing themselves on the monitor of the digital camera. they kept asking me to show them again and again and again. we had crappy cafe again that night, but it didn’t seem nearly as bad as the night before – but i think it had something to do with how i was feeling emotionally too. just a lot more comfortable. i also met two other neighbors that night – juana and blanca, and blanca’s kid, jose. so it seemed like i was getting to know more people than just the people in the house.

after dinner we “desgranar”ed the corn that mercedes and milton had purchased in ahuachapan (the city) that day. basically, you just have to take all the kernels off the dried corn cob and then they take the kernels to the molino and then the family makes its own tortillas. i think they were glad i helped them, and they thought it was so hysterical that i was so slow at it. whatever. i went to bed feeling lots better, but i still was happy that i only had one more day left.

madelyn in the bosque

milton chopping wood for the kitchen oven