Friday, December 09, 2005

my two years has officially started!!!

well, people, i´m officially a volunteer now. i wish i could say that there was some kind of difference between being a trainee and being a volunteer, but really, other than not having every single minute of my day accounted for like it was in training, things are basically the same for now.

so last week was a little nuts…..monday was our last official day of training and then on tuesday and wednesday we had orientation from some of the people from the san salvador office. actually, wednesday we didn´t because the FMLN blocked all of the major roads in the country so none of the people from the san salvador office could get to san vicente. we weren´t able to leave san vicente until after 5:00 and even then, we had to take some weirdo backroads route.

by far the worst part of the week was leaving our families on wednesday a.m. it was really hard and surprisingly, the person that was most preoccupied with my leaving was mama viviana, papa ovidio´s mother. she was the hardest person to talk to, and to understand what she was saying, but she and i got along really well. she would always come over and bring me oranges and watermelon and tamales. the night before i left, she came over and hung out with us and every couple of minutes kept asking ana about where i was going and if i was going alone and who was i going to live with. she was just totally preoccupied by it and when she went to leave, it´s like she didn´t want to. then the next a.m. she came over to make sure that i would stop at her house and get oranges for my trip. anna met me on the road and so we walked over to mama viviana´s house and she gave us each this big bag of oranges and we tried to tell her we only needed like 2 each, but she insisted. anyway, the whole leaving molineros thing was really hard – a lot harder than we all expected.

anyway, so the first thing some of us did when we got into san salvador was go see harry potter. we were happy because they were showing a subtitled version. the whole dubbing thing is just super ridiculous. and the movie was only $1.75??? the usual price for a movie is $3.50 here. not $8.00…..$3.50!!!! anyway, after that, we met the rest of the crew over at some bar near metrocentro and had an awesome time. there were some ag4/ee volunteers from 2004 there, as well as some other people from other groups. we all ended up super drunk and walked back to the estancia down crack alley – which we totally should not have done – but whatever. the estancia is kind of like the peace corps hostel, because other than the occasional backpackers, only peace corps volunteers stay there.

the next day was rough because we had to get a bunch of things done before going to the embassy in the afternoon. i was totally hungover, but we managed to pull ourselves together and cab it over to the embassy. there, we were searched 3 times before being allowed to enter. then we had to attend a security briefing (because some guy was supposed to give us the briefing in san vicente on wed….but he couldn´t get there). basically, we learned in the security briefing that as of the latest statistics, el salvador is now the most dangerous country in latin america. it has even surpassed colombia for crying out loud. this is because of the recent gang activity here which has resulted in an ungodly amount of random murders here. the guy was saying that unlike colombia, where it´s mostly terrorist related killing (from the guerrilla groups there), here it´s almost all related to gangs. the gangs are made up of young punk kids, lots of them are only like 8-14 years old, as well as deported guys from the states. these guys were born in the states, but because of the recent crackdown on illegal immigration in the u.s., and because they got into trouble in the states, they were deported and joined gangs here. the biggest gangs here are the mara salvatrucha and the ms-18. anyway, they have initiations like they have to kill someone their own age, or they have to kill two people, or rape someone or something stupid like that. the good thing is, i´m in a relatively safe area….and basically if you´re in the campo (the country) you´re probably safe. there are specific areas that are super dangerous…one of them being sonsonate, which is bad news, because i have to go through sonsonate to get to san salvador from apaneca. not only that, but i have to change buses at the sonsonate terminal, which is really, really sketchy. i did not feel comfortable the last time i was there. but whatever, i´ll just have to make sure i´m always there during the daytime.

so after this dude scared the bejesus out of us, we walked on over to the ambassador´s house and met up with our 2 family members that were able to attend. papa ovidio and ana were there, and it was like seeing my own family back in the states. i was so glad to see them. i asked them how things were going and they said mama viviana was still asking about me. anyway, then we all had to sit through a bunch of speeches and then take an oath where we swore to prtect the constitution of the united states, blah, blah, blah. then we had to walk in front of everyone and get this certificate and try not to fall down. when the formalities were overwith, we were served this amazing, amazing food, but it was kind of sad again because we ate with our families and we knew this was the last time we´d see them, at least until christmas. anna´s host mom was bawling, and everyone from molineros was hugging and saying goodbye. it really was one of the saddest times here. after our families left, we went and took some group pictures and then headed over to the hotel princess for some drinks. there was going to be a party later at this other bar and like every volunteer serving in the country was going to show up. the hotel princess was lame, because we ordered mojitos and they weren´t even full and they cost $4.00, which is a lot in el salvador. seriously, a $2.00 lunch is considered expensive. the party at the other bar was fun, but man was i dragging ass from the night before. we generally just acted ridiculous and drank shots of tequila the rest of the night.

surprisingly, the next day, i felt fine. we had to meet up with our counterparts at 8:30 back at the princess hotel and attend a meeting all morning about the work we´ll be doing and all that. after saying goodbye to everyone, we had to go on across the street to the peace corps office and get all our stuff, load it up in the truck our counterpart was supposed to bring with them, and leave san salvador. my counterpart – elba – brought mirna (one of the other teachers with her) and then some dude, who was driving the truck. on the trip to apaneca she was telling me how the guy driving was from the mayor´s office in apaneca and that the mayor was letting us use his truck. they kept calling him ¨el tigre¨ but i was confused. there was a sticker of a tiger on the front windshield but i still have no idea why he is referred to as the tiger???

so after they dropped me off in apaneca, what did i do??? sleep, sleep, sleep!!!

adios for now…