Friday, December 09, 2005

so this is what it feels like to have almost too much down time

[i posted two entries for the previous one, scroll down to ¨my two years has officially started¨ before reading this one]

so for all of you who thought i´d be busy my first week in my site, i´m sorry to disappoint you, but i´ve done basically nothing since arriving! actually, it sounds worse than it really is. first, school is out until february….so neither my counterpart, or any of the other teachers are hip to ¨working¨ right now. christmas is coming and they´re all preoccupied with that. secondly, i live in apaneca, which is about 2km from my ¨site.¨ i think it would be kind of awkward going up to san jorge and just wandering the streets, introducing myself…even though that´s basically what we´re supposed to do. third, my spanish is pretty good, but far from great. and doing this whole introduction thing sometimes leads to deeper conversations and that´s territory i´m not sure of. it´s easy to say stuff like ¨hi, i´m laura. nice to meet you. do you live here?¨ stuff like that. but when you start saying things like ¨what projects should i start, what problems does san jorge have, where´s the best pupuseria in apaneca,¨ that just opens up dialogue that is difficult to follow. most of the time if i get into these long conversations, i get maybe ¾ of it….which isn´t bad, but i don´t want to start off meeting people and only understanding like ¾ of what they are saying to me. the responses to questions about names and locations are generally short and sweet and i can totally follow them. wait, i take that back about the names thing. you ask somebody their name here and they give you six names. seriously…..jose antonio christian rodriguez jiminez. but the guy goes by tonito. but other times, his mom will call him jose. like my sister in molineros – her name is dayana guadalupe de ceron dimas. half the time they call her dayanita. some of the time they call her ¨lupe¨ or ¨lupita.¨ or in sindy´s case, because she can´t say ¨lupe¨ she calls her ¨wupe.¨ so it´s kind of crazy when you are trying to get to know an entire community and they´re all giving you like 3 names, none of which is used more frequently than the others. and it´s even funnier when they ask me my name. i´ll say ¨laura¨ and they´ll stand there hanging on it, waiting for me to say more. so i´ll tell them my middle name ¨¨ann¨ and they´ll act all disappointed because that´s all i have. so i´ll try to beef it up and say it´s ¨anna¨ and sometimes that gets a little approval. then i´ll try to give them my last name, which is always met with looks of confusion (much like it is in the states), and then they´ll ask if it´s my mother´s name, my father´s name or…….my husband´s name?? which then leads to the shocked response of ¨you´re 33 and you´re not married??¨ seriously, if you have seen that movie bridget jones´s diary where she is at that dinner with her friends and there are only couples there and they are grilling her on why she´s not married…well, that is basically what it comes down to here every time i meet someone new from the community. it´s like i´ve suddenly got horns growing out of my head, or i´ve said that the virgin de guadalupe is a fake. they seriously think there is something really wrong with you if you are 24 or older and have not had a child or gotten married yet. but you know, i just laugh when i see them trying to control their six kids, or i find out their husband has slept with half the town. or when women, especially, tell me they are 27, and look like they´re about 45. seriously, women here look a way lot older than they really are. they always think that i look super young, which i don´t think is the case, but compared to a lot of women here, i guess i do look a lot younger than 33. so for any of you who are blowing wads of money on anti-aging shit, buy a plane ticket to el salvador and see what aging really looks like.

so i just went way off topic…..ok, back to my site. so like i said before, all i did was sleep and unpack my stuff for two days. i finally ventured out to the corner tienda on sunday to get some food. on monday i decided i should really do something, so i decided to head to ahuachapan (the city) and try to set up my new mailing address. ahuachapan turned out to be way bigger than i thought – but in a good way. there´s a huge market, and tons of artisan shops. and it has something i like to call a little piece of home and that´s a grocery store. it´s just like being in the states when you´re in the grocery store here. so after spending like an hour in the post office, i bought what seemed like an ungodly amount of stuff for only $25 at the store. the kid who bagged my groceries put them on one of those cart things to help me out to the car he apparently thought i had. i was like ¨all i have is this backpack¨ and so he walked away and just left the cart there. ha. so that was the sum of my work on monday.

tuesday i went over to the casa de cultura in apaneca (advice from the previous volunteer) and introduced myself to don carlos, the guy who is in charge there. he gave me this book on the history of apaneca to read which was really cool. i found out that apaneca means ¨rio de viento¨ (wind river) which explains why the hell it has been freezing cold and windyat night since i´ve gotten here. apparently, the months of november, december and january are the coldest and windiest here. yay!!!

wednesday, i finally got up the guts to go up to san jorge. i decided to visit the family i had stayed with during my site visit. when i got to their house, only madelyn was there so i talked to her for a little bit and wached some of this soccer game that was on. then some dude came out of one of the bedrooms and i introduced myself. i never caught his name, but i ended up having this hour-long conversation with him about the problems el salvador is having with the coffee and fruit prices. he also was talking to me about some of the problems san jorge has. he was a really cool guy, and hopefully i will get to talk to him again. then mercedes came home and i couldn´t believe it, but she gave me a huge hug. seriously, these were the same people that didn´t talk to me at all my first day at their house. i was totally surprised. so i talked with her a little while and then decided to go try and visit the promoter de salud, don tonito. i had visited his house the last time i was there and talked with his sister, claudia.

so i ventured down there and he wasn´t there, but claudia was, and just like mercedes, she gave me this huge hug. so i talked to her for a while and she showed me some family photos…so i felt better because i had at least made some community contact. i gave her my phone # to give to her brother and told her that i was staying at the hostal orquideas so if he is apaneca he can visit.

well, who do you think stopped by on thursday?? yeah, you guessed it. and if you remember, the last time i met this guy, i was wearing my pj´s. this time wasn´t much better. i was just going to stay at the hostal all day and study spanish, so i was wearing this detroit tigers t-shirt that i´ve been wearing off and on for about three days. i had on scruffy jeans and socks and tevas. yeah, you read that right….it´s so freezing here at night, i´ve gotten accustomed to wearing socks w/ my tevas when i´m just at the hostal. and to top it off, i was wearing a red bandana on my head (you know, like a farmworker). seriously, i looked like i was there to clean the hostal, not like i lived there. so after nina teresita knocked on my door and told me that tonito was there, i greeted him and embarrassingly sat down and talked to him in the lobby of the hostal. but whatever, who cares really. we just talked about the kind of stuff we can do, and he is super gung-ho about working on a trash campaign in san jorge. so that´s all that matters. we talked for a little bit and then he said that there is a meeting on the 19th of december that he wants me to go to. i kept trying to ask him what the meeting was about and he just kept saying ¨con la comunidad.¨ so i still don´t know what the meeting is for, but i suppose i´ll find out soon enough. so i told him i wanted to write it down in my notebook (like i have soooo many other meetings scheduled), and when i did, he kept saying ¨make sure you write down that it´s in san jorge, and it´s with the community, and it´s at 8:00, and it´s a monday.¨ i was like ¨chill dude!¨ then he asked me if i had his name and phone # written down and i said yeah, but he asked to see so i showed him, but i apparently didn´t have it absolutely correct, so he asked me for my pen and took my notebook and wrote his full name (see the above paragraph on names) – rafael antonio riviera gallegas. for real though, i´m not going to forget his name, he´s like the only person i have talked to about work stuff.

in any event, you can all breathe easy, because i have a meeting planned!!!!

as for today, friday, i came back into ahuachapan to pick up some things i didn´t get before. i´m on the hunt for a pillow. i´m tired of sleeping on these weirdo faux pillows that are nothing more than some shirts stuffed in a pillowcase. every person here has this crazy pillow idea and it just doesn´t work for me. i think i might have to go to san salvador though. i can sleep on ratty ass beds, or on the floor even, but this pillow thing has got to go.

finally, i have a new address….i´ll still get things if they get sent to the san salvador address…but it will take me way longer to get them because i´m not going to be in san salvador more than twice a month. so here it is:

1 av y 1 calle orte #2-1
apartado postal #23
ahuachapan, el salvador
central america

ok peeps, i´m outta here for now. I´m off to buy a machete!!! (sorry i don´t have any pics….i´ll post some next time – of swearing in and all the festivities)