Friday, January 13, 2006

laguna las ninfas

last weekend i finally hiked laguna las ninfas which was amazing. there is this huge bosque surrounding the actual laguna that has the biggest trees i´ve seen yet. we started out pretty early, and i was really unhappy because the wind was fierce. it had almost kept me up all night, and i was just coming off a small cold, so the wind was not making me happy at all. but once we got into the actual forest it was ok. there really isn´t much to the laguna itself, most of it is obscured by the many plants growing in the middle of it. but the views from the trail up to the laguna were fantastic. because laguna las ninfas is one of the communities that antonio works with, we stopped at a bunch of houses along the way so he could check on them. basically his job entails going to a few select houses in one of the five communities he is assigned to and he checks on the kids to make sure they´re healthy and then looks at their medical charts. then he talks to the moms about nutrition and stuff like that. so anyway, we hiked through the forest and i´m telling you, it was unbelievable. nearly every tree had orchids growing on the branches. there were signs of earthquakes of the past - humungous boulders that had fallen down the side of the mountain and were now being held up by one single strong tree. just amazing. i think by the end of the hike antonio thought i was officially crazy because i just kept wanting to look at the trees...they were just so friggin´ cool. i kept saying ¨trees are our friends!!!!¨ and he´d just laugh like i was some crazy person.

later, as the trail ended and merged into a small ¨road¨ we heard the sound of what we thought was a car or something coming up the road. it turned out to be one of those all-terrain vehicles and the dude driving it was the owner of the land on that side of the mountain. he stopped the atv and introduced himself and we talked with him for a bit. he started speaking to me in english and explained that he was married to a german woman and his mom is from somewhere in the states which is why he could speak english. after he left, antonio told me that the woman he married has tons of money and he´s basically a kept man. they both live in this huge house on the top of the mountain, and it just so happened that one of the families that antonio checks on as part of his work is the family that takes care of the house and land of this rich couple. they live in their own separate house on the property as well. which is why the guy wasn´t pissed that we were traipsing on his property when he met up with us. so we hiked up to this dude´s house and before we got to the gate, eight gigantor german shepherds came out of nowhere on the other side and were barking up a storm. the man and woman who care for the big house came to greet us and let us in and we hung out there for a while. the house that the rich couple owns is crazy in comparison to the normal houses here. it´s just so odd to me to see something that ornate and excessive in the middle of a country where 85% of the people can´t even afford a proper roof on their house. it was a beautiful house - all stone - but i was kind of irritated by the whole thing. we had a great time hanging out with the family that takes care of the land though. their kids were awesome and they fed us and it was really nice. the views from their house were unreal. you could see juayua, ataco, apaneca, ahuachapan, guatemala....all in this line and it was just really cool to see everything laid out.

we ended up going down to this other house halfway down the cerro where some other rich woman lived. i swear, antonio knows everyone. we talked to the gardner and he let us onto the grounds where we had the most awesome view of ahuachapan. he told me the names of some more of the flowers and plants. we could see the huge house where we had just been which was kind of cool as well.

after we left there, we hiked down through the coffee forest and around the cerro. unbeknownst to me, we ended up hiking about five cerros, but i had no sense of direction and finally i asked antonio irritatnigly ¨donde vamos!?¨ he told me that we were taking a ¨shortcut¨ up and down the cerros because the road was too long. he apparently wanted to go over to san ramoncito because he needed to visit another family there....some girl of one of the families had an eye infection of some sort he had to look at. so i was less irritated when i found out why we were going all the way over to san ramoncito - which is seriously on the other side of a string of cerros surrounding juayua, apaneca and ataco.

we finally made it and wound up at the house of this really cool couple who were just amazed that i was from the states. the woman especially was really preoccupied with the fact that i was this far away from my family in the states and i must just be soooooo sad. i tried to explain how it´s different and my parents understand and all this, but she kept bringing it up. anyway, they wanted to know if i wanted to see this ¨tree¨ house down the road, which had amazing views of guatemala and ahuachapan. so we went over there and the guy who owns the place was fawning all over me. it was so crazy! we all went up into this house and it was soooo friggin´ windy and they were all watching me look through these binoculars. then the guy gets out this chair and tells me to sit down and i´m like ¨nobody else wants to sit down?¨ and everyone else is like ¨no, no....go ahead.¨ it was SO embarassing. then i could have killed antonio because he´s like ¨do you want to eat lunch here?¨ and i´m thinking - why is he asking me this in front of everyone??? because i didn´t know if they had invited us, or if antonio was just suggesting it. so i said yeah, because it´s rude to decline an invitation to eat here, and so we all climbed back down from the house and went back up to the other house and sat around. the first couple went back to their house so the mom could cook the lunch and i felt really bad. and stupid. because that left me, antonio, the guy who owned the tree house and his son. and we were sitting in this room and the guy kept asking me all these questions - one after the other about the states, about my family, my life, everything. and it was basically ¨the laura show.¨

later we sat down to eat outside and the one guy kept trying to get me to eat sardines....and i couldn´t do it. i´ve eaten just about everything here - no questions asked. but i couldn´t pull the trigger on the sardines. i don´t like fish anyway, and sardines in el salvador is not something i even wanted to sample. then all of a sudden i hear this low growl and i turn around and there is this tree stump that is sitting on the railing of the porch and there´s this chicken in there that apparently didn´t like that i had been sitting so close. everyone thought this was the funniest thing ever. i just rolled my eyes and ate my lunch.

later, the guy told me to come out back and so we all went out there and he wanted to show me these crazy white chickens that he had. they were indeed crazy. then i understood something he was telling me earlier. he had told me that i should come back another time and he would make ¨pollo indio.¨ and i´m thinking ¨what the hell is that? chicken from india????¨ then after i saw these crazy white chickens i realized that he was talking about these chickens and the reason he was calling the dish ¨pollo indio¨ is because there is this chicken flavor stuff that everyone puts in soups or on fried chicken or whatever here and the brand is ¨pollo indio.¨ and the chicken on all the advertising signs is white and looks crazy like the chickens this dude had. anyway.....

needless to say, at the end of the day i was dog tired. at one point, antonio and i were at the edge of apaneca and he pointed to the string of cerros behind us and was like ¨we climbed from there to there...¨ i was amazed. i am getting tons of hiking in here, which is awesome!!

yesterday at the school, i was yawning and telling the teachers i was really tired and next thing i know mirna is telling me to go into one of the classrooms. she had arranged the desks so that she, elba and i could take a ¨siesta.¨ i was laughing at the thought of crawling up on these desks and actually napping, but they were dead serious. elba turned on the television and they were like ¨laura, alli...¨ pointing to a little made up bed of desks on the other side of the room. they had instructed bessy to notify us if anyone came to the school - because bessy had just gotten there that afternoon. i´m not even kidding. so we all took siestas and then all the sudden bessy goes ¨gente viniendo!¨ and we three shot up and elba was like ¨el televisor!¨ so i quick shut it off and then we were all like ¨buenas tardes!¨ to this woman who had come to get the list of school stuff that the kids need for next week. later that day elba told me that the teachers were going to go to the casas in the town that had kids in the school. and they wanted me to go to. so i thought ¨ok, no big deal.¨ so around 4:00 we left the school and went to a few houses, then the teachers started talking about some other houses on the other side of the forest and next thing i know were hiking through the coffee forest on the other side of the school. two hours later we returned and we had visited a total of 3 houses in the bosque. it was sad, really, because of the three houses we visited, only one was sure the kids were going to go to school on monday. in one of the others, they were soooo poor....i felt so bad for the kids. and the grandma was making all these excuses why the kids couldn´t go to school. anyway.....i think we´re going to do that again in another location on monday after school´s over.

in any event....this weekend it´s fiesta time in juayua. i´m excited. i looooove juayua. i can´t wait to eat all kinds of food!!!!!!

adios for now!

(with the pictures, i think you can click on them and they will open in another window and you can make them bigger so you can actually see them better.....not sure, but worth a try!)

view of apaneca from the trail on the way up to laguna las ninfas

i was so sad when i saw this huge, old tree had fallen on the trail!!!

view of volcan izalco (center) and volcan santa ana (with the smoke/clouds on the top)...this is on the trail up to laguna las ninfas

me standing almost INSIDE the trunk of this awesome tree....(yes, i´m wearing a el salvador).

view of the coffee forests on cerro las the very top you can see the house of the rich couple whose caretakers we visited. this is a view from some other rich woman´s grounds....

view of volcano in guatemala from cerro las ninfas....the city of ahuachapan is just to the left of the photo.

bamboo forest on trail between cerros

view of center patio of my school.......centro escolar, caserio san jorge!!!