Saturday, January 21, 2006

not quite missing the states, but there is this one thing....

well, i’ve been reminded of one thing i miss terribly about the great north. for the past couple of weeks i’ve been listening to nothing but pearl jam, and since my friend nick sent me copies of a few shows from their canadian tour way back when, i’ve had quite the pearl jam fiesta going on here, because i’m not getting burned out on any one album or show of theirs. i swear, i think i brought every pearl jam disc that i own with me (could be why my duffel bags were so heavy), and with the added cache of what nick sent, i’m good to go! anyway, yes, i miss pearl jam, but actually, they were somewhere in the vicinity of me in december, doing their latin american tour....yeah, it’s over, but whatever....the important thing is that they thought it was best to follow me down here to latin america, if only for a couple of months. i’m sure stone gossard was the one who suggested this to the rest of the band. and i’m sure once the band heard about how i was going on this super long journey to help the world understand that the united states isn’t ALL bad, they immediately cancelled all their plans and came up with the whole brilliant latin american tour plan. either that, or they just wanted to go to latin america because it’s really cool here and they could make some more $$$ by playing to sold out crowds. but i’d like to believe the first scenario, as crazy as it is.

in any event, last night, i was listening to their halifax, novia scotia show and eddie’s talking about this canadian beer that he wants to try because everyone’s telling him to try’s called “keith’s” i don’t know the beer, but i think that’s what it’s called....just not sure on the spelling. anyway, he’s going on and on about it.....and then he says something like “uh, what period is it?” “i don’t know, bring me another keith’s.” you know, mocking hockey players and all that. and i realized that i haven’t seen a friggin’ NHL hockey game in forever....i left right before the season started, after being DENIED for a whole year because of that asinine lockout or whatever it is they officially called it. and hockey really isn’t something that’s covered a whole lot – well, NEVER, - here. i can tell you the soccer scores of every team known to man, but unless i go to the internet place and do all kinds of searches left and right for hockey news, i get nothin’ down here. other than the couple of e-mails from my friend bryan about the status of the red wings, i’ve heard basically nothing about hockey. (FYI – it may seem like i have a ton of time on the ‘net because my blog entries are always of war and peace length, but actually what i do is type up this shit on my laptop when i’m trying to figure out what to do between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. and then i just save it on a flashdrive and then copy/paste it! i feel like i’m in the “age of technology peace corps.” but i can’t help it....i’m in the peace corps in the year 2005. it’s just not the same as the peace corps in the 70’s, which i would have probably LOVED.

one thing i don’t have is an ipod [which a ton of volunteers have] and i don’t have a television. or a lot of other things, like an iron - which should be designated the national household appliance here, even if the irons aren´t actually electric. everything gets ironed here, i’m not even kidding. most of the time, this makes me feel like a hobo because i’m usually wearing a t-shirt that i’ve already worn once before without washing. pants? forget about it. i could go weeks without washing pants. why would i do something like that, you ask? because i really, really hate washing clothes by hand in the lavadora/pila. i would gladly go back to having a latrine if i just had a washing machine. adding to the difficulty of washing clothes by hand is the fact that i simply cannot do it right, let alone with any kind of ease. i look like an asshole, pretending i actually know what i’m doing when i’m standing there in front of the pila with a bar of laundry soap and a brush. have any of you ever tried to rinse jeans of all their soap using a guacal of water over and over again? has to be one of the worst tasks i’ve ever had to do. i sometimes think nina teresita is going to reprimand me because there have been times where i’ve seriously lowered the level of the water in the pila, and i still haven’t gotten all the soap out of ONE PAIR of jeans. the only good part about washing clothes by hand is it gives me some time (lots of time) to just think about things....the fact that i’m in el salvador, getting sunburned almost every day, eating some of the best food i’ve ever had, meeting really cool people, learning another language, living a lot more simply than i could have ever imagined, getting to hike all the time, and basically just doing everything i’ve wanted to do for a really long time. so add “washing machine” to the list of things i don’t have.

i also don’t have a car. nor have i driven one in almost 5 months. crazy. i hope my dad doesn’t junk my car back home just because i have kerry/edwards and grateful dead stickers on it. my car rocks! but the more and more i am here, the more and more i want a pickup.

one piece of technology that i cringed when i had to buy it....a cell phone. i’ve never owned a cell phone in my life, and here i HAD [read HAD] to get one......our director made us get them because we wouldn’t have landlines and because this country is so prone to natural disasters [remember the hurricane, volcano, earthquake trifecta earlier in september?] we are required to have them in order to be contacted in times of these emergencies. so for all y’all who are laughing out of your seats right now because i actually own a cell phone, and it took me going into the friggin’ PEACE CORPS to get it.......shut it.)

most of the reason i wanted to bring a laptop is because i wanted to take tons of pictures and with film it’s hard because you can’t really get it developed here because the developing system here sucks...and to cart around crazy amounts of film for two years and then have to take it all back to the states is ridiculous. so i went the digital route (yes, more technology), but you can only fit so many pics on a digital card, so the computer is the best option because then i can download my pictures from the card onto the computer. and it has worked out for me fantastically! and i can post pics of all my stuff on the blog, which is cool. so all in all, yeah, it may seem like everything’s way more technological now, but in all honesty, i have to admit, i like being able to take all these damn pictures and document everything....because yes, while i can write about this stuff and remember it, it’s still pretty awesome to have a photograph. plus – what’s really fun is documenting drunken gringo outings where people make asses out of themselves and then there are photos of those good times.

although, i read something in this book shortly before coming here, which has kept me pretty level-headed during times when my camera decides not to work (my previous digital camera), leaving me without a camera at all....or the batteries run out or i fill up the card. this woman was talking about how she was traveling somewhere in southeast asia and had to take this little plane into an area where it wasn’t really that safe and the plane was dangerous – and there were all these things that made the trip pretty unsafe. it wasn’t something she could do over and over again. anyway, the plane touched down in this remote jungle area and she walked around a while, looking for a way to get to this secret area that was hard to get to, but supposed to be one of the most beautiful places ever. she found this old man from the village that told her he could take her in his raft/boat and she was all excited. but then she realized she didn’t have film, or something was wrong with her camera - i can’t remember what the problem was - but in any event, her camera was useless and she was so far out of the way and had gone through all this trouble to get there, there was no way she could get more film or batteries or whatever it was. in other words, she wouldn’t be able to take any pictures of this cool spot that she had wanted to visit. and she was disappointed and told the old man that it wouldn’t be worth it because of her camera problem. and the guy was like “what are you talking about, you still have your eyes!” that story made me really emotional!!! but it’s totally true....regardless of how many photos i take, nothing really compares to actually being here and seeing whatever it is i’m seeing. i mean, even on my trips to the lagunas, or on any of the hikes – sure i have all these pictures of these flowers and the lagunas and me standing by some coffee trees or whatever – but dudes, you should see these friggin’ awesome butterflies that are all over the place up in the cerros....on the way up, at the top, on the way down. there are ones that are green and black striped, and other ones that are red, yellow and black, others are this bright flourescent blue – like these amazing bright colors that you wouldn’t even believe existed, let alone on these tiny creatures. they just won’t sit on a branch or a flower or anything....they just keep flying around, so i can never get a picture of any of them. but who cares because i actually get to see them, right? i’m not even going to get into the orchids, because they are just so amazing. and even taking pictures of’s like yeah, i have pictures of what they look like but man, you cannot capture their personalities or how funny they are or how nice they are. you only get that by actually talking to them. the kids at the school....they are so awesome!

it’s like in the end, photography kind of is a big giant joke you’re playing on everyone you show your pictures to. sure, i can tell you all “this here’s a view of volcan izalco” but nothing compares to riding the bus from san salvador to sonsonate and seeing it’s size looming on the right side of the bus, knowing that i’m on my way back to apaneca....knowing that volcan izalco, and volcan santa ana are kind of the barrier between the hot, humid south and the awesome climate of apaneca and juaya and san jorge and once i get past volcan izalco, i’ll be able to breathe again..... i could take photos of all this food i’m consuming but man, nothing would ever compare to seeing nina flor come to the school and shouting up to me where i’m working in the huertos “laura, comida!” and then seeing what she made for us that day and it’s something totally awesome like chimol, arroz, pollo and tortillas, with aguacate. photography is awesome, but it’s also deceiving. so in any event, i love having my camera, and my computer to put the pictures on....but i suppose if either of them broke i’d still have a great time here.

so anyway, what i was trying to say is this: i miss hockey!!!

all that being said about photos, i have a photo bonanza below......miscellaneous stuff like kids from school, orchids and other flowers, and cerro apaneca which i hiked this very morning! check ‘em out!!!!

so antonio and i were walking up the trail on cerro apaneca (aka ¨chichastepec¨) and these horses came out of nowhere and started galloping down the trail around us. it was super weird!!!

view of apaneca from the top of cerro apaneca

view of san jorge (left) and ataco (upper center) from the trail going down cerro apaneca

border="0" /> same photo that i labeled so you can see where stuff is

from the top of cerro apaneca, you can see the ocean!

two kids from school - kevin and his sister wendy


nehemias and maria leticia

some of the kids in the first and second grade

me with my new machete!

some of the orchids nina teresita has growing at the hostal

more of nina teresita´s orchids

tree in cerro apaneca....the dark spots on the branches are all orchids that haven´t bloomed yet....the trees in this area are covered with these...even the pine trees!