Thursday, March 16, 2006

privacy por favor!

my goal for the month of march is to find a way to become anonymous for like 5 minutes. it would make me really happy to figure this out. i guess i expected my “feelin’ the el salvador love” would diminish slightly the longer i was here, and i’m not saying i’m not still “feelin’ the love,” but i’d like to feel the love while not being the center of attention 24/7!!! most times it doesn’t bother me at all – i just think to myself - you’re only one of thousands of volunteers all over the world that are going through the same thing.....people’s eyes on every single thing we’re doing, wondering all kinds of things about us. it’s not really so much the staring and the stupid guys that say stupid things like “i love you baby” or my very favorite “i love you baby please don’t go away.” listen to 80’s love tunes much, dude? while those can be annoying for 5 seconds, they don’t stay with me at all and i just get on the bus, or go to the tienda or keep walking and unless they are bolos (drunks), the guys generally keep to their little group of other idiot friends.

what has been building ever since i arrived here at my site has been the growth of people that i have built relationships with, who now, feel like it’s part of their daily or weekly routine to be “all up in my business.” i’ll do something over the weekend – something completely average – and i’ll see my counterpart, elba, at school on monday and she’ll be like “pedro [her husband] saw you walking down the street with antonio, where were you, what did you do, etc., etc.” one time i told her and the other teachers i was going to be in san salvador for a couple days turning in my plan de trabajo and other paperwork. so the next time i came to the school mirna’s like “laura, you came back late last night from san salvador!” and i’m like “yeah, how did you know?” and she told me elba told her she saw me on the bus. how in the hell did elba see me on the bus? seriously? she lives in apaneca, and the bus kind of passes by her house. actually, it passes through the intersection of the street that her house is on. how she saw me on the bus is beyond me. i finally straight up asked elba how she saw me and she’s like “i was at my house.” i’m pretty sure nobody, except superman maybe, could be standing in front of elba’s house and see me sitting on the bus. no way. it’s situations like these that are getting to be so crazy. i’m not trying to lead some kind of super secret spy life or anything. i’m just doing normal things, going to normal places and everyone finds this fascinating enough to repeat it to other people.

this isn’t just limited to salvadorans though. oh no. you think there’s any anonymity within the peace corps group in el salvador? forget it. it’s a small country and there are quite a few volunteers here – all from different groups. anyway, i’ve been to san salvador probably three times since i arrived at my site back in december. i really don’t like going there, it’s polluted, hot, dangerous and filled with other peace corps volunteers who like the capital because they can party or see their other volunteer friends who also love the capital. that’s cool for them, but i love my site. (and after rolando came to my site for my site visit he told me that a lot of my group is the same way – we all love our sites and just want to stay put.) i get most of what i need in ahuachapán and don’t need to really go to san salvador for much but work stuff at the office. i’ve kept in touch with a few volunteers in my group, and have had a couple people visit me here, but for the most part have been keeping to myself at my site – which has moved my spanish right along because i’m not speaking english a lot. anyway, i e-mailed ashley (our ag4/ee tech trainer) and asked her about getting worms for my worm box project, and she replied and was like “laura, i thought i’d never see you – i heard you LOVE your site.” where she heard this i don’t know. i guess it’s possible anna told her because anna has ashley’s old site so anna talks to ashley more than i do. ok, so fine. not a big deal. then earlier last week, i finally e-mailed pictures of my immersion day in chalatenango (back in october) to the volunteer i visited there. she had asked me to send her the pictures when i got them developed, so that’s what i did. she e-mailed me back and was like “i just talked to a volunteer the other day and they said you really love your site!” then when i went into san sal to get the worms the other day, i ran into a guy from my group, york, and we haven’t seen each other since we left for our sites, so we hugged and asked the general “how ya doin’ in your site” questions. but before he asked me how i “was doin’ in my site” he says “word around our group is that you’re lovin’ your site.” geez.

all in all it could be worse. at least i don’t have people talking about what a slut i am, or which volunteers i’ve already slept with (which, unfortunately, happens more often than you’d even like to know....i think there is at least one person in our group who’s built up quite a reputation for herself already – and we’re only 5 months in!) and it’s not like the estancia is the place you should be going if you’re planning on hooking up with a bunch of people. there are always at least 5 other volunteers there whenever i go in and need to stay there. so everyone sees everyone, and everyone talks about everyone. which is why i don’t like going into san sal, and even more, staying at the estancia. not because i’m hooking up with people and need privacy for that, but because it’s just such a gossip pit, and other volunteers are always wanting to either talk about other volunteers, or wanting to ask you a million questions about other volunteers. no thanks, i already went to high school – and college. there are a few of us who loathe this whole high-school mentality thing, and i do my best to avoid it at all costs, and basically the only way to accomplish this is by staying in my site and keeping my visits to the estancia AND the office (which is almost as bad) to a minimum. so that’s what i’ve done. and people are STILL apparently talking about me! although, like i said before, it could be worse. but seriously, when i thought about the peace corps, i really didn’t expect this to be an issue.

it’s not hard for me to stay here though, because it’s just so damn awesome here! it’s been a lot warmer here – not as much wind, which has made it super pleasant. actually, though, march is supposed to be the hottest month of all…and i think i´m starting to feel it, even here. it´s been at least 90 degrees every day for a couple weeks, and although it gets cooler during the night, the thermometer goes right back up during the day. right now i´m sporting a sunburn AGAIN and it´s making me feel even more hot.

in the next entry i´ll tell you all about the work stuff i´ve been doing the past couple of weeks. it´s been awesome (i had a crappy february and beginning of march, but it´s been so much better) and although i am really nervous, i am going to talk at the next meeting in san jorge – which antonio has told me is going to have a lot of people in attendance. it´s next tuesday (the 21st). but whatever. i suppose it´s not going to be that bad.

more pictures below, like always.

adios for now….

a view of ataco from one of the cerros surrounding the town (guatemala is in the background, along with one of its volcanoes)

one of the pupuserias in ataco (not the one that i go to a lot though!)

remember when i went to chalatenango? well, the next few photos are from that trip. sorry about the crappy quality of the photos - this is what i was telling you about, why it`s better to have a digital camera here....i can´t believe how shitty these pictures look! they don´t do chalatenango justice! but whatever.... anyways - these are the two farmers i went out to cut frijoles (beans) with....felomon (on the left) and jose.

the guy who had a gun out in the bean field and was firing it off! he wanted me to take a photo of him and he made sure to make the gun visible (you probably can´t see it, but if you click on the photo i think you can make it bigger)

crappy photo of me cutting frijoles

me looking quite gorda (not gordita....gorda - well it was back in october, i suppose i was more gorda then because i certainly don´t look that gorda i??) with my host family in chalatenango

the grandfather in my host family in chalatenango and his friend

i just love goats! i always wanted a goat as a kid and my dad wouldn´t get me one....probably because my brother and i wouldn´t ever take care of the chickens or gather the eggs. he probably thinks he dodged a bullet all those years when i kept coming back from the fair pleading for him to get me a goat. anyway - these are two goats (of many) that the woman who cooked us rabbit (that i had been playing with the day before) had

this is elba´s son rigo

elba´s daughter paola

this crazy....and i mean crazy....look at it.....papaya tree behind the hostal