Monday, May 08, 2006

turtle shells, parades, mashed potatoes and brown gorillas

so has anybody heard the new pearl jam album yet? if so, how is it? gone to any shows? actually, i really don´t want to talk about´s just too depressing. moving on.....

so the other night antonio and i went to the pupuseria in apaneca that i like the best: it has fantastic curtido (whether or not i like a pupuseria is not only highly dependent on how much i like the curtido, but whether or not it looks like it was made within the past two’d be surprised at what passes for curtido. seriously.); they serve chocolate con leche (which is basically hot chocolate); and the family that runs it is pretty cool. antonio knows the old dude that owns it (and the shoe store next door) so every time we go in there antonio says “don michel!” kind of like how people would say “norm!” on cheers. anyway, we ate and everything was cool and when we were done i went up to pay. when i came back to the table antonio was holding what i thought was a turtle shell. and i thought “i’m crazy, why would antonio be holding a turtle shell?” but i wasn’t crazy. antonio WAS holding a turtle shell. i was like “what are you doing with that?” and he’s like “i found it on the ground.” i mean, this was a big turtle shell – not like galapagos turtle size, but like the size of a salad plate or something. so i thought maybe it was just something don michel had in the back and his grandson (who’s always playing and crawling around the floor) brought it into the pupuseria or whatever. but then i realized that it wasn’t just a turtle’s shell, but it was a live turtle that was all hidden inside the shell. so i’m asking antonio “why is that even in here?” and he’s like “la entró la pupuseria” which translates to “it entered the pupuseria.” i gave him this look like “well, no shit it entered the pupuseria.” but seriously. a turtle?? i can understand dogs, cats, mice, rats, bats, every insect you could imagine, birds, lizards....but a turtle? it’s not like we were on the beach eating at some crab shack or something and some turtle just wandered on in. we were in friggin’ apaneca, a pueblo....not really near anywhere where a turtle would take a wrong turn and end up in a pupuseria. so i said “that’s kind of cool” and i took it from him to look at it closely. then i handed it back to him and was like “i always thought it would be cool to have a turtle” so antonio tries to put the turtle in my bag. seriously? what planet am i on right now? i was like “what are you doing?” and he just laughed and then put it back on the floor. ????? i guess basically anything goes here. maybe i shouldn’t have been that surprised. one night at this same pupuseria i looked over and there were two rabbits hanging out eating cucumbers under this bench on the other side of the room. i wasn’t really surprised by the fact that rabbits were hanging around because i’ve seen people have rabbits for pets and stuff back in the states. (i’m sure these rabbits ended up being dinner for don michel’s family because i haven’t seen the rabbits in a while.) anyway, what was funny about the whole rabbit thing was that at one point don michel’s dog was running through the pupuseria and started harassing the rabbits and provoking them. they could’ve cared less. don michel’s dog is one of those small dogs that likes to bark at everything and get in fights – totally NOT tranquilo. anyway, i was thinking – “i can’t believe i’m sitting here right now.” like it’s just a complete circus pretty much every time you go anywhere here. you can expect anything and everything to happen, yet it still surprises me when things like the turtle event happen.

so i was in a parade on friday! it wasn’t anything huge, just a parade for the parvularia (kindergarten) classes in the schools in the apaneca area. i was helping bessy because the other teachers had to teach at the school. she didn’t really need my help though because all the kids’ moms were there. we left from in front of the catholic church in apaneca and basically each school just followed one another and the procession was led by about 8 kids in 9th grade or something playing drums. so we went around apaneca and i was surprised at how many people i knew who were standing watching the was kind of cool. anyway, the parade ended at the park in front of the mercado and everyone stood in front of the gazebo and some dude talked about how great the parvularias are and the parents and the kids and all that. then they sang the national anthem which i know the melody to, but not the words. then one kid got up on stage and gave a little rendition of some poem and it was sooo cute. then one of the kids from our school, marlon, was next up and he gave a rendition of another poem. marlon is great – he’s always talking my ear off. and i think it’s cool that a friggin’ kindergarten kid could get up there and recite something like that. anyway, when that was finished all the kids/parents/teachers from all the schools left apaneca and everyone reunited in san jorge where the kids competed in games – things like mini-obstacle course races and throwing colored soccer balls in the appropriate-colored baskets. i had an awesome time! it was so fun, plus i got to interact with more people from the area, not to mention the parents of the kindergarten kids in our school. our school is super small, but we have a football cancha which not every school has. in fact, the football cancha in apaneca is being used right now for temporary housing for people who got their houses destroyed during hurricane stan last november. so apaneca doesn’t even have a field. so anyway, after all the games were over everyone left and i went back up to the school.

kids getting ready to start the parade

marlon...he got up there with no problems and recited the passage about being in school.

a view of our school´s football cancha and the games they had set up

this kid doesn´t go to our school, but i had to take a pic of him...his facial expression is totally priceless.

this is eli, the old computer teacher at my school, and bessy - the kindergarten teacher. eli now has a job in san salvador and comes back to san jorge like 3 days out of the week.

i´ve posted a picture of heidi and her mom, maribel before. i think heidi´s one of the cutest babies ever. she´s seriously like a little doll.

so after the fun-n-games, i was walking up into the school to say hi to elba and mirna, and elba yelled at me from the kitchen to go in there. so i did and she showed me this huge pan of mashed potatoes. see, elba had this great idea at the beginning of the week that she was going to do this fantastic trade with some other school. you would have thought she was the owner of a major league baseball team who had devised trading the guy on her team with the lowest batting average in exchange for ted williams the way she was going on and on about how great this trade would be. i have to admit though, that for me, this trade sounded pretty fabulous. here’s what the plan was: each school is part of some kind of world food program, and with our program, we get rice from countries like italy and france and then the kids eat that for refrigerio. moms come in once in the morning and once in the afternoon and make these huge pans of rice and the kids eat plates of it for refrigerio. so elba had this idea that she was going to trade some of our rice for some mashed potato mixes from another school which apparently gets mashed potatoes from other countries instead of rice. so that was basically it. so anyway, they delivered two boxes of these huge mashed potatoes mixes on thursday and i told elba this was some kind of dream come true for me. mashed potatoes! i hadn’t had mashed potatoes since that crazy christmas dinner we made at emily’s site back in december. i truly love mashed potatoes. so anyway, on friday when i returned to the school elba had this big pan of mashed potatoes that she was showing me and my eyes got as big as saucers and i immediately got myself a plate and took as much as i could. but elba was upset because apparently the kids didn’t like the mashed potatoes when they got their plates of them for refrigerio. i should’ve known because back at christmas when emily was giving her salvadoran neighbors some of our christmas dinner, they just didn’t like the mashed potatoes. and when we had our family fiesta during training, one of the trainers at the center said we should stay away from making traditional u.s. thanksgiving food (b/c the date of the family fiesta was near thanksgiving) for the families because they really don’t like the food – especially mashed potatoes. whatever. i think they’re all crazy for not liking them. elba loves them and when bessy came into the kitchen they both started sticking their fingers in the pan and eating the potatoes. anyway, i ate so many plates of mashed potatoes that day that i could barely move around 3:00 pm. elba decided that she would give some of the mashed potato packets to families who were super poor – but i’m thinking that they’re probably going to think it’s some kind of cruel joke because they don’t even like mashed potatoes. i think a better idea would just be to save the potatoes for me. seriously. i could switch from pupusas to mashed potatoes for a couple weeks!

mashed potatoes! appetizing, huh? it seems like all the food here always looks unappetizing, but always tastes unbelievably good.

elba and bessy

my friend courtney visited me this weekend and we had a great time. juayua was celebrating it’s 100 year birthday so we went to the market and hung out there on saturday. we perused nearly every vendor in the market and towards the end of the day courtney was looking at sandals and i glanced over and saw the most hilarious thing. this:

i was like – i have to have that! there was only one and if you really look at it, it looks like something someone had lying around their house. they probably decided to put a coat of brown paint on it and see what fool in the market would pay money for it. well that fool was me. it’s actually a bank, and i was bummed out when i was looking at it because if i do put money in it, i have to break it to get the money out. and i almost didn’t buy it because i was like – seriously, do i need this? but after a while the answer to that question was a certifiable “yes.” so i bought it and now it’s in my cuarto and looks completely out of place.

anyway, on sunday antonio, courtney and i went and hiked laguna las ninfas and it was super cloudy, and when we were in the forest it was actually kind of spooky because it was almost dark at like 10:00 in the morning. but it cleared up as we hiked above the laguna so we were able to take some cool photos. we ended up taking a different path back than i had been on before, so it was nice to see different parts of the laguna. with this hike courtney and i were trying to get ourselves a little prepared because on friday we are going up to another volunteer’s (kate’s) site in northern santa ana. kate got hooked up (even better than i did) on her site location. she’s all the way up in parque montecristo, which is on the el salvador, honduras and guatemalan border. a bunch of us are meeting up there on friday and are going to leave for a hike at like 9:00 at night because there is going to be a full moon that night somewhere around 2:30 am. but apparently the hike is super hard and is gonna take something like 6 hours. so it’s probably going to be similar to the volcano hike back in november. plus, there’s a likely chance that it’ll rain too – it being the beginning of the rainy season and all. i have to admit, i’m not looking forward to making my lungs work overtime or getting drenched, but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience and i’m not gonna pass that up. plus, i think with all this hiking i’ve been doing here in my site, i’m that much more prepared than i was when i hiked the volcano. plus, kate’s site is supposed to be beyootiful, so i’m really looking forward to going up there.

a hongo (mushroom) that was growing in the middle of the trail in laguna las ninfas

a view of laguna las ninfas from a trail above the laguna

me and courtney on the trail at the laguna

one of the trails through the forest surrounding the laguna

anyway, that’s about it for now.....i´m going to go pout about pearl jam being on tour and having a new album out while i´m here in el salvador.