Monday, August 14, 2006

después vacaciones

(wrote this sometime last week….just getting to posting it now!)

well, well, well.....i feel like vacaciones really hasn’t ended yet.

vacaciones started off by celebrating bessy’s birthday on the friday before (the 28th). actually, her birthday isn’t until december, but because nobody’s around in december because it’s summer vacation for the schools, we celebrated it now. so mirna and elba kept saying how we had to get a joke gift for bessy, so i told them i’d buy a pair of huge underwear the next time i went into ahuachapán. so i did that (which was totally embarrassing....i went to the super mercado and found a pair in there and got all the other stuff i needed and then went up to wait in line. there were like four cash registers open, three of them had women working them and one had a the only friggin’ guy in el salvador that works a cash register at the super mercado had to be there that day. anyway, i go stand in one of the women’s lines, even though there is nobody in the guy’s line, because seriously, it’s bad enough that i am the only american person – everyone stares at me anyway. but i knew that if i got in this guy’s line he would see that underwear and be like – what in god’s name??? anyway, so as i’m standing in line, this guy starts motioning that i should go in his line because there’s nobody there. and i pretend not to see him, instead staring at a hanging box of condoms [in new flavors!] hanging on the post in-between the registers, in the hopes that some other customer would see the no-waiting-in-line-opportunity and make the guy happy. but no, he comes out from behind the cash register and actually comes up to me and says that i can go in his line because nobody’s there. for god sakes. so i do, and it was just as i thought it would be. he got to the big, giant granny underwear and even though i was pretending to look for something in my bag, i could feel him looking at me like – man, these are some big underwear! totally embarrassing....) anyway, so i got bessy a normal gift too and all was fine. so i wrapped them both up and on friday a.m. antonio called me to see if i wanted to get pupusas in apaneca. i told him i was going to flores de eloisa with the teachers to celebrate bessy’s birthday, but that he should come too since he knows them all. so he said ok and came to the school that afternoon to meet up with us. so we go over there, and on the way i tell antonio that i have two presents for bessy and he can give her one of them since he didn’t have a present for her. he was all glad that he’d be able to give her something. but, of course, he had no idea that i was going to give him the giant underwear to give to her. ahhhh, it was sooooo funny when bessy opened them. not just because she was laughing at the giant underwear, but because antonio was totally embarrassed. hahaha. but it was all in good fun and we laughed so hard. and i got to eat apple pie! i’m sure i’ve written about flores de eloisa and jardin de celeste before....they’re these two really nice viveros that are owned by the same woman. flores de eloisa is actually in san jorge, off the carretera, and jardin de celeste is down the road a bit, more towards ataco. anyway, they have these really nice areas where you can sit and eat dinner or dessert or whatever. they have all these really cool artesenia stuff, wood carvings, candles, wind chimes, stuff like that. and then they have cabañas too. anyway, so that was that.

anyway, megan and anna came to visit me the next day for the weekend. megan hadn’t been here before, so it was cool to show her the town. i think it’s funny when people come to visit me for the first time because they’re always shocked at how cold it gets here at night. at first they’re like “oh, it’s so nice to feel cold!” and then after a while they say “man, it really is cold here....” like the novelty of it has worn off. haha. i always end up lending my fleece jackets to people for the night because they are totally unprepared for the temperatures here, especially at night. anyway, we had a great time and ate tons of food in apaneca and juayua. on sunday morning, antonio came over and we all ate quesadilla on the back porch of the hostal. megan and anna thought maybe they’d try to walk to juayua that morning on their way back to their sites. they wanted to get minutas (these things that are kind of like snow cones, but taken to the sweetest extreme by putting honey and leche and other confections on them) again. they kept asking me to go with them, but i was like “i’m not sure if i want to walk to juayua.” it’s like 12 kilometers (7 ½ miles) and it’s all along the highway. i ended up going with them, and let me tell you, it wasn’t that easy – even though most all of it was downhill. and don’t go thinking i made the trip back on foot. no, after eating more food in juayua and saying goodbye to megan and anna, i hopped on the bus and rode, with much more appreciation for the buses than i ever had before, back to apaneca.

i didn’t have much time because i told antonio i’d meet him in ataco because he was going to take me to a soccer game in ahuachapán. it was a pre-season game between ahuachapán’s team, once municipal, and santa ana’s team - metapán. so we went to the stadium there in ahuachapán and i had a really great time. it was so simple and non-cluttered with the things you find at sporting events in the states. no food vendors (well, there was one guy who had an ice cream cart), no cheerleaders, no huge scoreboard, nothing. just a field, the players, the refs, the coaches, the fans and a couple of cruz rojo people on the sidelines. to know the score, you had to be paying attention to the game – which wasn’t hard for me as i enjoyed watching the game. my favorite player on once municipal is this truly ugly guy (he’s got red hair and is losing most of it) from uruguay who can play some damn good soccer. anyway, once municipal won 2-1 and that was that.

anyway, the next day (monday) i went into san salvador. my main reason was to get checked to make sure i wasn’t still infested w/ parasites, or worse, something new and different. i was also meeting up with anna and megan to go see pirates of the caribbean so i had that to look forward too. how is it that johnny depp is still some kind of good lookin’ even as a pirate? seriously? anyway, when i saw megan at the office she told me that she and our other friend lisa got robbed near the estancia the night before. some dudes just walked up and started feeling them up and taking their stuff and that was that. there was really nothing they could do. totally sucks. but at least they were ok. so i went off to the lab and then later we all hooked up to go see the movie. the next day i had to run some errands, get some copies from the office and stuff like that. anna and i ate lunch and i was like “i really don’t want to go back to apaneca right now.” she agreed that she didn’t feel like going back to her site, so i suggested we check out lago coatepeque. it’s this big lake in santa ana – it’s on our side of the country, so it wouldn’t be that big of a deal to just hop on over there for a little side trip. so we got on the bus headed for santa ana and in-between asking people on the bus where to go and text messaging other volunteers, we found our way there. it was amazing! the lake is super clean! we found the hostal that most backpackers stay at and because it was a tuesday, there was only one other guy staying there. there was a canoe there that we could use, so we decided we’d do that. only thing is, because it was a spur of the moment decision, i had nothing to go out in the water shorts, no extra t-shirt. so i asked the woman who owns the place if she had an extra pair of shorts and she’s said yeah, and brings me these really super hip and fashionable guys pierre cardin swimming trunks that were about a size too small for me. yep. and because my standards of what i’ll go out in public wearing have seriously been lowered since being here, i slipped those shorts on and was a happy camper. so we asked for the paddles for the canoe and the woman gives us these paddles that are clearly NOT for a canoe. but whatever. so we go out to the dock and there’s this group of salvadorans just sitting there, staring at us as we are unloading this canoe from the dock. they are saying these stupid things in english like “can we go with you” and “have a nice trip!” ugh. so we get out in the water and it’s super tranquilo and just awesome to be away from everything. we jumped out of the canoe and swam for forever and just hung out in the water. it was so cool because we were on the other side of the santa ana volcano and the view of the surrounding mountains and other volcanoes was just awesome. after a while we headed back in and ate some food at some random pupuseria then came back and just read magazines and chilled out.

the next day we headed to santa ana to catch our buses, but before we did that we wanted to get ice cream. so we’re walking down the street in santa ana and my friggin’ flip-flop breaks. i’m like – seriously? and you know, you can’t really walk in a broken flip-flop. so i take off the other one and am walking barefoot down the street, laughing my butt off but i was pissed because those flip-flops were reefs, man. those are supposed to be way good quality! i suppose it may have had something to do with the fact that i walked from apaneca to juayua in them that sunday before with anna and megan. ugh. so i had to go into this store and buy this random pair of flip-flops for like $1.00 and i was like – whatever, they fit. so we get ice cream and then head back to the bus terminal and get on our buses – me to ahuachapán, anna to sonsonate. and i sit down and my feet are killing me and i look at them and i’ve already got blisters on them from the classy, well-made flip-flops i bought like a half hour before. WTF? anyway – i get back to ahuachapán and then get on the bus for apaneca and the hostal. what a trip.

the rest of the week was spent here in apaneca. thursday i went to visit antonio’s sister because she was on vacaciones too (antonio still had to work) and ended up hanging there for the whole afternoon. antonio’s mom cooked me some good dinner and i went home with a happy stomach that night. the next day i hiked laguna las ninfas with antonio. he had to go there for work and told me that i could go along with him so i wouldn’t be bored at the hostal. so we did that – he only had to go to three houses, but we were gone the entire day. we hiked around and went on some different trails that i had not been on before and it was so cool because it was kind of stormy and the sky had these really eerie layers to it. the clouds were surrounding all the cerros and looking out over the landscape it was really green and peaceful, but then the clouds were this mixture of dark gray and white and it was like it was this blanket about to lay down on the ground – like you know when you were little and you’d go to bed and your mom would shake the sheets and blankets in the air so they’d float down on you? that’s what it reminded me of. totally cool. then we went over to this one side of cerro las ninfas and it was all white because the clouds had moved in. i’m lucky to live in an area where there’s actual “bosques nebulosos” (cloudforests). they’re soooo beautiful! anyway, like i said, we hiked around for a while, then it rained on us and my feet got soaked and at first i was like – this sucks. but then i kept thinking, it’s just water. and my feet will be fine. and it’s a friday and i’m not in an office typing away or dealing with some bullshit from some boss that needs something done rightthisveryminute because his or her client is a egotistical prick who likes making people run around and do things even if they really aren’t necessary. know what i mean? i think this a lot actually. like, a couple of years ago on an august 4th, i’d have been sitting in an office doing the very thing i just described. but instead, now, i’m up in this mountain, hiking around, leisurely taking pictures and getting to actually see what goes on in the forest while the rest of the western world is in offices, talking on cell phones and drinking frappuccinos. it’s fucking awesome! so the fact that it rained for a little bit and my shoes and pants got soaked from walking through the grass in the laguna was totally fine. and with this fourth hike to laguna las ninfas, i’ve decided that it’s really my favorite place here. i mean, i love going to the beach and i’ve liked seeing other places in the country, but laguna las ninfas is absolutely my favorite place to be. it’s so tranquilo and i never get tired of seeing the same things again. the colors there are so vivid, even when it’s raining. and i can’t even begin to describe the wildlife there. every time i go i see at least ten different kinds of butterflies than i had the previous time. the trees are enormous and magnificent and just absolutely beautiful. it’s really my favorite place in the country.

anyway, so the week ended with hanging out in ataco and apaneca – where there was a food fair because of vacaciones. and so you guessed it, i ate lots and lots of food! oh, and i forgot, i watched some bruce lee movies back to back and now i’m hooked! seriously! those movies are so unbelievably cheesy that they are impossible not to like. the voiceovers are priceless. people here love the action films.....they love steven segal movies. no, i’m not kidding. they LOVE steven segal movies. they love arnold schwarzenegger movies. and i can’t forget about how much they like sylvester stallone. and they really like their bruce lee movies. it cracks me up when they say the actors’ names too, because of course, they don’t have the pronunciation right. and antonio likes the bruce lee flicks and i told him i watched some bruce lee movies and he was telling me which bruce lee movies he likes and when he says bruce lee he says it like “bruseh lee.” it’s so funny. and then he was asking me if bruce was a chinese name or an english one and i was like “i’m pretty sure it’s an english name, but i could be wrong.” then i told him my dad’s middle name is “lee” and he was like “really?” like he was so impressed, like i had told him my dad’s name was steven segal or sylvester stallone. ahhhh....seriously, it doesn’t get any better than this.

bessy opening one of her presents, which was, of all things, a hello kitty lamp. huh? this was NOT the gift i got her.

bessy in her new underwear!

another fabulous view...hahaha.