Monday, September 03, 2007

translations and explanations

saturday after our reunión general with the community, i was asked by don wilfredo's daughter to help her with her english homework. this consisted of writing down the lyrics to an english song and then learning how to pronounce the words. i asked her what song she picked and no surprise here, she picked a michael jackson song. i asked her what song it was and she handed me this sheet of notebook paper that had what was supposed to be the lyrics to the song. it started off with "chu-chu-chu" and i racked my brain trying to think of what michael jackson song starts off like that. then i started to read the other lyrics and it's like they were written in j.r. tolkien's elvish. i read everything and nowhere in all of the words she had written down was one english word, or spanish one for that matter! anyway, i went with her to her house and she put in the michael jackson cd and played the song and it turned out to be "billie jean." i should have known this since all salvadorans seem to love this specific michael jackson song, but i for the life of me could not recognize the "words" on the page and/or match them to the actual lyrics to the song. anyways, so today i spent about 30 minutes writing down the lyrics to billie jean, and i confess, i had to look them up on the internet because i really didn't have any idea what half of the words to the song really were until i wrote them down today. i only really knew the part about "people always told me be careful what you do, etc." and "billie jean is not my lover, etc." what a happy song this is! i don't even know if i understand it all....he's been accused of getting this hot girl pregnant, and either it's a lie or it's true...the girl has a photo the baby and as it turns out, it looks like him, and then the girl goes and tells his current girlfriend that they "danced on the floor in the round." his mom also tells him to be careful what he does because sometimes "the lie becomes the truth." so is it true or not? did he really get that young girl pregnant or was it all just a lie and he's living in a dream world thinking it all didn't happen? i don't care, really. i just thought i'd re-play this little part of my day. how would one even begin to translate this into spanish? i suppose i could just say ¨well, for example, there was a salvadoran guy and he had a girlfriend....¨ and she´d figure out what happened just based on that bit of information. i know that´s generalizing the salvadoran male population, but it´s the sad story for probably 85% (or more) of couples here. anyways.

random things like this aren't out of the ordinary, as i've documented several times in this blog. i was stopped on the road the other day by this kid who doesn't go to our school but lives in san jorge. here's how this conversation went:

kid: "are you from the united states?"
me: "yes i am."
kid: "do you have any los tigres del norte videos?"
me: "um, no."
kid: "ok. bye."

i was like "what?" los tigres del norte is this ranchera band from mexico that everyone who is latin american loves. i think the members of the band live in the united states (that would explain the ¨el norte¨ in their name, right? duh.), and their songs are considered to be "narcocorridos," which basically means their songs are stories about illegal immigrants and drug traffickers and bandits and events that really took place. there was a CSI episode i remember watching once about narcocorridos. they must have gotten the idea from los tigres. narcocorridos are kind of like folk songs, but not really...i guess the rhythm of the songs has this latin folk song beat and accordians, so they really do sound ¨folky.¨ i've seen some of their videos on the buses here, and they don't look anything like the tough themes that narcocorrido lyrics follow, if you ask me. the videos all have the same cheesy 80's feel to them, soft lighting, woman with permed and feathered mullet-like hair, getting mad at one of the singers in the band and leaving him and then him looking confused like he has no idea why she's pissed off. then they get back together of course, but sometimes they don't. i suppose ranchera's like country music in that the themes are practically the same: woman and man together, man cheats, woman leaves, man and woman get back together again (or some other variation of the same thing).

salvadorans also like techno-type music and sometimes they'll play videos on the bus of dj music and i always wonder what salvadorans are thinking when they see these videos.....the dj with an enormous pair of headphones on, pumping his arm in the air behind a set of sound boards and a turntable and the crowd dancing like they're fish jumping out of the water with flourescent lights in their hands. like what are these little old salvadoran ladies thinking when they see this? probably that the world has gone crazy and oh well, that's life, dios es amor and there's maíz to be taken to the molino.

so here's my little explanation of the whole "going home" thing. i know, i know....i said i wasn't going to go home. well, i've decided to try and extend my service for a third year and so i was thinking i could use all my vacation days i had saved up for travel during my third year. i asked my boss about doing this and he suggested i not save any days. the reason for this is because if i don't get approved by washington to extend a third year, i will have lost all those vacation days. and i had to use them before september because we are not allowed to go on vacation our last three months of service. so, while technically, if i do get approved to stay another year, my last three months really won't be september, october and november of THIS year, but of 2008, i decided (with the help of my parents) to use my unused vacation days to come home for three weeks in august. i didn't have any money to travel anywhere in central america and i have to admit, i was looking forward to seeing everyone at home, even if i wasn't looking forward to actually "being" back in the united states.

it was a nice trip, although i really could have done without the sweltering heat. three weeks sounds like a long time, but in reality, it went by in a flash. before i knew it i was boarding the plane for el pulgarcito (the affectionate nickname for el salvador which means "little thumb" as in the little thumb of central america). anyway, i ate salad every day while i was at home (not having to ride the bus for 40 minutes to go and get lettuce was soooo nice), and i got to see the detroit tigers play (and sadly, lose). i got to live like a queen because my mom had everything all ready for me...all the food i liked, etc. i got to eat bbq at my parents' house and after eating bbq i got to sleep soundly all through the night without having to be woken up at 2:30 a.m. by chuchos howling in unison or at 5:00 a.m. by roosters. i got to go to bookstores!!!! i had almost forgotten they existed! i got to see all my friends and their kids who are growing up so super fast. i got to eat at the winking lizard in cleveland and get re-introduced to 22 oz. labatt's blue special. i got to see mr. biggs, my beloved cat, who's living large at my friend eric's large in fact that he only half-remembered me and kind of looked at me with this "i know what you did leaving me here, and even though i'm not complaining and life is good, i'm still holding it against you." i got to see my family and got to be a passenger in my great-aunt dorothy's humungous el camino while aunt dorothy herself (who's 87 years old) was at the wheel. that woman knows how to live a full and happy life, let me tell ya. i got to see a meteor shower out on a ferry boat in the middle of lake erie. so as you can see, how could i have not had a good time (minus the heat...did i mention the heat already?).

so now i am back in el salvador and getting ready for my cos conference (ugh) this week. supposedly i'll find out if i've been approved to stay another year a couple weeks after the conference. until then, we'll be celebrating independence day on the 15th and not much else, thank goodness.

here are 32 random photos to peruse. ¡disfrútenlos! until the next fiesta.......

this was back in june at the father´s day fiesta the comité threw for the padres of the community. the guys sitting here are all members of the ADESCO (our nemisis, but only in secret). we invited the members of the ADESCO out of respect, and so they wouldn´t think we were doing things behind their back. lotta good that did us.....they still kind of snub us, except for salvador and carlos (the two guys on the left, they´re brothers and salvador´s my neighbor and they´re super nice). we gave away prizes to all the fathers over 50 years old and also had a raffle for a cell phone and we used the money for our trash pickup expenses.

more from the día del padre fiesta

i think it´s so weird how the people separate themselves into groups of men and women....this is also at the father´s day event and the women all chose to sit in this little area

back to school....i have been putting up environmental information on one of the outside walls that the teachers let me use for an environmental board. this time i had the 5th and 6th graders make pictures of ¨como proteger el medio ambiente¨ (how to protect the environment) and so here they are with their drawings and giving their talks of what they drew. this one is ¨when you cut down trees, plant more trees in their places.¨

don´t cut down plants or flowers

don´t kill animals


ok, this is from the day of painting and planting (the day when i almost strangled everyone on the comité for leaving all that trash.) but that aside, we did get some work done. here are some kids who came to help painting the fence around the school.

some of the trees we planted along the main road

maria laura´s sister, marielos (maria laura´s the kindergarten teacher in my school), and her new husband pablo and their parents. this was a rare elegant salvadoran wedding, but the cost was under $1,000 for everything....honeymoon included.

first graders working on making trees for ¨día del árbol¨

first graders with the book we read aloud for día del árbol

4th graders working on an activity i had them do about food chains. i did a charla on what happens when one animal becomes it can throw off the entire food chain. so then they made food chains.

osvaldo with his hawk> snake > mouse > cricket > plants food chain, and miguel with his shark > seal > big fish > little fish > plankton/animals > plankton/plants food chain

and on to courtney´s full moon hike. york and kate doing jigs.

courtney and me having photo pranking fun with a passed-out antonio. 4:00 a.m. was waaaay past his bedtime.

view of volcán chichontepec (in san vicente) from the mountain we hiked at courtney´s site way up in chalatenango.

home again...jenny and mary on the boat where we watched the meteor shower.

tigertown, man it felt good to be there!

the latest full moon, down on the beach. here, bart makes like a crazy man.

courtney hauling ¨firewood,¨ which on the beach is palm leaves and bark.

the core...almost (mark is passed out on the ground next to kate and bart).

my birthday cake! the teachers gave it to me early because i won´t be around on my actual birthday which falls smack dab in the middle of our cos conference.

the long and winding road, up to laguna verde. antonio and i hiked it early, early sunday morning solely for the exercise (all that american food made me return to semi-gorda status).

beautiful laguna verde

road art, or, as i like to say, another salvadoran´s trash