Thursday, November 01, 2007

goodbye mold!

thank god! it wasn´t as bad as last year, but i´ve still got moldy pillows, passport, crayons, blankets and clothes (but only the ones that i had in a bag). so out with the rain, in with the sun and wind. time to get out the moldy scarf and hat and brace myself for the windy days and nights. with the wind comes the dust in the house. it´s always something, huh!? but at least my clothes will get dry when i wash them.

well, you'll all be happy that i don't have a lot of time to write any long diatribes today. it's been a hectic couple of weeks. let's see, i went to up to courtney's pueblo a couple of weekends ago.....i needed to get out of apaneca for a couple of days. i'm sure you could tell that i was getting a bit down on everything what with the teachers and the school and all that. courtney's environmental committee was having a dinner to raise money, so we chilled at that. they served these huge plates of meat, chirmol, rice and tortillas and it was sooooo good! they also made these drinks and served them in bamboo stalks. it was like atole de maiz and then they put a bit of guaro in it....for only 50 cents! courtney and i were saying how in the states, or on some resort somewhere else, if they served that drink, it'd probably be like $9 or something because it'd be considered an "exotic drink" or something. and there we were sitting in the middle of the casa comunal in her pueblo drinking them for 50 cents.

this is what it´s like to live in el go to the tienda to get a green pepper and they put it in an old candy bag for you to carry home.

i came back for the week, which was interesting, despite there not being much to do at the school. it's the end of the year, so the kids are taking exams and not having real classes or anything. the teachers are pretty much phoning it in, so i just basically packed up all my stuff that was at the school and each day took a load of it home. i spent a lot of time hanging with niña domy who had the most interesting visitor at her house for the week. this old, old woman showed up on monday and niña domy told me her name was niña concha. she just kind of hung around and niña domy told me that niña concha's nuera (daughter-in-law) doesn't want her around. her daughter-in-law is the mother of three kids in our school....another one of these situations where before meeting this old lady, i liked her daughter-in-law. now i don't know what to think. apparently the daughter-in-law doesn't want niña concha around because she can't "do anything around the house" because she fell a couple of years ago and broke her arm and it never healed properly. niña concha lives in chalchuapa, but comes to san jorge to visit her son and daughter-in-law and grandchildren, but mostly she hangs out an niña domy's house (?????) because of the aforementioned dissing by her daughter-in-law. anyway, so i was having the most interesting time talking with her. she looked super old, but i figured since her son is the father of the kids in our school, i figured she couldn't be that old. so i asked her. she told me she was born in 1903!!!! she's 104 years old!!!! niña domy was even shocked, and then said that it's probably right because her son is probably in his 60's, even though he's the father of the kids in the school (there are lots of fathers here who are in their 60's (or more!) but have young kids). anyway, niña concha told me about how she used to walk to sonsonate and other places from apaneca, back before there were cars.......or roads. she was sooo funny too. she'd be real serious about something, but then would just bust out laughing. we were talking about how it was so cold at night and i said that my fingers, toes and nose are always cold and she thought it was the most hysterical thing that my nose would get cold. she'd like be in hysterics. it was sooo funny. anyway, i felt bad for her because i asked her how many kids she had and she said that she had 11 but 7 of them have died. her husband died 14 years ago. and part of the family that she does have here in san jorge just kind of brushes her aside. i think that's sad. but at least she has niña domy to come and hang out with.

niña concha

remember me telling you how the first graders love to read? here are two of them(mariela and jonathan) happy as can be.

anyway, this past saturday i was off again to molineros for sindy's 4th birthday fiesta. her mom went all out because sindy had never had a for-real fiesta for her birthday yet. antonio and i brought a hello kitty piñata (yes, we carried it all the way from apaneca on about four buses....well, i actually didn't carry it, i made antonio do that!) anyway, that was quite a party. i helped made sandwiches....which in el salvador, there is only one type of "sandwich" - it's a mixture of cooked cabbage, mayonnaise, chicken, carrots, green beans and a few other things - then you put that between two slices of bread and wrap it up in a napkin. they serve these at EVERY single birthday party. i've never NOT been served a "sandwich" at a birthday party. it's always served the same way too, wrapped up in a napkin. anyway, i must of sat there for two hours wrapping up these sandwiches in napkins with ana's friends, listening to them chambre. and i know that mixture of stuff that makes up the sandwich sounds gross, but ooooohhhh, it's soooo good! after we were done, ana gave me a huge plate of just the mixture and some tortillas and i was in heaven!

the sandwich filling

dayana helping put up decorations

before the party started....sindy in her cinderella getup with me, dayana and some grumpy girl

anyway, for the fiesta, i think ana invited all of molineros, as well as a couple of clowns. at one point i was standing there taking pictures of the kids getting ready to bust the piñatas and one of the clowns had to climb this ladder to put the rope up to hang the piñata from and he had on those big giant clown shoes and was struggling to get his feet to fit on the ladder's rungs and for like a minute i was like "seriously, where am i?" it's so weird how those feelings come for split seconds and you are apart from everything that is going on around you and then just like that, you're back in the midst of it. like sitting there making those sandwiches, it's hard not to think that that is not something that a 35 year old american would typically be doing, or something that i saw myself doing at the age of 35. but there i was, and it was completely normal.....for here anyways.

one of the clowns trying to climb the ladder

all the girls with their piñata

ok, so the girls were having trouble breaking the piñata so finally one of the clowns came and dragged me to break it. embarassing!

the boys´piñata....antonio finally had to break it. that other girl on the left is one of the volunteers currently living in molineros from the new group.....she was highly embarassed when i told the clowns to grab her to help break one of the piñatas.

sindy and her $80 cake.....her mom went all this was almost like a quinceañera!

so antonio and i stayed for the party and then later that night just the kids from ana's family (all the cousins) broke the hello kitty piñata. it was actually a really fun time, despite the fact that i was dead tired by the end of the night. right before i went to bed, ana was putting tomatoes in this crate and setting them on top of a few other crates in the middle of the t.v. room area. i asked her why and she told me she had to because the rats will get into the tomatoes if she doesn't. she then said that the week before she killed seven giant rats with tails about a foot long. so i had that to think about as i laid there in the pitch black trying to fall asleep. that and the bats flying around.

sindy and her cousins with our hello kitty piñata

back to apaneca on sunday and then on monday, i made my way up to metapán, santa ana, for the last full moon hike at bart's site up in the campo. we started off by heading over to a little waterfall/swimming hole near this big old haciena built back in the old spanish colonial days. apparently there was an old mill there in those days and there are still remnants of the structure, but nobody seems to be able to tell bart what exactly it was that they made there. anyway, the hacienda was really cool. it´s run down and some woman lives in it alone now.

the corredor in the back of the hacienda

so there´s all this beautiful old spanish architecture and then on one of the doors outside, there´s these pasted on the door...hee hee

the hike itself, later that night, was soooooo steep!! but it wasn't impossible or anything. it took us about 2 ½ hours or so to get to the top, where there was a house with bunks, a kitchen and a beautiful view waiting for us. we just hung out listening to bluegrass and drinking and eating chorizos and whatever other food we all brought and the next day enjoyed the view. courtney and i hiked down alone the next day because she was trying to make it back to her site that same day. it was quite peligroso trying to go down the steep road, and we both fell a lot, but nothing too serious. these full moon hikes really bring out the best of el salvador. there are always these amazing views where you're above all the noise and parts of el salvador that are ugly (markets filled with litter, buses emitting thick, black smoke, teachers who don't teach, etc.). whether on the beach or way up in the mountains it's hard to remember that we're in one of the most deforested and naturally-devastated countries in the world. (naturally-devastated? is that right? the right way to say it escapes me...i'm trying to say that the naturaleza is devastated.) anyway, el salvador really is just such a beautiful country.

the house we hiked up to and stayed in

orchids in bloom

view of lago güija, which borders guatemala

old man getting ready to haul his corn to another house

people often ask me what kinds of houses people live in out in the campo.....this is a fairly typical style of house. lots don´t even have the cement blocks...just lamina and plastic.

like this one....adobe and plastic sheeting

so now i'm back in apaneca. we're having a bit of a food crisis here right now....not so much that there's no food, but it's expensive. beans have gone up by 40 cents, corn's really expensive...last i heard it was $50 for a sack of corn. even pan dulce is more expensive. last night i went looking for tomatoes in the pueblo and i could only find one tomato in all of apaneca! i guess it's just too expensive to buy the vegetables. there is this one woman who has a tienda really close to my house, and i asked if she could get skim milk for me, so she does and the price is already higher than buying it in the supermarket - it's $1.10 in the super and she charges me $1.20, but it's worth it because i don't have to carry it all the way from ahuachapan. well, i bought some the other day and it was $1.25. i still bought it, but still. on monday, there is supposed to be a bus/microbus strike because diesel prices are sky high. the owners of the buses want to charge more for pasaje to make up for the extra money they have to pay for diesel, but the government is saying that they are not allowed to. every little cent here counts, and it adds up when everything goes up in price. people know how much eggs are supposed to cost, and if they're even one cent higher, they go looking for another place to buy eggs. eggs are supposed to be 12 cents each, but they are now 15 cents each. it's so weird how in the states we probably wouldn't even notice if something rose in price by 3 cents, but here it's news.

tomorrow's all soul's day. i'm headed for honduras on saturday, just for two days. then i'll be back here again for the final week of school, graduation the week after and then before i know it, the fiesta de patronales in apaneca. this year has absolutely flown by! i cannot believe that it is almost december already. i'll be home in december for my required 30-day leave, so it'll be nice to spend christmas stateside. my first since 2004!

that's all for now.....see ya when i get back from honduras! (oh no! not the lempira again!)