Wednesday, December 27, 2006

El Salvador

I made it. Más o menos 20 hours in a bus and voila! Whole other country. Whole other world would probably be a better description. I am again finding that my vacations from my Peace Corps life seem more like what I thought my Peace Corps life would be like. It's kinda throwing me into a quandry.

Hope everyone had a good Christmas. Mine was very, very mellow. Carlos' family really doesn't celebrate x-mas with much fanfare, so we didn't do much of anything. They do their family thing on New Years so will have more to report later. We did distribute toys to the kids in the neighborhood so that was pretty cool. I got some pictures I will try to get posted soon. It was much harder to snap candids as they don't tend to get a lot of gringos here so I stuck out and the weird thing I kept pointing at people got a couple looks to. When I showed the kids the photos of themselves they burst into giggles, which was actually more foto worthy than the actual picture. The kids also loved the toys of course. Without a doubt they were the only ones they got this year.

Other than that I have been running around with my friend Carlos. The first night I was in town I helped him and some of his friends coordinate a romantic dinner to help him win back his girlfriend. Poor guy needed all the help he could get. It was looking to be hit or miss there for a while, but she was no match for the Mariachis. It was quite a show. Mission accomplished.

Last night I hung out with another friend, Alejandro, that I actually met on the bus ride the last time I came up here. He is actually one of the very, very few small business owners in El Salvador. He showed me around the city. San Salvador is a very interesting city. There are a number of architectually beautiful buildings and parks in the center but extroaordinarily bad government has buried them behind poverty and delinquincy. It's really a shame. There are also an incredible amount of Gringo stores. All the fast food, of course, but also a lot of malls and big name American stores. I actually saw a 9 West store. It is a very interesting place. The contrast between the haves and have nots is overwhelming. Hopefully one day El Sal will be able to reclaim their cultural landmarks and heritage.

Anyhoo... that's all I have to report for now. I am here until the 3rd. I am not sure I will be able to write before then. Internet is definately more challenging here. Hope everyone has a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

On my way....

I am in San Jose. I am headed to El Salvador on the bus at 3 a.m. I am hoping to stay awake until then so I can sleep as much as possible in a bus. I am already fading though so I don't know how well that plan is going to work.

Anyhoo.... Hope everyone has a Happy ChrismaKwanzaHannukka!

Monday, December 18, 2006


I have a new part-time roommate. It is a cat. I was going to say that I got a cat... but I didn't really get one. There was no effort whatsoever exerted in the aquisition, much like all my other critter roommates. It officially belongs to a neighbor but hangs out at my house. I decided to let it stay because I figured it may help fend off the rats. For those of you that have witnessed my apathy for animals this may be surprising. However, I have found that the cat and I have come to an mutual understanding of tolerance if, and only if, acknowledgement is unavoidable. The cat is also bi-lingual, meaning that it disregards me in English as well as Spanish. It has actually brought me some peace of mind in that I now can assure myself that it is just the cat making strange noises at night.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Semana de talleres

Wow! Where has time gone? I just finished up a whirl-wind week and things do not seem to be slowing down at all. I went to two workshops this week. The first one was about physical punishment for kids. It lasted two days and was a collosal waste of time, I kept having . But there were about 6 other fvolunteers fromt he vicinity that came into Puntarenas to share in the mind-numbing glory so we hung out at my house to recover. Priya, who is Indian-American made some incredible Chicken Curry for us at my house which made up for the fact that she broke my key off in my door that morning. All is forgiven. :)

The second workshop was with the local women's office and was about HIV/AIDS. It was a little crazy but night and day better than the first one. I made some good contacts for the workshop I am putting together for early March. So hopefully all will go well.

Yesterday, a fellow PCV, Brandon came down from Liberia with a friend that is visiting him. We took the Playa Naranjo Ferry (a.k.a. Booze Cruise) and had a great time living up the PCV lifestyle. Today is Friday and I spent the day trying to get caught up, if not ahead. I am headed to El Salvador on Wednesday to spend the holidays there. I will be back on the 3rd of January. Hopefully at some point I will have email access but communication is much more difficult there. My phone will also not be of any use so for those of you who call me from time to time (both of you) no need to bother for a while.

It was really an exhausting week. The family I hang out with in my barrio didn't see me at all and nearly sent out a search party. I wasn't even able to make my dance or exercize classes so I feel like a perezosa. I was able to get some work done but it feels like it was lost in the black-hole of downtime in captivity. Oh well.

I will be in San Jose on Tuesday so hopefully I will have time for one last post before I go.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Christmas Tamales

I spent most of last Friday afternoon making Christmas tomales with my "little old ladies" that I teach aerobics to. They were making them to sell and we ended up making about 200 tomales. They were so excited that I was helping them and learning to make tomales so that I could make them back in the states and/or for my Tico husband. They couldn't seem to decide which outcome they would rather see but had a great time debating the two.

It was a lot of fun and the tomales turned out ricisimo. Here's what I learned....

First you roast the banana leaves

Then you cook some stuff....

The tomales are masa (corn meal dough stuff), rice (no lack of carbs here), potatos, carrots, green peppers, pork, and chayote (a tropical vegitable) rolled in plantain leaves.

Then tied with love by little old ladies (Emphasis on the little, I don't think that either of them hit 5')

That's it!