Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Pre-trip check in

I am still in San Jose. Dan Baker Day was a success. It will be nice to have an immediate supervisor again. Work-wise things are going well. Trying to get some stuff done between vacations. It's a tough, but I have nearly a month worth of days to take before June when I am no longer allowed to take vacation days. So... it must be done. :)

Tonight, or more specifically, tomorrow morning at 3am, Zoey, Maria and I are headed to El Salvador. I am really excited that they are going with me. We are all staying with Carlos. He gave me a quick rundown of our itinerary and it seems that the phrase "we'll sleep when we are dead" translates perfectly.

I went to the art museum today. It is in a building that used to be the airport. It is really pretty. It is not huge, it is not the DAM (Denver Art Museum), but it was nice. Although I was a little disapointed because they had advertised a special Rembrandt exibit which ended up being a special timeline of his life. It did not include any originals nor reproductions of his actual work. But, the other stuff was pretty cool and just the right amount of things to see that I didn't get kindergartner antsy before the end.

Anyhoo, I'll try to get a post in from El Sal!

Monday, March 26, 2007

It's a tough gig....

I am having a hard time keeping up with the blogs. Been running a lot lately. All this paseando (vacationing) is tough work! Dad, Carol and Dee Dee were here for a week. I saw them off on Friday. It was a lot of fun and quite an adventure navigating the cultural divides. But, we went fishing, ziplining, snorkling and even saw some dolphins. (Oh yea... there were monkeys too.) We even drug Dad and Carol kicking and screaming to a Japanese restaurant so I could get my sushi fix. It was really good, but I gotta say it is tough to switch between English, Spanish and Japanese. It was funky.

I was hostess for volunteers all weekend coupled with trying to get ready to go to El Salvador for a week. It is also Dan Baker Day on Tuesday so I am headed to San Jose. Then to El Sal on Thursday. Dan Baker Day, for those of you who do not yet have it marked on your calendars.... is the welcome party for our new program director.

Anyhoo... I had better get going. I have got some actual work to squeeze in between vacations!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Last Dance of Malcrianza

Okay... well, my AIDS presentations went very well. Or at least they ended on a very good note so that has rosied my recall of the disorder and chaos that they started out being. Overall, I am quite happy with the results. I was able to train two other volunteers also so that felt sustainable. Although I can't say that they were overwhelmingly effective as one of the girls kept unbuttoning her blouse and making eyes at Jacob, the male volunteer helping me out. And at the end of one of the presentations, a kid came up to me and said (to my breasts), "I know I don't look it, but I am 15 years old and I know what to do with a condom." I said, "well, I feel like my work here is done."

I spent the day Saturday in Jacob's site. He lives across the gulf in a small town called Jicaral. They were having their fiestas civicas or civil festivities whose main attraction was the last ride of a world(Tico)-famous man-killing bull called Malcrianza loosely translated as "Born to be Bad." Supposedly he has killed two men and is very vicious. So we packed into a little arena, and I do mean packed. We were sardines on wooden benches. It was not comfortable. The most exciting part of the evening was marveling at the natural consequences of a country without liability laws. The arena was not all that big to begin with, probably only about 30 yards across in any one spot, and there were about 20 spectators in the ring with the bull that would taunt it and then try to scurry up the fence as it came their way.

I have to say that the riding and roping styles were interesting. I consider myself to be a fair judge as I have been to a rodeo or two in my day. It was announced that the first rider would be riding in the "free hand" style, which means that he would be riding with both hands held in the air. I was pretty excited to see how this would be done as I have seen many a good rider not make eight seconds, even while holding on with at least one hand. He came out of the shoot, flopping around like a rag-doll, both hands in the air and I was amazed, until I saw that his feet were strapped to the bull. The purist in me insists that this is cheating. That was pretty much the end of the excitement. Many of the riders made the full eight seconds. Generally there would be 2-3 seconds of rough bucking followed by and equal amount of half-assed bucking and then the bull trying to get past the harrassment of the spectators to get back into the pen. Each "ride" was seperated by at least 20 minutes of what I assume to beintensive preparations, while the spectators shifted uncomfortably trying to keep their bums from sleeping.

The roping style was also quite distinct from that which I am used to seeing. I have to say that it was right online with the tico cultural trait of indirectness, but much more fun to watch. Although I didn't get to examine one upclose, the larriats looked to me slightly less rigid than american ones. The loop was huge, it looked like it was about 6-8 feet doubled, or nearly big enough to run it around the entire bull without touching it. To throw it, they would spin it on one side of the horse, flop it over and spin it on the other and then sort of lob it over the bull. Their accuracy wasn't 100% but it was really fun to watch. It was like the trick ropers that would spin their larriets around themselves and their horses.

Anyhoo, we left after the third bull and according to the Brittish woman that stuck out the entire thing, we missed very little, although ticos insisted that we missed the ride of the century and assured us that Malcrianza was surely possessed by some sort of evil spirit that would make him so blood-thirsty. I can't speak for the level of demonic possession, but I can imagine I would have been seeking blood if I had waited out the entire show. Of course, a seat cushion may have changed my outlook on the entire event.