Last Wednesday, I headed to Tegucigalpa, Honduras for yet another conference for language teachers at the Universidad Pedagógica Nacional Francisco Morazán. I presented on blogging in the language classroom again. Other than that, though, it was a fairly eventful trip.
I had to pay my first bribe to police ever, for not having a fire extinguisher and the organge triangle things in my car. Our conversation went something like this:
Police guy: "Do you have all the tools you need to repair your car with you?"
Me: "Yeah, they're in the back."
Police guy: "Show me."
I get out of the car and show him the spare and the jack.
Police guy: "Where's your fire extinguisher?"
Me: "What fire extinguisher?"
Police guy: "What will you do if your car's on fire?"
Me: "Run the other way and hope it doesn't explode."
Police guy: "What about a cone or triangle? What will you do if you get a flat?"
Me: "Change the tire on the side of the road."
Police guy: "What if the car stops in the middle of the road? How will you get the traffic to stop?"
And so on. I was thinking, 'the traffice wouldn't stop even if my car was blocking the whole road, so what does it matter if I have a traffic cone?! They'd just run me over! And isn't it dangerous to carry a fire extinguisher in the car...couldn't it explode?!' He threatened to take my liscence from me, which didn't matter much to me, since I have my US liscence, too. And then asked for money.
I just about threw my back out again carrying my laptop around on Friday, which meant I didn't get to go to the cloud forest on Saturday, which was disappointing. I did go to Valle de Angeles, a cute little town maybe 45 minutes from the capital. I think I visited at least eight grocery stores in Tegus looking for various foreign food products that I haven't been able to find in San Sal: canned pumpkin for November, various Thai spices and sauces, and so on. Tasty soy milk. Water chestnuts. Bamboo shoots. Yum yum. All the countries I've visited this year have a much much much better grocery selection compared to El Salvador, which means I come back with pickled chilis instead of souvenirs in my suitcase.
The weekend ended with another trip to Ojojona, which has a fabulous climate and more cute things to buy that I'm not sure how I'd ever pack to take home. I bought an anafre for 40 lempiras (next to nothing). You put hot coals in the bottom half to melt cheese or beans on top for a tasty snack. There was a stop in Santa Ana for pupusas (yes, Salvadorans, pupusas are just about as popular in parts of Honduras as they are in El Salvador, and they're just as tasty).
On the way back, I took a wrong turn (not my fault, wasn't marked) and ended up in Choluteca, not far from the border with Nicaragua. Oops! Even with all the random craziness, I still really like Honduras. Besides the groceries, the people are wonderful and the culture has some of the aspects that I'm still missing from life in Caribbean Colombia. Just the music in itself made me want to stay for a while longer...
Monday, May 28, 2007
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Not many countries have an edible national flower, but El Salvador happens to be one of them. Izote, which is a type of yucca, provides tasty goodness in pupusas or with scrambled eggs. Beyond that, I don't think they're used for much, but they sure are pretty!
Monday, May 21, 2007
Some of my favorite places so far in El Salvador are on what's known as la ruta de las flores. This Saturday, I went to Juayua to eat at the weekend food festival, and then on to Apaneca to visit another waterfall, close to a hotel appropriately called La Cascada. It's started to rain again, so there were actually some flowers on the roadside this time. I also saw a monkey that was not in a cage, a first for my time in El Salvador. It was hanging out in a tree on the path down to the waterfall. It's too bad that the country has been completely stripped of its vegetation for the most part; I can't even imagine what it must have been like here a hundred years ago, or even fifty. About 4:30 the fog started to roll in. San Miguel is such a drastic change from these places!
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Los Cobanos, located in the western part of the country in the department of Sonsonate, was the first beach I was at this week. This one was actually for "work"; there was a Fulbrighters conference there at a resort called Los Veranderos. The beach was not so nice...small, lots of rocks, pieces of jellyfish, etc. Back in the fall, the resort had built a breakwater, which proceeded to damage the reef there.
El Espino, located in the deparment of Usulutan, is supposedly the most beautiful beach in El Salvador (at least according to my Let's Go book). It was certainly pretty, but I think what I enjoyed most is that it wasn't crowded.