Monday, June 30, 2008

Honeymoon in Roatan

After it finally occurred to me to ask Marjorie, who lived in Roatan for a while, where to stay, we finally found affordable options that weren't for backpackers. I'd gotten to the point with package deals where I figured it'd be better to save and take a trip sometime later, but Edwin had already asked for the vacation days. In the end, we got a deal on the flights for about $212 a piece on Taca, and found a decent place to stay that was only $55 a night instead of the $140 or so most of the places in West Bay are. That meant we could stay four nights instead of two and have a direct flight back to San Sal on Sunday. And....I didn't want to leave. Roatan was great!

We didn't really do anything special, just rented a moto and got sunburnt. But it was awesome. I forget sometimes how small Central America really is. It was only a forty minute flight from Roatan back to El Salvador on Sunday, from the Caribbean to the Pacific.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The (first) wedding weekend

So, I am now officially civilly married in El Salvador! We signed the papers Saturday morning at 10 in the CCSA board room, which ended up being a little awkward in many ways, but some of that we didn't find out until later. We walked in and I was a little confused because no one was around, I mean no one, which is not at all normal for a Saturday morning there. Come to find out they'd been planning some food and all for us, but then one of my co-workers found out her partner had
passed away minutes before we got there. Hence the sad looks on the few people's faces that were still there, but I didn't find out until Monday.

So, we signed along with the two testigos, Josue and Consuelo, went to buy shirts for Sunday's El Salvador-Panama game, and headed off to Suchitoto to take a ride around the lake. I'd never really wanted to go there before since Suchitoto is always hot to the point that I feel sick
afterwards, but I gave in. The lake, Suchitlan (Suchitoto + Cuscatlan according to our lovely guide Jose, and as dubbed by the famous Mr. Coto), is actually man-made reservoir of types. It was created in 1973 , and you can still see the remains of the haciendas and cantones that were covered by the lake. Quite interesting. It's also home for many types of birds.

Sunday afternoon we headed to the stadium. It was my first soccer game since I left Colombia two years ago, so I was excited. We saw one of my ex-ILEA students, so I got to introduce Edwin as "my esposo" for the first time. We got soaked in the rain, but El Salvador won 3-1. It was semi-worth the $40 tickets, but made me miss Barranquilla and Junior. At least I got a nasty wet kiss in the ear from the very drunk guy sitting in front of us!

Wednesday we'll be off to Roatan for a last-minute, semi-planned honeymoon!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Parque El Boquerón

Last week the new Parque El Boquerón opened. El Boquerón is the most visible crater of the San Salvador volcano (there's also the Picacho and Jabali peaks which are remnants). I've wanted to go for a while, but the piece of the road that goes up to the crater was not so nice and rather dangerous up until now. You still can't walk all the way around the rim without a guide, so I was a little disappointed, but it was nice to be outdoors anyways. Yensy and I had fun buying veggies and some really strange-looking raspberries, and the atol de elote that I've been wanting for so long. It's a good thing we went a bit early though, since around 11 lots of people starting coming in.

You can also read more about the park in the Diario de Hoy's article.

Random Thoughts

On Professional Clothing:

When looking for an interview suit about two months ago, Edwin and I came to the following conclusion: there aren't many places here that sell professional clothing for women. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised; female newscasters and tv reporters here sometimes look like they're dressed up to go to a club. It really hit me when we started looking for a suit for him, though. In Siman (local "nice" department store), I can get the equivalent of a suit from K-mart or Wal-mart, or at the very best, Kohl's, for maybe two to three times the price. But for men's suits in Siman, there you have some choices. Why is it like this? Even though it might not be true, there are many more men in power positions here than woman. So, women don't need nice suits, since apparently they aren't professionals.

On Things that I Haven't Done Here:

I was going through my email yesterday looking for info to fill out some forms when I came across a email from one of my grad school professors. There's a group of students here from UC this week on a study tour focusing on human rights and economic justice. Out of curiosity I was looking at their schedule, and realized that there's some things that I haven't done since I've been here, such as visiting Romero's tomb and the rose gardens at UCA. Have I been that engrossed in work? Maybe. Not with other people that would want to do those things? Possible, but then I should have gone myself. This brings me to another nice as study tours, mission trips, and vacations are, it's never the same as living someplace. I wonder if I would have come back to El Salvador had I gone on the study tour offered by UC in 2002 with CRISPAZ. What else have I been missing out on? My experience is very different than that of a Peace Corps volunteer (still glad that I chose AmeriCorps over Peace Corps by the way, although I think I might like to try someday). Why haven't I read more about El Salvador's history? Or asked people more? I was a bit surprised when a volunteer in Chinameca told me that the war is still a huge topic of conversation for people in his community. In San Sal, I hear people mention bits and pieces, here and there, but the only one who's ever really told me his story has been Edwin. I feel like that's my fault, especially since it still affects people and the way they live their daily lives.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Gas Prices

This is the gas station on the corner of Los Heroes and Los Sisimiles in San Salvador on Friday afternoon. I had to fill up this afternoon, since the gas light came on right when I left work, and it had gone up to $4.60. Fun times.
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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Six Days

I'm almost at the end of my "real" working time (a.k.a the time in which they pay me and I have health insurance) here in El Salvador. I've been at CCSA for almost two years in the ELF program, and am not sure how I feel about ending my time with them. I've certainly learned a lot about teaching and teacher training, curriculum, diplomacy, grant writing, and of course, Salvadoran culture. There are certainly many things that I'll miss when I move on this September to the Colombo Americano in Manizales, Colombia through the ELF program, but I think I'm ready to move on to something new. As an ELF, I've done so many different things and haven't done a great job of documenting any of them. I was thinking about that on the way to Paraiso del Osorio for a mobile library event today. Sometimes I feel like I could have done so much more in the past twenty months than I've actually accomplished. And that there's so much more left to do and so much more to learn here! I'm not going to have any problem "volunteering" the two months I'll have in El Sal where I don't have to work. In the end, it's always difficult to leave a job and a place that you're used to. It's hard to think that I'll be getting married, and then have to leave. I figured I'd find a decent job here in El Salvador for another year, but it just didn't happen. And really, I'm excited to move back to what was my favorite city in Colombia! And be able to walk outside again, and go to cultural events, and drink gooooooooood coffee! And go to the hot springs!

I'm not going to miss driving in San Sal, or the $4.60 a gallon it is now for gas, or really even San Sal itself. Will miss being able to find salsa tobasco whenever I want it and going to Office Depot. And my gatito of course, since I don't think he can go with me, at least not at first. And living close to the beach. I think I could go on and on...

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Parque Nacional Montecristo

Edwin, Jonathan, myself, and some others from CCSA headed to Parque Nacional Montecristo for the labor day holiday. It took a long time to get there and we didn't stay very long, but I'd like to go back to hike and camp if I can find the time. The park is close to Metapán in the department of Santa Ana, and sits right on the Guatemalan and Honduran borders. It's a cloud forest, but it was nice and sunny the day we went and I don't think we actually got into the cloud forest part anyways. We did get to see the famous arbol de amor (love tree)...see if you can figure out why it's called that from the picture.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Planning a Wedding in El Salvador

The date is coming close for the civil part of my wedding (June 21), and I've still got a lot to learn about the whole process of getting married. The "real" wedding a.k.a the party is not until November, but the problem is I'll be going back to Colombia in September for work. This adds just a little bit of stress I'm not very traditional even by US standards, so getting what I want here has been a blast so far. There's a lot of people trying to tell me to do this and that, but not much luck so far in finding what we'd (okay make that I'd since Edwin is even less picky than me) really like to have. I've got a stack of bride magazines, some from here, with awesome articles about the "first night" (pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeee, salvadoreños that write these articles, that's not very practical for people here). Maybe the women, but definitely not the men. All the dresses look like cake icing, which I'm really not into. And no, I don't want a cola (train) as long as Thalia's. If I thought I could get away with it, I'd only send invitations through email and facebook.

Anyways, this is all I really want from my wedding:
  1. live music,
  2. drinks and food (in that order),
  3. a beach (this is a hard one since salvadoreños don't seem to get married on the beach much),
  4. not to be broke at the end,
  5. not to be stressed to the point I get sick.
I really don't think I'm asking for that much. I've been to many places that swear they'll send me quotes for prices, which never happens. Prices at hotels on the beaches that are semi-close by are ridiculous in general. Eloping would be so much easier. I'm sad because I really don't have the time to change my name because of changing countries again. I'm pretty sure the passport wouldn't be ready in time, especially since I'll be leaving El Salvador, going to Ohio, going back to El Salvador, back to Ohio, to Colombia, then back to El Salvador. Not at all complicated. In addition, I'd have to change my IDs in three different countries, tax info, bank accounts, credit cards, services...I'd rather not. I'll do it some day when I know I'm not going to be changing continents every 10 months!

In light of all the fun I've had trying to find someplace to make my dress that won't charge me $500 and trying to find a place to have the wedding, I'm going to start posting the places that I've had luck with.

Off to look for more ranchos in La Libertad...anyone know of any good ones that could hold up to 150 people and that are right on the beach?