Happy International Women's Day - Tuesday March 8th! I am part of a team that works with groups of women in order to improve their lives and promote their rights. So as you can imagine, this is a really big day here. All morning staff are coming in to our office to offer congratulations and their are lots of hugs! I may need to import this custom for National Housing Day! There is a week of events. I'll write more about all of this next week.
So I have been in El Salvador for slightly more than a week and things are poco a poco (little by little) becoming clearer to me. Every day brings new experiences and new knowledge. It is all very, very good and as I keep saying everyone is very kind and very nice. I believe that there is yoga at lunch today. I'll let you know more about that next week as well!
On Thursday and Friday of last week we had an all ADES staff event called campamento. In Spanish this means "camp". As some of you know, I am not really an outdoorsy kind of gal and I was a bit concerned about these two days. However, it turned out to be a wonderfully fun and enjoyable event. When we arrived at the Boy Scout camp, in the mountains of El Salvador, we were divided into teams. Each team then had to pitch tents. It appeared that even with detailed instructions of one of the Scout Leaders, my team had significant difficulties in pitching our tents. As I watched this unfold, I settled down and knew that I was on exactly the right team! Interestingly, I was likely the only person out of the nearly 60 people there that did not have a cell phone. I think this will soon be rectified as Jenny does not want me to be out and about by myself without one! Even in the mountains of El Salvador everyone was texting and calling...incredible to me!
During one of the activities we were blindfolded. In the beginning we did activities in a line with our hands on the shoulders of the person ahead of us. Then we were separated and I began to feel a bit anxious because I didn't understand the instructions in Spanish and I couldn't watch and follow my teammates. Then someone came to me and whispered in broken English what I was to do. That is actually about how things are going here...when I start to feel really anxious someone speaks to me or something changes and it is all okay.
At a couple of points during the campamento I stopped and looked at the mountains, trees, and the sun and thought, wow, I am really in El Salvador, doing team building exercises with a really fun, kind and passionate group of people. How cool is that! At night I looked up at the stars and as one of my friends reminded me this week, I thought about all of you looking at the same stars from Canada!
I have been reminded that as part of my "privilege" of travelling with a Canadian passport, I can travel. When I arrived in El Salvador, I was vague on the details of who I was going to be staying with and why. The man at Immigration just stamped my passport and said okay. There are a number of people at ADES who have tried to visit Canada, but the Canadian government won't issue them a Visa and apparently it is an expensive process. I need to learn more about this and I'm sure that I'll write more about in future blogs.
So I thought that I'd share with you a little bit about my surroundings. During the weekends I stay in a small townhouse in a gated complex in San Martin, one of 9 municipios that comprise the city of San Salvador. In many ways the townhouse and the complex looks similar to those in Canada, except their are a few difference. For example, the windows have louvered glass with pretty iron work grills, but no screens. So far that has not been an issue as there are relatively few bugs. Also the house is made of concrete blocks and so it is hard to put things on the walls. There are no closets in the bedrooms, or cupboards under the sink in the bathroom or in the kitchen. This leads to very creative storage solutions. Jenny has a washing machine (a big luxury) that is located on the small patio in the backyard. Clothes are hung on a line to dry. I think some of you likely knew this but I had a revelation...I suddenly understood the ironing...when clothes are hung on line and then folded the wrinkles don't hang out! Today for the first time in 20 years I ironed my t-shirt before going to work!
Attached are three photos...one of the exterior of the townhouse, one of my bedroom and one of my "Salvadorian Family" - Nelson (Jenny's Boyfriend), Jenny and Jonathan (Jenny's son).