Wow, what a week this has been. I have been to a local school as part of a group presenting on the importance of International Women's Day. I went to a youth festival where youth who are part of a program that provides training in theatre, dance and juggling performed and I went to a women's festival to celebrate International Women'd Day. I also had my first bout of gastro-intestinal issues and spent one day in bed and one day recouperating.
There is so much that I am learning about and thinking about every day it is very hard to narrow down my thoughts for the blog this week. In general, as I am in my third week, life is settling down into a bit of a routine and I am learning to do more and more basic tasks. This week, when I was sick, it was bit of issue that I didn't have a working cell phone and it caused some additional stress for those who are helping me. In order to prevent this from happening again, on the weekend Jenny, Jonathan and I went to a mall and I bought a cell phone...which interestingly I couldn't have done without Jenny or Jonathan. Everyone in El Salvador has ID called a DUI which is needed for a number of financial transactions of which buying a cell phone is one. Jonathan programmed in all the cell numbers for the people who are important parts of my Salvadorian life and in the list put in "mi numero" (my number) so that I would always be able to find it! Of course, he laughed through the whole process, but nonetheless everyone is happy to know that I am know reachable...sort of because I don't think I'd recognize my ring at the moment!
This week, I have also been to Santa Marta, the most rural part of the area that ADES serves and is the primary focus of the work of ADES. Santa Marta is also the poorest area that I have seen. I will write a lot more about Santa Marta in the upcoming weeks because it is a very interesting place. About half of my work team lives there. There is a lot that has been done right there in terms of development and it is a community where everyone seems to be engaged in the process. But there are a number of serious challenges including water, nutrition and violence against women. Certainly by comparison, my life in Guacotecti (Guaco) is luxurious.
Life in Guaco...
Guaco is a small village of about 1000 people that contains a few very, very small stores a couple of restaurants and a Catholic Church. Our house is on the edge and so while we are in a "neighbourhood" sort of, it is all undeveloped land behind us. As I mentioned there are 4 of us who share the house, although there are 6 bedrooms. One bedroom appears to be a storage area of sorts and the extra bedroom is occasionally used by people who are working very late and can't get back to their homes in other cities or towns.
The front of the house, reminds me of a cottage. It is one big room with a cooking area with a fridge and stove, a sitting area and a large kitchen table. There is also an attached garage which is used occasionally when one of the roommates brings home a car from the office. (ADES has a fleet of vehicles as no one has a personal car and there are always groups of people and equipment that need to be transported). From this area you go through another door and you are in the back part of the house. One one side is 4 bedrooms (mine is the 3rd one down) and on the other side is a bedroom, the wet area and another bedroom. In the photo, taken facing the kitchen area, my door and window (which are both metal and close securely) is the one at the front of the photo. As you will notice, the house is nicely painted and tiled. The middle is open to the sky. In the picture of the wet area, you will notice two stalls...one is a regular toilet (for which I am very grateful) and the other is a shower stall. Although there is a shower head, it doesn't work. Adjacent to the shower staff is a cement holding tank. There is a tap that fills this with non-potable water. The water looks very clean and is cool but not cold. The shower stall is open to the holding tank and so when I shower, I dip a plastic basin into the water in the holding area and shower that way. I like to shower in the evening as I am often a bit dusty and sweaty and I find the water cool and refreshing. My housemates all shower in the morning, but I find the water a bit cold at that time of day, so I just wet my hair! Since I have not yet mastered cooking, I wash a lot of the dishes. This is done by putting water the in the red and blue buckets on the ground. One is for washing and one is for rinsing. There is a dish rack on the far left of the picture. The washing water is emptied down the storm drain in the area between the bedrooms and wet area. Handwashing is done by dipping the basin into the holding tank, washing your hands and then emptying the basin down the drain in the shower. I brush my teeth by spitting into the toilet, but my roommates generally prefer using the storm drain. The fact that there is a sewer system makes this house very high end for this area!