Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Wow, a Harper Majority and Other Things

I'm in a bit of shock...I knew it could happen, but really hoped it wouldn't.  This morning I came into the office, turned on my computer and learned about the election results in Canada.  I feel a lot like I did when Mike Harris won his second term as a hard line majority Conservative Government in Ontario.  I just know that this is not a good result for the people that I work with in Canada.  There is not going to be more support or care for people who are vulnerable, poor or marginalized in our country.  It is probably fair to say that there is not going to be any increases in foreign aid money -- at least the kind of foreign aid that I would be interested in supporting.  I don't really know what else to say about this...

I thought for today's blog, I'd forgo a theme and just share little bits and pieces about life here.  This month I am going to working with the team that works with the formal education system and the team that works on water issues.  After my first meeting with the education team yesterday, there are many important issues that will be topics of serious blogs ahead so I thought I'd keep this one a little bit lighter!
Cross decorated with fruit, vegetables, flowers and paper decorations for the Day of the Cross.

Today, May 3rd is the Dia de la Cruz.  This is a day that marks the end of the harvest season, just before the start of the rainy season.  This is a specially constructed cross at our office.  As I walked around Guacotecti on  my lunch break, I saw a lot of other similarly decorated crosses.  I am told that we will also be celebrating by eating beans for dinner tonight.  I don't yet know why that is the traditional food for today.

As you know, I am working hard to learn Spanish, to adapt to a new culture and to learn about life in a much more rural setting than I have ever experienced and sometimes there are bumps in the road.  About a month ago I attended a meeting of the "economia local" team as they were brainstorming some ideas for their next work plan.  One of the ideas is the creation of a "demonstration project" where they were grow many different types of produce.  It became clear to me that this team had a huge fascination with apples as beside every product (carrots, pineapples, onion etc.) was a notation about apples.  While they are eaten here, apples are not grown here.  I thought that the team was going to start an apple farm but needed to grow other things while the apple trees took time to mature into fruit bearing trees.  I learned this week that "manzana" the word for apple, is also an term of land measurement slightly smaller than an acre.  Turns out the team has no plans for apples but rather was estimating the amount of land they needed!  Oops sometimes when you think you understand, you don't!

In much of El Salvador, animals (mostly cows and chickens) just roam.  My question was this, how does a person keep track of their livestock?  Apparently,  it is instinctive for the animals to return to their home every night.  Like us they look  for their own bed...who knew??? The livestock herds are small enough that the individual homeowner knows all of his or her stock.  Also,  on the livestock theme, people here are concerned about the steroids and other chemicals in their meat, so if you come to El Salvador, you want to eat "Pollo India" a type of chicken that is raised without drugs.

At first I really wondered about the use of the "pila" (the cement holding basin for water).  If you can just turn on the tap and re-fill the "pila" why fill it all?  The answer is this, there is not always water.  Often at our house in Guacotecti, there is only running water one or two days per week.  With the pila filled we can easily wash ourselves, the dishes and do other cleaning.   You can pour water down the toilet and it flushes without there actually being water and pressure...once again something new for me.  We have bottled water for drinking.  Last Monday the pila got filled up.  There was not water the rest of the week and with 6 of us in the house, we used about 3/4 of the water in the pila last week.  Yesterday I turned the tap on and there was only a very small flow of water coming out.

Probably left up to me, I'd have spent night looking at the pila and the tap trying to will more water to come out at a faster rate.  Instead, my house mates made a fabulous dinner  of cream of carrot and other vegetable soup with a bit of curry, scrambled eggs with chopped up green beans and fried plantains with cinnamon.  Of all the great food I have had here, I think Alex's fried plantains last night was the most delicious food I have ever eaten!  Then we played cards.   

As you may recall, I am the only person in my household who showers in the evening, everyone else showers in the morning.  Last night I started asking questions about whether the process for bathing changes when there is not a lot  of water as I didn't want to overuse a scarce resource.  It became clear that while everyone in the house was aware of the situation, I was the only one who was actually concerned about it.  The answer came back that, was that there is some water coming out of the tap so it will probably all be okay.  I bathed quickly last night and we went to bed with the tap on.   After more than 12 hours of filling, the pila is now about 1/2 full.  I am sure that there is a valuable life and theological lesson in this about what we chose to worry about and what we trust will all work out.   Here, so far, mostly things do work out and when it doesn't people deal with it.

A cow and her calves wandering the streets near my house in Guacotecti.

A chicken on the road near the ADES office.


  1. Hi Lynn:

    Keeping in touch and letting you know I'm following your blogs. Interesting comments about their justice/court system - Easter celebration, great meal your housemates made.
    We finally got some SUN - tress are budding, tulips are up - it's Spring and really great to enjoy the fresh air again.

    Vess has invited her neighbour to join us for our monthly dinners. I've met her at different functions - she worked at Sears. Tomorrow we're going to Turtle Jacks at Mapleview - the 4 of us. Her name has slipped my mind - senior moment.


  2. Hello Lynn,

    How are you?

    This blog is impressive, I will take a further look on Wednesday morning.


  3. hey lynn, i'm buried in the making of report cards and needed to procrastinate. i realized that i'd fallen out of the habit of reading your blog.it was a pleasure to reconnect and to learn and experience alongside you. i appreciate your openness and your vulnerability. your sense of humour isn't half bad either. as always,thanks for sharing your journey. m