Thursday, November 17, 2011

Caught by Surprise

Today, I thought I would share with you a number of things that have surprised me recently.

  • The first being, this is my 50th blog post!!!  Who ever would have thought that I would be able to write that many and that you would continue reading them.  Many thanks to my friend Cheryl and her husband who patiently helped me to set it up, when I could barely turn on my new computer!  In terms of my techie accomplishments, I have started texting using my cell phone. Yesterday I learned how to make capital letters!
  • This past week, I was pleased to be able to host my family here in El Salvador.  I was amazed at how open everyone was to trying new things and foods.  In particular I was amazed by the kids and their willingness to explore a new culture.  My family decided that they really liked liche fruit and queso duro (hard cheese that is a very popular food here.  
Lichi fruit.  Peel off the shell and grape like fruit with a pit awaits the eater!
  • What a nervous wreck I was before the outings with my family.  I have not "arranged" things for a while and I found this stressful.   I always very nervous when I know that I am going to have to rely on my level of Spanish.  Everything went really well and we had lovely van drivers.  Javier coped with my Spanish and Jimmy spoke a lot of English and this helped a lot!  Collectively we visited downtown San Salvador (the Cathedral and the crypt of Oscar Romero), Cuscatlan Park - where the kids all bought a plastic bird thing that were huge hits, Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad (CIS) and their fair trade gift shop (where I happy to report that my family did its share to support artisans in El Salvador!) and had a lunch on the San Salvador volcano.  We did another trip to ADES and a trip to Joya de Ceran (an archeological site where a volcano eruption covered up a village around 500 AD).
My family on the porch of my house in Guactecti.
(L-R) Karen, Rachel, Aunt Betty, Marty, Cindy, Marty, Aunt Susan and Uncle Bruce  

  • The warm welcome that the staff at ADES made for my family.  I wasn't surprised by the warmth of the welcome, but rather by the form.  The Executive Director, Antonio Pacheco made a speech welcoming my family and the ADES staff sang a traditional El Salvadorian song.  Staff from ADES including Jenny and Jonathan made a traditional meal that included chicken, carrots, broccoli, a zucchini like vegetable and yucca, casamiento (beans and rice), queso duro and of course tortillas.  My family all agreed that the lunch at ADES was a highlight of the trip.  
Lunch at ADES

  • At how little common language kids need in order to play together.  Rachel (4) seemed to make friends wherever she went.  She and little girls who only spoke Spanish would smile, hold hands and run together.
Rachel and Alyssa (the daughter of an ADES colleague)

  • By the surprise that ADES staff have at the generosity of my friends and family.  Collectively we have raised $2000 for flood relief.  This is a long way from the $25 000 they estimated that they need for emergency food relief, but it is a good start.  Thanks to everyone who contributed.
A wash out road bridge due to the floods. 

  • How sharing a simple lunch with friends after the skyped church service was the perfect ending to a moving and emotional experience.  On November 6th, with the techie help of Steve Lichti in Canada and Lissette and Ignatio here in El Salvador, I was able to participate via Skype in the service at my home church in Waterloo.  I skyped from the Internet Cafe where Lissette works.  After the service, Ignatio's Mom arrived with lunch and I was invited to partake.  It was so great to end my time with my Westminister folks by doing here what I do there, enjoy lunch and conversation with friends.  
  • My joy at finding an American volunteer who is as outraged as I am about all of things that happen in El Salvador and the complicity of our countries in allowing and assisting it all to happen.  Generally the response of foreigners seems to fall into 2 categories, one of a vague disconnection to it all or the other, an acceptance of the fact that this is the way it is.  Carl and I are both still naive enough to believe that our countries can do better and so we are angered by the stupid, ridiculous and myopic decisions of our governments.  Our latest issue has to do with the American government's refusal to work with the Minister of Security.  It is rumoured that this contributed to him submitting his resignation this week.  The Minister was part of the rebel group during the war and is named as one of the participants in the killing of 4 American Marines at a sidewalk cafe in San Salvador during the Civil War.  I am not condoning this action in any way.  However, let us consider that the United States spent over a million a day arming and training the Army and National Guard during the brutal 12 year civil war.  The Salvadorians have forgiven a lot, perhaps it is time for the American Government to do so too.  

Rachel, Karen and I

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