03 February 2009

Update

So as most of you know, I went home for Christmas. It was great to be home – to see all my family and friends and just hang out. I went up to San Francisco with my mom and brother Matt – that was super fun. We went to my mom’s Work Christmas Party and we went to an amazing suchi place and jazz concert and did some shopping.



After Christmas, my whole family – mom, dad, Aaron, Feather (Aaron’s girlfriend), Matt, Drew, Sam and my Uncle Bill – came down to El Salvador for a week. It was SO much fun. The first day was just Aaron, Feather, Bill and I. We went to the art museum, did some shopping at the Artisan Market and went to dinner. The next day the rest of my family came down and we headed to La Union where we rented a house on the beach – Playa Maculis. The house and the beach were beautiful. The house wasn’t a mansion or anything, but it was very typical and comfortable. We hung out on the beach, ate lots of yummy seafood. One day we went into La Union with my Peace Corps friend Devon and also to the small and very cute pueblo Conchagua. We bought a bunch of fireworks and Alfredo came out to the beach as well for New Year´s. We lit off all the fireworks, made a bonfire and watched all the crazy local kids light off firecrackers and almost burn themselves. It was so much fun and I’m really glad that my family was able to meet Alfredo, which went over pretty well. On the last day we went to my old community, Isla de Mendez, to free some baby turtles and hang out with my friends. I was so happy that my family was able to meet all of the people who are important to me here. We hung out with my host family, my grandma and with Alfredo´s family. It was great!







At the end of January, my Peace Corps group had our Close of Service conference where they explain all the stuff we have to do before finishing as a volunteer and about what to expect upon our return, how to get jobs, etc. It was the first time in a year that we had all gotten together, so that was super fun – just catching up with everyone and seeing what their plans were. We had the conference at the beach which was fun.







Other than that, on the 18th of January the mayoral and legislative elections were held and the FMLN, or leftist party – won the majority of mayoral office and legislative positions. Now we just await the results of the more important presidential elections in March.





I also had a co-worker and friend die in January which was really hard on me and on my other co-workers. She was a promoter of Red Solidaria, the program I am working with right now and she was such a very friendly and funny person always telling jokes. She helped celebrate my birthday in November along with the other promoters. It’s been hard without her there, but we can only remember the good times that we shared.

María Luz is the girl in the middle.






Other than that not much is new. I hope to visit more with some of my Peace Corps friends before we all finish and continue my job search. Hope all is well at home with our new president – YAY!

16 December 2008

At last I updated my blog

I know I haven’t updated in a million years so here is a summary of what’s been going on in the last three months:

September:

With the youth group from my old community – Isla de Mendez – we hosted a turtle vigil and invited other youth from the region and community leaders. In total there were a little over 100 people. We all went to the beach for the night and searched for turtles coming out of the water to lay their eggs. We split up about 15 km of the beach into five sections and each section had a group of people that were to keep watch for the turtles. I was the leader of one group and in the first hours we didn’t find any turtles, but I finally spotted one coming out of the water and we helped it up the beach and watched it lay its eggs. Once the turtle has laid all of its eggs we gather up the eggs to take them to the turtle incubation hatchery where they are incubated for up to 45 days until they hatch. The vigil was a HUGE success. In all we collected over 600 eggs. It’s one of the most successful turtle vigils that the community has ever seen. It was really exciting!



At the end of the month I went to the states for Chelsay and Kevin’s wedding. It was so much fun to hang out with them and go to their wedding….I caught the bouquet. HEHE. I also got to spend time in Cincinnati with friends…it was a great time.


October:

September and October were the rainiest months. In my new site it rained every single day. Not always during the day (thank god) but every night. It was pretty bad and there was a ton of flooding. But I didn’t get washed away…luckily.

October was full of work with Red Solidaria: observing the trainings that the promoters give to the families, going to meetings, the events where the families receive their monthly bonuses, and at the end of the month I helped give some of the trainings to the families because one of the promoters resigned.


One weekend in October I also went with a volunteer friend of mine to a small pueblo in the mountains called Ataco. We ate tacos in Ataco (haha…) Anyways, this region is known for its flower nurseries and a lot of the hotels have flower nurseries on the grounds. We stayed in a small cabin, which was so beautiful. Simple but really beautiful, with beautiful gardens and a small café that served breakfast and lunch. We checked out the pueblo that is known for its artisan crafts including handmade candles and lambs wool materials.
We did some shopping and checked out the central park, the Catholic church and a small art gallery that presented Salvadoran painters. The pueblo is calm and artsy and very friendly. One day we also did a hike to a lagoon…the lagoon is called laguna verde (or green lagoon)…but it totally was green. There is a picture of the lagoon in the Lonely Planet guide book and it looks beautiful so my friend and I were really excited to see it, but compared to the photo is was a huge disappointment; but it was still pretty and the hike was nice.

November:


The first week of November I participated in a youth camp in Lago Coatepeque – the crater lake of the largest and still active volcano in the country. The camp was organized by a group of 12 students from the American School in San Salvador. Five volunteers including myself and about 40 youth from all over the country participated.
It was super fun. I brought four youth from my old community and we had a blast. We tye-dyed shirts, had a talents show, the students from the American School gave charlas on trash management, planning your future, decision making, self-esteem and communication. It was a great experience for the youth and fun for me as well.

Lately, I have been going frequently to a community that is called San Pedro. It is at the bottom of a huge valley where there is no water (only a river), no electricity, no streets and no basic services. The kids have to walk between 30 minutes and 2 hours to get to school and many walk to school without shoes. It is definitely the poorest community that I visit. The teachers at the school are great and have to hike down this huge cliff every day to get to the school to teach. It takes about an hour to walk down. So I had an idea to do a Shoe Drive at Mary Star High School to collect shoes for the kids in the community. We’ll see how the collection goes and in January, when the new school year starts, we’ll go to distribute the shoes.










I had a super special birthday. I told the promoters from the municipality of Jicalapa (I get along with them the best) that we should have a small little party at the beach cuz I was going to be my birthday. One of the promoters, Gloria, found us a house on the beach to have the party at and all the others chipped in to make the lunch – carne asada y chorizo con arroz. I made a cake and bought a piñata. It was so much fun. Alfredo, my boyfriend, drove out from Usulutan to surprise me for my birthday and to meet all my friends here. The house where we had the party was absolutely BEAUTIFUL!!! I felt like I was at an Italian villa on the Mediterranean. The house, which is painted all white with blue doors and window shutters, is perched on a small cliff over looking the ocean. The property has its own small private beach, which is like a little cove that has caves and rocks. It was such a beautiful birthday. We all had a great time!












For Thanksgiving I got together with a group of six other volunteers at a hotel on the beach and we made a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner! I made the turkey which turned out superb. We also made stuffing, carrots, beet salad, corn-on-the-cob, mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, deviled eggs and chocolate pie. We ate our Thanksgiving dinner overlooking the ocean and a beautiful sunset. It was perfect.






The last weekend of November is the biggest party in all of El Salvador. Carnaval in San Miguel – the second biggest city in the country. The month of November they celebrate their patron saint and the last Saturday of the month they have Carnaval, which is the second biggest Carnival in all of Latin America outside of Brasil. The parade is the best in the country (in my opinion) and throughout the city they have live music playing of all different genres. I went with Alfredo, his cousin and a friend of ours. We hung out in the area of reggaeton, where the biggest international stars from Puerto Rico were. It was fun and a little crazy!

Other than that, work is the same as always. We are planning a trash campaign in one community and hoping to do more in other communities as well. The youth group from Mendez just started a Hammock Workshop so that is exciting, because we have been planning the workshop since April. I’m looking forward to going home for Christmas and to having my family down here for the New Year!

On December 7th, the youth group from Mendez started the Painting Workshop which we solicited from the Ministry of the Exterior and is being taught by a famous Salvadoran painter. The teacher is great and we had a fun time in the class. I think it will be really inspiring and enlightening for these kids that don’t really have any background in art.

One week my best friend Tania, from Mendez, came to Teotepeque with me to spend the week and to get to know some of my friends here. One day we went to San Pedro, the poor little community a the bottom of a valley. We walked so so much but had a great time.





And the last weekend before I went home for Christmas, Alfredo and I went to Ilobasco, an artisan town where they make all kinds of ceramic art. I bought some cool stuff and we also went to San Sebastian, where they make the cloth hammocks. It was a great trip.

And finally….pictures of the pueblo Teotepeque.