Friday, March 30, 2012

Leaving Early

On January 20th, we were told that we had to leave Peace Corps early. We were supposed to leave mid-September, but now we are being forced out April 30th. Peace Corps has recently decided that Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador are very dangerous countries and their tactics regarding work and volunteering need to be changed. So, no new volunteers are coming to El Salvador, the group that was supposed to leave in March is leaving 6 weeks early, and we are leaving about 6 months early. It was very upsetting because I haven't not been in my new site for that long and I'm really enjoying it. I have possibilities of doing some great things, but my time has been shortened, so now it won't be possible.

This time is also very hard for Peace Corps staff because they don't know what the future holds for them in regards to the continuation of Peace Corps in El Salvador. The Honduran volunteers were pulled out almost immediately because it was deemed too dangerous. We are lucky and have been able to stay while they implement changes, but the staff and everyone else, is so unsure of what the future holds.

Well, we recently found out that the office is being moved out of San Salvador, which will be hard for many staff members, and Peace Corps will only be working in the northern part of the country. That means that no one will be coming to my beautiful, wonderful site. Its a shame because the people are so great there and there are so many possibilities. Everyone is sad about it - but hopefully in the future, El Salvador will be more stable and have volunteers in more areas.

Backtracking to Christmas

So, its been forever since I've written, so I'll start back in December. I went home for Christmas - which was great! I loved being home in the cold and snow and BAKING! It was great to see my family as well.

So, I got off the plane and we went to the Hot Springs! Oh, it was so lovely. I must say if I don't live in the west when I'm older, I'm going to truly miss the hot springs. We went home and had a delicious dinner of Lasagna - one of my favs! Thanks mom! And then I spent a lot of time trying to get ready for Christmas and seeing people. We had a get together where I saw a bunch of friends and a little family - and it was so nice to see everyone. They were all so supportive and interested - which was not what I was expecting because life here can be so hard to explain and relate to! It was great. Then, we spent about 5 days up at the cabin for New Years! There wasn't much snow, but we had great fun playing hockey on the pond and ping pong in the barn. Lastly, I went to Denver with my sister. I saw a lot of family and a few friends, which again was great. I did go to the mall and was appalled by what people where. Here, when people go to buy in town, they wear a nice skirt and shirt or men wear slacks and a nice shirt. In the states people looked like they had just rolled out of bed - I was quite offended by it - I guess that's one thing I will miss here!

But overall, America was great. Having running hot and cold water, indoor showers that don't electrocute you, seeing family and friends, and traveling in private transportation were all quite the luxuries! However, I will miss people's formalities here, being invited to whoever's house whenever, and the delicious fruit!

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Coffee Harvest

I hope you all up north are enjoying your morning harvest - we here are working hard to pick it for you! So, the coffee cherries have just turned red - aka - ripe. So, they are being hand-picked and drying. Consequently, the air smells like a mix of baby poop and vomit - so I really hope you enjoy your morning cup of joe now! But the coffee plants are very pretty with their dark green shinny leaves and bright red cherries. They will be drying from now until next spring, and then they will process it and sell it to Starbucks (they say Starbucks is their best buyer - who knows if that's true). So, people in my community are going to pick coffee - they leave at 5 am and return at about 4 pm. The are paid about $1.25 per 25 pounds and people can make over $10 a day, so that's A LOT of coffee to pick. Now, people have much more money than about 6 months ago, and they will be getting more if they have sugar fields - the harvest is next to come!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Surviving the Storm

So, its been about 10 days since the rains have stopped and everything is almost back to normal. We were told by Peace Corps to stay in our sites and not leave for 9 days (standfast). This is the first step of our Emergence Action Plan. They decided because of the huge amounts of rain that it was unsafe to travel because bridges were being washed out, and many times, the trasnportation stopped due to too much water in the roads. So, for nine days, I didnt do much. I read, I watched TV shows, and slept. It was quite relaxing, but I started to run out of food and clothing, so I was grateful when it stopped. Also, it is difficult to not be able to leave your house. I did leave some, but I couldnt do a lot of work becuase it was raining too hard and school was cancelled for 7 days, so my abilities were limited.

Now the weather is beautiful. It is cool and even cold sometimes at night and the days are sunny and warm, even hot. Things are drying out and I can wash my clothes again! I must say that I am really glad I was living with a family during this time because I could talk to people without leaving my house, and they have a TV, so I could see what was going on in other parts of the country. Now that it is almost the dry season, the crops are ready to harvest and there will be more soccer games!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

New Site!

So, I'm in my new site and loving it! I've been in my new site in Santa Ana for a little over two weeks, and I'm so much happier, relaxed, and enjoying my time so much more. People are so friendly and wanting to show me how to do things. They want to work with me, not me for them, and they want to show me around the area. They offer to show me around the city of Santa Ana, but also to the river; they offer to do house visits with me, and how to dance; they show me how to make tamales, and ask if I can teach them to make pizza. Its such a wonderful change - I almost can't believe it. I also realize that it wasn't me that was failing, which is wonderful.

So, I have a few projects I'm working on and a few I'm finishing up from another volunteer. I am working on a trash campaign and helping part of the community get water. I am finishing up a solar electric project, continuing working on a road/bridge project with Engineers without Borders, continuing fuel efficient stoves, and supporting the kindergarten teacher. I am hoping to do some work with health in regards to dental and eye campaigns and a little with HIV/AIDS. Lastly, I think I might restart the women's soccer team and have a youth group that does service activities in the community. But, since I"m still new and trying to get to know some people, I'm still not sure when any of this will materialize, but I'm very hopeful that I will be more successful!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Corn, Corn, Corn!

The rains have come and it's harvest time! Everyone is gathering all the corn they planted, so there is corn overload! This means that people are making everything from corn. Besides the usually corn tortillas and semi-regular corn tamales, or chicken tamales with corn on the outside, I have now eaten about 20 corn on the cob in a week, a bowl of atol, which this time was a thick corn drink that is okay, but in small quantities, fried corn pancakes, grilled corn pancakes wrapped in banana leaves, more corn tamales (which I helped make!), corn in soup, and any other way they think of using corn - very inventive! I mush say though, that sometimes my system can't digest that much corn, and I have no idea how they do!

For now, life is good and rich, but come February it will be a little harder without the harvest and extra corn. Prices will go up and people might stop eating some meals because their staple can't grow and they can't afford to buy it. A change we don't usually see in America.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Modes of Transport ...

So, a few months ago, I moved houses. My new house didn't have a pila (a cement tub that has two plat surfaces on either side to wash dishes, clothes, whatever you can think of), so I went to a neighboring town and ordered one from the pila man. He gave me the cost and then I asked does this include transportation or do I need to find transportation - what's the deal exactly? Anyway he said it would be ready in about 5 days and transportation would be $10. I thought that was maybe a little high, but its a huge cement object that four strong men have a hard time lifting a 1/4 of a cm. off the ground.

So, five days later, I'm on my way home from the school with a couple friends, and someone says my name. I turn around, and I see the man who makes pilas with my pila ... pulling it by OXEN! Well, needless to say, I was a little surprised that this costs $10 - but at least I got my pila!

Side note: Oxen is not an unusual transport option here, so that isn't what surprised me - it was the fact that my pila cost an extra $10 because of oxen.