It’s a little difficult to write a blog post while Bob insists on telling excellent stories of his adventures in various countries, but I’m going to give it a shot. As far as our own adventure is going, we made it to El Salvador! Except for Catherine, because screw passport expiration dates. No, her passport hasn’t actually expired. It expires in April. Apparently that’s not good enough.  Not sure if that’s a Brit thing or an El Salvador thing, but she should be getting here in a couple hours.

Without Jesse to rag on, Mike has quite taken to mocking Erynne with stereotypes re: Oregon. He’d probably say she started it by claiming vegetarianism. Yesterday evening we went to the supermarket to get supplies for breakfast and lunch. Ariel asked Mike what he already had…

“Peanut butter?”

“Tons of peanut butter.”

“Jelly?”

“Bottles and bottles.”

About six similarly answered questions later…

“So why are we here again?” said Ariel.

“I thought we were here to get sprouts,” said Mike.

“Sprouts?”

“You know, for Erynne.”

We got cookies and fruit.  And disinfectant for the fruit. Also, we got some proper harina de maiz – and we’re not gonna forget it this time, Jesse – so we can make actual pupusas when we get back. Get excited, EWB.

It amazes me that despite this being my second time in El Salvador, I’m still constantly surprised by the things that I see. Today I saw a kid casually chomping on a lime, biting into it like an apple. This was after the morning meeting and about a four-hour decision on where to build the foundations for the three water tanks. We were pleased to find that the tanks had actually been delivered to the community already, and more pleased to discover how actively the members participated in the meeting. Even the women spoke up, which was actually my biggest surprise of the day. Salvadoreños are usually shy, and Salvadoreñas more so. Maybe they’re getting used to us.

My Spanish vocab word of the day is carretilla (wheelbarrow). We had the foresight to bring one to carry our tools. On our way to the community today, we discovered that the roads had suffered severely since last March. We hung onto the pickup’s side bars to keep from falling out as we got stuck in hole after hole. I don’t mean potholes here. Some of them might’ve been up to my waist if I’d stood in them. Our driver, Rubén, navigated them expertly but announced defeat when we encountered a tree across the road. Even lying on its side, it still was probably ten feet tall, with a split trunk and many branches all over the place. We carried the tools and the carretilla through the branches and climbed over the limbs ourselves, and walked the rest of the way to the canocaste (meeting tree). About halfway through our meeting with the community, Rubén’s red truck showed up – from the direction whence we’d come.

“Did he…move that tree by himself?” I said. Nope. He’d cut through the brush and had driven around it. Welcome to El Salvador.

We spent the majority of the morning touring the spots that the community suggested for the tanks. Of course, everyone wanted a tank in their front yard. It was a morning of diplomacy lessons, but eventually we settled on the three locations for the tanks: one in Domingo’s yard, one near Louisa’s house (the oldest woman in the village) and one by Don Chepe’s. Chepe’s location we think is a bit precarious for the PIPA truck to access, but the villagers seem to think that the hill will be passable. We haven’t come up with a reason why they’d want a tank where they can’t get water, so thus far we’re inclined to believe them. In a show of goodwill, the community also compromised to have 1 cubic meter of water delivered to an already existing tank so that that group of houses wouldn’t get shafted on water proximity.

We took a lunch break on the roots of the conocaste and munched on our sandwiches. Some of the men agreed to meet us in an hour to start digging holes for the tank foundations. While we were eating, a man with a horse walked by and asked if we were the ones who brought the tanks. Word gets out around here, I guess. We apparently had a very amusing conversation, most of which I kind of maybe understood a little bit. His horse seemed very intent on leaving without him and kept walking down the road. It vanished into the brush. The man didn’t seem concerned.  A few minutes later the horse reappeared, having been chastised by a grumpy neighbor for eating his corn. Before departing the man advised us to try los naranjas verdes, which hung on a tree nearby. The phrase “green oranges” is somewhat more confusing in English, but it did explain why I thought that kid had been happily chewing on a lime.

Accomplishments of the day: one hole finished, and another hole cleared and ready for digging. Not to mention the agreements about where to put them, which is probably the real hard work.

Ariel is grumpy because she has to finish editing her scholarship essays (you can only edit them for so long, Ariel!) and wants her computer back. And she wants me to proofread for her, which I can’t understand because she still won’t let me live down submitting our 525 Implementation Report with “524” as the header on every page. In any case, time to go – I’ll just leave you with one more story.

At dinner, Mike was excited about having obtained some non-clone bananas (aka, nothing you’ll ever eat from the supermarket at home). I think those are breakfast.

“But that’s not the best surprise,” said Mike, and tossed Erynne a bag of sprouts.

 

- Grace