This past week I’ve been learning more at school, seeing more on excursions and reading more about the history of El Salvador. And for fun? I started reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in Spanish and took a trip to the beach.
21.01.2013 - 28.01.2013 30 °C
In Spanish classes Monday to Friday I had the same teacher and was studying with the same group, we’ve covered various interesting topics, including local myths, environmental issues, education, the “communist” uprising of 1932 and the following massacres and various other interesting was and politically related topics.
With the cultural program, I went on three trips this week. We visited The Museum of the Word and the Image, where we saw various interesting exhibits on the war, immigration to America and other topics. And we also met (and got to speak to) the owner the museum, the famous “Santiago” a Venezuelan who ran the guerrilla radio station “Radio Venceremos”, during the war.
We also visited the medical union, spoke to an active member and were given a tour of the hospital. We learnt a lot about the history of the union, the protests against the privatisation of health care in El Salvador, and the current working conditions in the hospital; there are plenty of doctors but not enough money to pay them, they get a small wage and are all only employed for 2hrs per day, the majority of which they spend doing compulsory paper work, whilst patients sit without care in the waiting rooms; it was pretty upsetting.
The third trip was to the local central cemetery and there we heard lots of interest stories of famous El Salvadorian figures and how they died. As well a ghost story of a woman whose statue stands in a wedding dress in the centre of the cemetery…
With the family, we celebrated the 7th birthday of their son Joshua with cake and a wondrous rendition of happy birthday, with the added verse (as they do here), of:
“Now we want cake! Now we want cake…”
or in spanish
“Ya queremos pastel; ya queremos pastel…”.
(image it to the tune of happy birthday)
It was a very cute little celebration; with the family (in a still very macho society, where men very much are still head of the household) trying to teach their children about gender equality by giving their daughter presents, as well, on their son’s birthday. A cute idea, if ever I heard one and good to know that they are trying to teach gender equality, even if they don’t really understand it themselves!
On Saturday I went with Christalynn to the beach; I’ve heard great things about the El Salvadorian beachs and I wasn’t disappointed. The town of El Tunco was lovely, beautifulo little sandy streets filled with bars and restaurants and little corner shops, and the typical little man selling coconuts. El Tunco beach is very famous for serf, but it was very swimmable as well, the water was warm and the beach had a nice cool sea breeze running across it so we didn’t get too hot. We had some yummy fish taco’s for lunch and a very relaxing day, reading, swimming and having a good girlie gass.
Sunday and Monday we adventured a little farther afield, going to the other side of El Salvador we stopped at Rio Sapo with our new friend Vilma (the very lovely little old El Salvadorian lady we met last weekend). As per usual for Latin America, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, and after being waved onto a bus at 5:15 in the morning by a vary excitable Vilmar we ending up on a tour with a huge number of San Salvadorians; all going on a 5hr journey, to spend 3 hrs at the river and then immediately drive 5hrs home again (crazy people).
The bus journey there was a barrel of laughs, there was one lady taking photo’s of EVERYTHING; there were various people selling snacks and drinks; and the bus was really rather cheap, cheaper even than the public bus. Being polite foreigners and not using enough elbow, we ending up sitting on little stools in the aisle of the bus, rather than having seats, and every time the bus stopped suddenly all the women on the bus screamed “ooohhhh!!”, the stools toppled-over and we nearer fell on our faces; it was definitely a local experience!
The river was pretty, the swimming cold and refreshing, and we had a lovely picnic, but it was all too soon time to leave and rather than head back to San Salvador with out new friends, we decided it was best we made the most of being in a vary famous area of the country.
We headed instead up to Pequin, an area famous for its involvement in the war. We visited the war museum; arriving just before closing time we got a tour of the place with a very knowledgeable guide, and a recommendation for a hotel for the night. For dinner we ate pupusas and drank shandy with a chatty Australian guy, before bunking down at a rather reasonable 8:30PM.
The following day we headed out early and stopped at El Mozote; a town with a terribly sad history; it was here that the El Salvadorian army masacered nearly 1000 people in 1982 during the war. We had both read the book “The Massacer at El Mozote” But we heard the story again and received a short tour of the town from a local girl, who left the area 8 days before the massacre, and was one of the first people to come back again only 6 months after the peace treaty was signed, on returning she was the one to identify the bodies of 7 nieces and 4 siblings whose bodies were found in the house of her father. It was very moving to here the story again from the lips of a local survivor.