Today has been a pretty laid back day. I rolled out of bed and took a nice hot shower. Nothing to rush off to do. Idalia told us that something was being done to the little “park” in the center of the town and that it wouldn’t be done until August. Kathy and I went to investigate and to do some shopping. Indeed they were completely tearing up the park. The whole area was roped off and they were tearing some things down. Not sure why they choose this time to redo everything. Easter is coming up in March as is Berlín’s patron saint festival. We wandered on through the market looking for a birthday gift for Blanca, who told us she was turning 15 tomorrow (not really). Kathy initially found a pretty vase but decided on a beautiful white skirt instead.
As we walked around down town we ran into one of Kathy’s little admirers; a little boy about 8 years old named Bryan. He was carrying around a small toy gun with fake bullets. Sometimes he’s pretend to shoot it. Several times Kathy tried to tell him to put the gun away and that peace and friendship were better. He either didn’t understand or didn’t care. Maybe a little bit of both. Personally, I have never liked toy guns or when kids pretend to play war. As a camp supervisor, family event coordinator, and children care provider for 8 years at the YMCA, toys guns were one thing kids were not allowed to play with or pretend to have under my supervision. Furthermore, from what I learned in psychology, sociology, and social work classes, toy guns aren’t something I would want my children to be playing with. I’m not a supporter of toy weapons of any sort, especially in a country where violence is more prevalent and the civil war a part of recent history. To quote a fantastic shirt from the Des Moines East Village store Raygun, "Make awkward sexual advances, not war".
Back at the house I spent some time doing laundry. I was washing my clothes on the right side of the pila when Aminta came out to prepare chicken on the left side. For a second I thought, "I wonder why she’s washing and preparing raw chicken over there on the same side we wash dishes." Then I thought, “Well duh, Alisha, where else is she supposed to do that?" We both cleaned away and after she was finished she scrubbed the entire area with soap and bleach.
After washing clothes I grabbed a book Kathy lent me call, “The Weight of All Things”. It’s a fictional book about a nine year old boy during the beginning of Salvadoran Civil War (1980). Throughout the book the main character sees his mother killed but doesn’t realize she’s dead, his house is taken over by guerillas, and he is forced to join the government/military side of the war. Though it is a fictional book many part of the book ring true. In one part of the book they talk about the "ambulances of the people" (hammocks), which I learned about on my most recent trip to Perquin. One of the most poignant parts of the book thus far reads as follows: "Caught between their guns were the people, the ordinary people for whose supposed benefit the war was being waged. On one side was the right, claiming it fought against the tyranny of communism. On the other side, the left, struggling, it said, against the injustice of oligarchs and militarists. But while the two sides fought for their principles, most of the dying was done by the people."
I spent some more time on lesson planning until dinner, which was quesadillas and fresh avocados. I saw a few of the cats that come over the walls to the house to eat the leftovers from the garbage. Three cats I had seen before, but there was a new one tonight. After eating Kathy and I attempted to sneakily made cookies for Blanca’s birthday tomorrow. Of course, that meant someone had to light the oven. We called Blanca in to help without letting on why we needed the oven in the first place. How many people and how many matches does it take to light this oven? Apparently it takes four people and 10 matches. After the oven was lit and warming up, Kathy and I made little balls out of the dough and placed them on the cookie sheet. Before we were going to put them in oven, Kathy realized she’d forgotten to put the egg in the dough. So all the little balls went back into the mix. Eventually we got the cookies made and even had some M&Ms to put on top of them. They were pretty delicious.
“Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution.” Kahlil Gibran
The fifth attempt to light the oven
Idalia came in to show us how it was done
How many matches?
The end result