Thursday, February 11, 2010

San Sebastian, Ilobasco, Alegría


I had a hard time sleeping last night. I woke up several times and couldn’t get back to sleep. I still have to get used to hearing the people, dogs, cats, and roosters making noise at all hours of the night. That’s right, I said roosters. They don’t seem to know when it’s morning so they just crow all night. But eventually I’ll adjust. I am definitely a night owl and not much of a morning person; I went to bed last night around midnight. Astonishingly, I woke up without an alarm clock at 7am. I was very impressed with myself. Today there was running water so I was able to take a shower. The city only has running water every other day from around 6-9am. This is part of an effort to save water. On days when the water is running the ladies at the house fill up the pilas (these are like stone basins) so they can use water for the rest of the day and the next day for dishes, clothes, showers, etc. The water is even warm in the house showers. No cold dump shower for me today.

Breakfast this morning was beans, plantains, and eggs. My plate mysteriously ended up with more eggs on it than Kathy or Sandy’s. Hmmmm, I wonder how that happened. We waited for a while to see whether the women at the house (Blanca, Idalia, Cecelia) wanted to go to San Sebastian to buy blankets and towels. I feel now is a good time to explain that time moves at a different pace here in El Salvador. We had asked yesterday if anyone wanted to go to San Sebastian and the ladies at the house said they’d talk. They didn’t discuss it until this morning. At first we didn’t think we’d be going since Blanca was sick, but as soon as they decided they wanted to go we left a half hour later. Thus, on certain things there’s not always a lot of planning ahead. This isn’t to say that people don’t have foresight or plan ahead on other issues, but there is more flexibility with time.

The main reason we wanted to go to San Sebastian and then Ilobasco was to buy things to sell at the house when delegations visit. Kathy and the women and are setting up a little store where people can buy Salvadoran goods when they come visit from the States. This is mostly delegations. Sometimes a delegation can’t make it to places like Ilobasco, San Sebastian, or the artesian market in San Salvador. Here at the house they’ll be able to buy things vases, candles, towels, blankets, wooden crosses, and painted boxes if they aren’t able to do much sightseeing or shopping. Once the women make the candles in the little pots and vases they bought I might buy some to take home.

Kathy, Sandy, Blanca, Idalia, and I piled into the truck. It takes a little over an hour to get to San Sebastian. The store we went to was packed with woven towels, blankets, tablecloths, purses, and hammocks. All colorful and unique. Idalia and Blanca picked out towels and blankets to sell at the house. Sandy and I gave our expert gringa (white person) opinions as to which pieces delegates would be most likely to buy. After making our purchases we looked in the back room where everything was made. Eight huge wooden looms operated by hand were in use. They were being operated by shirtless men who used both hands and both feet to create the product. It’s difficult to describe the skill, patience, and concentration it takes to make each piece. We talked to one man who told us it takes around an hour to make one square foot of the product. With all the technology of self-operated machinery used in other parts of the world to spew out identical products, it is hard to fathom the sweat and energy that goes into making each piece in this shop. And for how much money? I’m not sure. But probably not a whole lot.

After leaving San Sebastian we headed to Ilobasco. We went to the same house/store as yesterday to place a special order of little pots that they women will use to make candles. They also purchased some vases to sell at the house. Since it was around noon our next stop was lunch. I was told the pizza was good at the restaurant so that’s what I ordered. It took a while to get our food, but it was tasty. After that we wandered in and out of shops looking for more things to sell at the store. We get held up for a while at the last shop making all sorts of purchases. I think we were kind of feeding off each other. First Idalia and Blanca were looking at little shot glasses to put candles in. Then Sandy started looking around. Soon afterward I found a small framed print that I liked. Before I knew it, I had bought the small print and a painted wooden cross. Sandy bought two prints, a few crosses, and something else. Idalia and Blanca bought some little glasses, crosses, painted boxes, and a blue ceramic hen complete with eggs. We needed to be stopped. Kathy had to drive the truck up to the store so we wouldn’t have to walk with all our merchandise. Eventually we made it out of the store. We tied everything up in boxes in the back of the truck and headed off. The drive home took a little over an hour.

Back at the house we had some downtime before dinner. I read for a while and laid in the hammock. A beer was handed to me so I drank it. We left around 5:45 for nearby Alegría for dinner. It was my first time this trip riding in the back of the pickup. It never gets old. The sun was setting behind us making the mountains in the distance even more beautiful. The restaurant, Cartagena, was new to us. The garden area was lush with several different plants and flowers. They also had some animals: a scarlet macaw, rabbits, and a raccoon. The macaw said “hola” to us when we approached and the raccoon was sleeping his little box. I did see rabbit on the menu, so I’m hoping the bunnies weren’t for eating.

We found a table and ordered some food. I ordered some shrimp with garlic, rice, and vegetables. It took quite a while to get our food. Cecelia said they had to go catch the chickens for her dinner. When the food did arrive I saw that the shrimps were huge. As usual, they were whole and in their shell, complete with legs, head, eyes, and little feelers. Kathy had ordered a medium size fish and ended up with a 12 inch fish that almost didn’t fit on the plate. But everything was delicious. We wolfed down our food and headed back to Berlín. I love riding in the back of the truck at night. Without light pollution I could see hundreds of stars. I found Orion’s Belt and Betelgeuse quickly. Then Ursa Major and Polaris. I don’t think I can ever get tired of looking up at the stars.

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful story and descriptive of your visits. Thanks and love to you - Kevin

Matt said...

Sounds like a wonderful day filled with fun, beautiful scenery, and great food. I wonder where the raccoon came from.