Monday, February 28, 2011

Technology Woes

Monday, 2-28-11

This blog contains large amounts of sarcasm and cynical humor

I grappled with what to call my blog today. Technology is evil? Cell phones are computers are a pain in the neck? Why are we so dependent on things we don’t like? No. None of those worked. “Technology Woes” is much catchier. Now, where do I begin with the reason behind the name of my blog. Well….I finally went out and bought a cell phone today to use here. The one I had from last year was still here and other delegations had been able to use it. But it only got a signal in one area. That area was in the little courtyard area up by Kathy’s office. Not great but it could be worse. And it was worse. Even after I’d charged the cell phone it didn’t seem to stay turned on. It kept turning itself off. I figured the battery was shot. So I avoided putting minutes on the phone because I didn’t want to waste money on a phone that would only stay charged for an hour. That all happened a little over a week ago.

Today, Cecilia and I made a trip out to find me a new one. I had scoped out some places yesterday to see what the cell phone prices were like. Only a few stores in town carry phones. The least expensive one I could find was $22. Not bad. But Cecilia said the ones in the store were more expensive so we went and bought one out of the back of the truck. Seriously. There were people from TIGO (a company like AT&T) in the truck selling and setting up phones. The one I bought was $18 and the exact same model as the one I’d looked at in the store. Perfect. It was even in a color I liked. I purchased it and took my new toy home.

I let my phone charge for a while. At one point Cecilia looked at it and saw that it was “locked.” She and I both tried to figure it out but to no avail. The phone also looked liked it wasn’t getting a signal. I signed and thought, “Oh boy.” So we asked her brother, Mauricio, to help us out. As Mauricio tried to figure out my cell phone I could feel my frustration growing. At that point I seriously considered running away to the jungles of the Amazon and never returning because I was so sick of technology. Mauricio played with it and eventually got it unlocked. I figured I’d wait for a while before looking at it again. Because maybe if I didn’t look at it until it was fully charged, that would somehow magically allow the phone to receive a signal.

Twice within the next hour Mauricio came into the dining room and asked for my help with something on the computer. He couldn’t read something that was in English the first time and the second time he needed help copying and pasting something from the internet into a word document. He then showed me a piece of paper that he’d got at school. He was supposed to copy everything that was on the paper into a word document. The image I had just copied and pasted needed to go into a certain place. Well, I couldn’t figure out how to do it. I told him that if my phone was working then I could call and ask my husband what to do. We both laughed.

I eventually checked my phone and it still was not receiving a signal. Now, the reason the cell phone doesn’t work well has nothing to do with the phone itself. It’s the service provider, TIGO, that is the problem. At least I’m pretty sure that’s the problem. Who knows. I looked at my first cell phone and it was still on and appeared to be working. What!?! It wasn’t working a week ago! So now I have two cell phones and I’m not sure which to use. Neither seems very reliable. All I want is a phone that works. I don’t care what it looks like or if it does do any “cool” things. Not a big deal. Please, just let it work.

Additionally, my Skype is not working again. It wasn’t working last night when my parents and Matt tried to call me. So today I restarted the computer and that seemed to fix the problem. I was able to talk to my parents when they called around 7:15pm. A little while later I saw that Skype wasn’t working again. Why!?! I restarted the computer again. It still didn’t work. So I sent Matt a frustrated email saying mean things about Skype and technology in general. My threats to inanimate objects must have worked because Skype suddenly started to work again. But by then Matt had gotten off the computer. I decided to try to use cell phone #2 which I have decided to call “Blue” since it’s blue. The other one is “Black”. Guess what color it is! I know, I know, I’m terribly creative. I had to turn off the phone then turn it back on and finally I got a signal. He seemed surprised to get my call. As I was talking to Matt on the phone hoping I wouldn’t lose the signal I realized that it was just last week I declared myself a genius in all things technology. That figures.

Since I’m taking this time to complain about things I’d like to announce that the fan in my room is making some weird noises that’s really distracting. I seriously considered shaking it but have learned from past experience that shaking things that don’t work usually doesn’t help. Also, my leg is hurting a little bit. My guess is that it’s because my muscles are tight. I took some Aleve and did a few stretches to help relieve the tension. Additionally, I had fully intended to take a shower tonight and then get to bed early. And here it is 11:45pm and I’ve accomplished neither task.

I’m feeling kind of grumpy and whiny right now. If I were to meet myself acting like this I would tell myself to “suck it up.” I keep hearing a meek voice in the back of my head saying, “Alisha. Alisha. You need to chill out. You need to be happy with what you have and stop agonizing about the little problems you’re having. They could be much worse.” I’m trying, little voice, I’m trying. That’s all for tonight. Tomorrow is a new day. Thanks for listening.

Revelations from doing laundry

Sunday, 2-27-11

“Tenemos agua today?” As soon as those words came out of my mouth I knew I had just spoken some sort of Spanglish. Cecilia gave me a funny look and said, “Qué?” (What?) I started laughing so hard I had a difficult time explaining what I’d just said. What I meant to say was, “Tenemos agua hoy?” (Do we have water today?) The water only runs every other day here for a few hours and I couldn’t remember if it was running today. Eventually I calmed down and Cecilia told me that we did have water today. Lovely. Later on I told Alejandro, Cecilia’s brother, about what I said and told him in the US we call that Spanglish. He called it a “mezcla” (mixture).

After learning we had water and it was still running I decided to do some laundry. That way, as I used up water, the pila (concrete basin) would still be filling up. Today I washed 3 shirts, 3 pairs of pants, socks, a pillowcase, and several of my “unmentionables”. This took me about 40 minutes. As I’m sure many people know, hand washing things takes a long time. Granted, I know I’m not as efficient or skillful as the women here who wash clothes. These women are pros at washing clothes and bedding. (I say “women” because it is almost always the women who wash clothes for the entire family).

When I do laundry here I like to do it more often and in smaller parts. In the US I like to wait as long as I can before washing. The difference is time and water usage. In the US I like to conserve as much water as I can so I wait until I have enough dirty laundry to do a proper load. Here, it doesn’t matter how much laundry I have because I’m always going to use a certain amount of water for each piece of clothing. There are several other reasons why the US way of washing clothes doesn’t work here. If I waited to do laundry until I had almost no clean clothes it would take a lot of time, I’d probably use up all the water in the pila leaving none for anyone else, and my clothes may or may not dry before nightfall.

As I was doing my laundry today I decided that even though it appears that sometimes no one here is organized they are in fact incredibly organized but in a different way than people in the US. The women of El Salvador have somehow figured out a way to do it all. They cook, clean the house, do the laundry, take care of the kids, and often work in the fields as well. Again, I don’t want you to think I’m being sexist because I’m leaving men out of the equation, but most of the time in El Salvador, if there is a woman in the household, she is the one who does the cooking, cleaning, and raising of children.

The ladies at the Pastoral House are no different. I swear, I never see the ladies washing their personal laundry. I see them doing bedding from the delegations and doing their kid’s & brother’s laundry, but rarely their own. It’s like their laundry magically gets done on its own. They cook a feast for a delegation or a visitor and then take only a tiny portion for themselves. Every day they wake up early to sweep and mop the floors, clean the bathrooms, tidy up the kitchen, and attend to any other cleaning needs that pop up. Many times they do the cleaning before anyone else wakes up so it appears as those the house cleaned itself.

A week or so ago I compared the ladies at the Pastoral House to people who own a bed and breakfast. I said what they do is like owning a bed and breakfast only you never get paid, you make all the meals, and have to accompany your guests on all their activities. Then when your guests leave you continue to check on the projects they worked on from time to time. But not only are the ladies here running that kind of B&B, they also have to do all their own laundry by hand, cook for themselves, help raise children, and work in the fields when they have spare time. They are all leaders in their community and attend every religious event possible. They take the rest of their miniscule spare time to help other people in the community who are less fortunate with basic health, food, and housing needs.

Wow!! They are a constant reminder of how amazing the women in this country are! Yet I feel that my description of the women here only scratches the surface of everything they strive for and everything they’ve already accomplished. Words cannot illustrate the love and passion they have for their work and for their lives. I am so honored to be able to spend time with them and to learn all that they have to teach. And I think I’ll leave it at that for tonight.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Computer Saturday

Saturday, 2-26-11

Well, I knew it was going to happen eventually. I managed to slip and fall today on the kitchen floor. Thankfully I landed on my left knee and right forearm so I think I prevented any further injury to my left hip. I’ve managed to avoid falling since my hip problems began in October and I really thought since I was done with the snow for a while that I’d be okay. Apparently not. Oh well. At least I didn’t run into the wall and bruise the back of my arm this time. But don’t worry mom; I immediately put ice on my hip and knee and took an Aleve.

I’ve decided to call today Computer Saturday because working on the computer is basically what I did all day. I backed up all my photos and word documents to my external hard drive in case the hard drive on my computer was to crash. I went through all of the pictures I took while the Newton delegation was here. I returned some emails that I hadn’t got around to yet. I worked on a report for Compañeros. I did a little more lesson planning. That was basically my day. Blanca was working at the dining room table with me for quite a while. Every once and a while we’d look at each other and sigh. “Tengo sueño,” she’d tell me (I’m tired). “Yo también,” I’d reply (Me too). I think the times when I am the least busy are usually when I’m the most tired. Either that or my body is just trying to catch up on sleep. Who knows.

I saw Pablo the turtle today for this first time since I got here. He had managed to make his way down to the chapel. I have no idea how he got down those stairs. Idalia told me I could take him back to the yard. I fed him and Barbara some bread. I made sure to put Barbara’s bread away from Pablo so she wouldn’t try to get his food or peck at him. It’s really nice to have some animals around the house. It seems more like home.

I went for a walk around 4:00pm because I really needed to get out and stretch my legs. My eyes were starting to bug out as well from staring at the computer so long. I admit that part of my walk was to the ice cream store for a scoop of mango and blackberry ice cream. It was wonderful and I hadn’t had mango since I got here. Then I went to the town center to sit down and people watch for a while. I saw two women and a little girl playing with their tiny puppy. The puppy and the girl were both really small and seemed to enjoy playing together. That was kind of a weird sight. Most people here don’t play with their dogs like that even if the dog is a pet. It was a nice change of pace.

I eventually headed back to the house to do a little more work. At 6:30pm Idalia asked me if I wanted to go with her to pick up some tacos for dinner. I said yes. Yay! If someone invites me to go with them somewhere, especially at night, I usually leap at the opportunity. I rarely go outside when it’s dark out so it’s kind of a treat to get to leave the house. We walked down the road a little ways to a small restaurant where they sell tacos, pupusas, and other food. We told them what we wanted and then went to sit down to wait for the food to be ready. I read a bit of the paper while we waited. When our order was ready we picked it up and walked back home. The food was delicious and I ended up eating three tacos.

The rest of my night was very laid back. I read a little news online, which is something I haven’t done since I got here. I chatted with my mom on Skype and listened to music. I even got to bed at a decent time. Ahhh, a good day.

Pablo, the turtle

Tasty bread

Enjoying breakfast together

All done

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Goodbye Newton delegation!

Friday, 2-25-11

The Newton delegation was leaving today around noon so we were able to spend the morning together. We enjoyed a breakfast of plantains, beans, eggs, and bread. Linda read from her book as part of our morning reading. After the reading Warren, Linda, Jenny, and I took off to walk the market and say hi to a few people. The first stop we made was to see a woman named Haydee who sells pupusas and hot chocolate and her daughter Mily. We saw them and Linda and Warren were able to get caught up. Haydee was holding her little granddaughter, Natalia, who was about 8 months old. She handed her to me so I could hold her. She is adorable with lots of dark hair! And as usual Haydee wouldn’t let us leave without giving us some of her hot chocolate mix. It is absolutely delicious and I savor every drink.

We said goodbye to them and moved on see more people. The next lady Warren wanted to talk to was in the “meat market” area. The meat market is looking a lot better than it did before the area was completely redone about a year ago. The walls have been repainted and the floor has been re-tiled. There aren’t as many flies buzzing around and the smell isn’t what it used to be. That all being said it still isn’t a place I ever visit. There are always stray dogs in there searching for scraps of meat on the ground. Looking around at all the pieces of meat hanging from rusty bars and sitting in metal pans makes me a little nauseous. Plus no one wears gloves and don’t count on people washing your food before they sell it to you. But that’s a part of life here. If you want meat that’s one of the places you’d go (although I have been told that the Pastoral Team does not buy their meat there).

While they went on to see another person I went back to have a look at some tank tops I’d seen near Haydee’s store. I was hoping to get a few more that were a little stretchy so they don’t stretch out too much when I wash them. Does that sentence make sense? The shirts that are more elastic retain their shape better than ones that aren’t elastic/stretchy. And since there are no dryers here to shrink them back to normal size I need ones that will stay the same size. That’s a pretty bad explanation but I’m not sure how to describe what I’m trying to say (Help me, Colleen!)

We made it back in time for a light lunch. We had fresh grapes, pineapple, apples, and watermelon for lunch. They ladies also made a Salvadoran version of grilled cheese sandwiches. I say Salvadoran version because the cheese is different. It’s labeled as “American cheese” and can only be bought in bigger cities, but I don’t really care for the taste. It tastes like an artificial yellow cheese and was a bit to soggy in the sandwiches for my liking so I only had half. I much prefer the Salvadoran styles of cheese they make. Now that is some delicious cheese.

Linda liked the sandwich and decided she’d have a little ketchup with it. Jenny found some on the table for her that was labeled Ketchup Picante (spicy ketchup). She shook it up for her mom to mix up the ingredients. When Linda went to open the ketchup we all heard a loud “pop” sound. We looked over and the ketchup had exploded all over Linda. We instantly started to laugh at the site of her. Linda was laughing hard as well. There was ketchup on her shirt, face, the food on her plate, and on the wall. By the time Jenny said, “We need a camera” I had already gone to my room to get one. I got a couple good pictures and Linda even posed with the ketchup bottle in one of them.

Holding little Natalia
(Haydee's granddaughter, Mily's niece)

She's pretty cute

If this doesn't make you a vegetarian
then nothing will

Warren and one of his friends

What happened, Linda?! You have ketchup all over!

Holding up the culprit

Ketchup with bread, pineapple, watermelon, & grapes.
Mmm Mmm good!

It got all over the wall as well!

Alfredo, the man who drives the microbus, showed up around 11:15am and soon it was time to say goodbye to another delegation. It’s sad to see people leave. I feel as if I had just started to get to know everyone. Time seems to move at a different pace down here. I’m especially going to miss Jenny since she and I are closer in age than most delegates. Actually, it’s been really hard to say goodbye to both the delegations. I had fun with the Trinity and Newton delegation. Everyone was wonderful and special in their own way. And together they made the trip a little more fun. I’m looking forward to the Heartland group’s arrival on Tuesday.

It’s been cool the whole day and it even started to rain a little when Idalia and Blanca took off at 4:30pm. I thought I heard thunder at one point. Well, I’m pretty sure it was thunder but I’m not 100% sure. I really don’t hear thunder that often here during the dry season. The electricity has gone off and on for a couple seconds several times today. Shortly after I heard the thunder it started to pour down rain which also seemed unusual. It’s rained probably 4 times since I’ve been here (about 3 weeks). Last year when I was here it rained maybe once in 6 weeks. But again, I don’t have a really good idea of what the weather is like here on a long term basis. Good thing I’m here for 10 months so I can figure out the weather.

It’s just Cecilia and I here tonight and Barbara the duck, of course. When delegations aren’t here Blanca and Idalia go home for the night. Cecilia is here almost every day of the week. She goes home to Alejandría on Saturday nights to spend time with her family. Tonight we had a simple dinner: a grilled tortilla with cheese inside. It was the good, Salvadoran style cheese. I spent time after dinner talking to my parents and Matt on Skype and then it was off to bed. I need to catch up on my sleep!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Muñoces fiesta

Thursday, 2-24-11

What a long and interesting day it has been! We started off the day with tamales, eggs, bread, and plantains. Yum!!! Jenny and I went shopping this morning in Berlín. The first place we went was the Niña Luz store. It’s a little shop here in town that sells a lot of jewelry and other trinkets made by a women’s co-op. We walked up the long hill to get to the store. Jenny was going to buy some things to sell at the Christmas Bazaar for Newton Presbyterian. She ended up with earrings, necklaces, key chains, scarves, wall hangings, and candle holders. We had a really fun time shopping. I eventually broke down and bought the “huge thing” that I really wanted. It’s hard to describe. It’s something made of coffee branches and big gourds (morro) that can hold little objects. Jenny described it as a stand with tri-level baskets (see picture below).

After we finished at the store we dropped our goodies off at the Pastoral House so we could check out the market. We looked around for some clothes and other things they were selling. The market wasn’t nearly as busy as it usually is on Sundays and Wednesdays which are main market days. I was looking at a couple dresses that I thought might be fun to wear to the fiesta this afternoon but didn’t have much luck. I did find one pink dress that was absolutely beautiful but when I tried it on I realized it was a little see-through. I really wanted it but Jenny convinced me that I shouldn’t buy it. Good idea. We continued on our way through the marketplace. Eventually we returned to the Pastoral House around noon.

When we got back home Kathy told us that we’d lost electricity around 10:30am. It’s not unusual to lose electricity but sometimes I forget we don’t have it because it’s so light inside the house without having the lights on. We sat down and had a little lunch. We told everyone about our shopping adventures and how we’d managed to refrain from getting ice cream. It was hard to resist, however we decided we should probably eat a decent lunch. A little before 1pm we started to get things ready to head out to Muñoces for the fiesta.

A husky I saw on the way to the artisan shop

My new "huge thing" that I
bought at the artisan shop

We left for the celebration in Muñoces about 1pm. The truck was pretty packed full of various things for the fiesta most of which was food. It was a wild ride in the back of the truck. Imagine this: Riding in the bed of a packed full pickup on a very bumpy canton road holding on to the railing with one hand and a huge piñata in the other hand all while dust was flying into our eyes and we dodged branches so as not to get smacked in the face. Plus we were wearing skirts. Wow! What an adventure!

Once we’d arrived we sat down for a while outside the church while several people in the community finished up a meeting. It was nice to be able to rest for a while. I could have fallen asleep but fortunately we were needed before that happened. After the meeting was over we all went into the church and began the process of putting the food onto plates and then into bags. We needed to make 200 to be sure we had enough for the entire community. It was a long process but we all had a part to fill and did it well. We plated up one enchilada, 2 pupusas, and a bag of sauce onto each plate and put it all into a black plastic bag.

As we made the food for a late lunch/early dinner tons of people from the community showed up. Everyone sat down outside the church as we finished making up the plates for everyone. Manuel, who is the síndico (all things legal) of Muñoces talked for a while to the people about how they want to improve things in their community, how much the Newton delegation works for the people, and how thankful they were to the Newton church. Blanca also spent time talking to the community and giving them her “mother hen pep talk.” The Pastoral Team has been making even more of an effort lately to be more involved in the communities and work with the Directiva or committee in each community. They have been stressing solidarity amongst the community, the partner churches in the US, and the Pastoral Team in all the communities they have been visiting.

Next came the time to whack the piñatas. We had bought four piñatas and filled each with two big bags of candy. The Hello Kitty piñata was for the little girls, the boys got a Barney character piñata, the woman had a hippopotamus piñata, and the men got a Winnie the Pooh piñata. The piñatas were set up one at a time and hung from a tree by the church. They used a bandana I had around my water bottle as a blindfold and a stick from nearby to hit the piñatas. It was hilarious to watch it all! Manuel was in charge and did a pretty good job keeping things under control. As I’m sure you can imagine things could get out of control fast in that situation.

The girls did well and once the piñata burst open they were all over the ground collecting it. With the boy’s piñata the head became separated from the body at one point but the candy hadn’t fallen out so Manuel helped to get the candy out. The women really loved the piñata! At one point, after the piñata had broken open, a little boy tried to get some candy off the ground and he was nearly run over by one woman. He was fine and I didn’t feel too bad since it technically wasn’t his turn. There is no mercy when it comes to piñatas.

The men’s piñata was probably the most fun to watch. We really wanted one particular older man to start. Jenny nicknamed him grandpa. He was in his 80s and walked with a cane/walking stick. They didn’t blindfold him since he was older and we didn’t want him to get hurt. But when he lifted up the stick and took his first swing at the piñata we were all surprised. He hit that thing harder than anyone else had! It was like watching a major league baseball player hit a home run! I could not believe how hard he was able to hit that piñata. It was amazing! It soon burst open and the men ran to get candy. He was able to get a handful and Roberto, the president of the Directiva, also handed him a bunch. After that he hobbled back to his place on the hill with Winnie’s head to look for more candy and to take the wire inside it home. All in all the piñatas were a great success.

After that we began to hand out the food to everyone. We handed it out to people in the same order that we’d done the piñatas. First the girls made a line in front of the church and we handed out the plates of food and pop. Then the boys, then the women, and finally the men were served. Most people found a seat on benches, chairs, or the ground and ate their food. Once we’d finished we handed out the leftover food to the women of the families and also the Directiva. There wasn’t a whole lot of leftover food because the Pastoral Team ladies are really good at estimating how people will show up for these events. Then everyone participated in picking up the trash and mess we’d made.

Warren and Linda took a little time to say goodbye to the community and thank them for inviting us into their homes. Linda closed with the song, “Amazing Grace.” Soon people began to leave. I went over to “grandpa” to say goodbye and to show him the pictures I’d taken of him on my camera when he was hitting the piñata. I couldn’t understand everything he was saying because he was missing most of his teeth and it’s harder for me to understand older people when they speak Spanish. But I got the point of what he was saying and he seemed to understand me. I gave him a hug goodbye and walked to the truck. We waved and said goodbye to everyone in the community.

Loaded up in the back of the truck

Hola Jenny!

Our little friends

Jenny and Ms. Hippo

Cecilia wanted Pooh

Roberto got stuck holding Barney's friend

Not much room to stand

Getting food on the plates

A giant tub of lettuce


Mmmm, the enchilada shells

Done with the food

200 plates in bags

People begin to arrive

Blanca talking to the community

Many people showed up

Kathy found a baby to hold

Manuel talking to the community

I want this one!

Baby Emerson

Whacking at Hello Kitty

Grabbing some candy

Passing out candy

It's the boy's turn

The head and body became separated

No Kathy, you don't need to dance with Ms. Hippo

The ladies go next

Hit it! Hit it!

What a crowd of people

Here comes "grandpa"

Watching her husband

He's a mad man!!

Look at him go!

Grab as much as you can!

Back at his seat with his prize

Time to hand out food

Everyone helped out

Very tasty

Roberto and Manuel talking again

Valentina enjoying pupusas

Linda singing "Amazing Grace" for everyone

I think he's a pretty cute old man!

I showed him the photos I took

Back at the Pastoral House:
I can carry this upstairs

And I did
(It was heavy!)

When we arrived back at the house around 5pm we discovered there was still no electricity. This usually isn’t too much of a problem during the day because it’s so light inside the house that we don’t leave the lights on. Obviously, it’s more difficult to do things in the evening and at night without power. It certainly makes me appreciate the electricity at the Pastoral House a whole lot more. Without electricity there no lights, internet access, TV, radio, clock, or fan. I didn’t want to use my computer because I did not want to drain the battery. The stuff in the fridge and freezer were getting warmer. And that’s only what I have available to me at the Pastoral House.

I can’t even begin to name all the electronics that I have in Iowa which would not function without electricity. I am a very lucky person. Not only can I afford all my gadgets and electronic devices, I can also afford the electricity needed to power them. Going to the cantons has given me somewhat of an idea of what it’s like to be without electricity out in the country. Now, even though some of the cantons have electricity, they are still very limited. Sure a few houses have a TV or a radio but not many. Many people only use the electricity to light one bulb in the house and use it only during the night because that’s all they can afford to pay for. Sometimes they don’t even do that. It is always humbling to think about how millions of people in this world live every day.

I think this would be a good place to mention Earth Hour, which is Saturday, March 26 at 8:30pm (your local time). Not only is it a stand against climate change but I think it can also be a way to remember people who don’t have electricity. So I want to encourage everyone to participate in this easy, one-hour event. I would love to do it here at the Pastoral House. We’ll see how the ladies like the idea. If nothing else, I can at least turn out the lights where I am at that time. Check out the website:

We left at 6pm for dinner in nearby Alegría to say goodbye since the delegation is leaving tomorrow for San Salvador. I thought we were going to the usual restaurant so I was surprised when we stopped on a different street at a restaurant called Mi Pueblito. The view from our table was beautiful. It was getting dark and you could see the valley below. I ordered the beef dish that came with potatoes, rice, salad, cheese, and a tortilla. The menu wasn’t nearly as large as the one at the other restaurant but the food was pretty good.

Shortly after we started eating we were plunged into complete darkness. The lights had gone out at the restaurant. We just couldn’t escape the dark. We all started laughing and talking about how this was going to be an adventure. Someone who worked in the restaurant turned on their car headlights so we could see our food a little bit. Blanca and Kathy had brought small flashlights with them so we set those up as well. The waiter came by with several candles that he lit and set on the table. Unfortunately, the wind was so strong that they were all blown out. We relit them and managed to keep two going. It was dinner by candlelight in El Salvador with good friends. What more could you ask for?

About 10 minutes later the lights came back on. We laughed again and wondered if the lights were on in Berlín. We blew out the candles to conserve what was left of them. Soon we’d finished eating and were heading back to Berlín. It gets cooler at night here especially in the back of the pickup. Warren had left his jacket at the house so Linda lent him her purple long-sleeved shirt. Naturally, we had to give him a hard time about that. But it was a pretty ride back. You could see so many more stars than when you are in the city. At one point Kathy pulled over alongside the road so we could look at all the lights in the valley. Above and below was thousands of twinkling little lights. It is always an amazing sight.

As we arrived in Berlín we could see that the whole city was dark. People were standing outside their houses talking. There’s not a whole lot to do in town when there’s no electricity so people stand outside and chat. We got back home at 7:50pm and the electricity wasn’t on at the Pastoral House either. Kathy said it was unusual for the electricity to be out for that long. The store across the street from the Pastoral House was closed. They’re usually opened later but when the electricity is out everything shuts down. Thankfully, Jenny and I had thought ahead and bought a nice bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon to enjoy that evening

We walked inside and Cecilia lit several candles. Having red wine by candlelight sounded like a nice idea. I used my tiny flashlight to find the wine while Jenny got us a couple glasses. They weren’t wine glasses but it didn’t really matter since we were drinking it in the dark. Jenny and I poured ourselves a glass and relaxed. Kathy had a tiny glass and Linda joined us with some water. After a while Kathy and Linda went to bed while Jenny and I stayed at the table to chat. We sat back and reflected on the trip.

To our surprise, the lights came back on at 8:35pm. We could hear several people cheering from down the street. It was good to have the lights back, but we were a little dismayed because we’d planned on getting to bed early. But of course, now that we had electricity, that didn’t happen. Kathy came down briefly to say hi. She had also planned to get to sleep but needed to respond to some of the 31 emails she’d received. I decided to work on my blog for a while since I knew it was going to take a long time. Jenny sat next to me and was on the computer as well. Around 10pm we decided to call it a night. It was earlier than I usually go to bed so everything worked out just fine.

Dining on fish

Kathy's shrimp looked tasty
(note the candles on the table)


Group shot

Group shot with Warren

I'm cold!

Nice purple shirt you have there, Warren

The flash on my camera lit up the room