We spent a lot of time in the truck and walking around today. We left the Pastoral House a little after 8:00am and arrived in Casa de Zinc around 8:45am. The folks from Trinity Presbyterian Church in Indianola partner with the caserío of Casa de Zinc. They had a census of the community and were going around to all the houses to confirm the names & ages of the members of each family. They also asked if their children were in school and if they received and were using their water filters. After asking each question they presented each family with a guacal (plastic basin) containing toothbrushes, toothpaste, a English/Spanish book, different kinds of soap, acetaminophen, antacids, allergy meds, spices, oil, sugar, salt, noodles, dried milk, rice, & cookies. They also took a picture of each family; there are 14 families in total.
We began by having a meeting with the community. They had planned out an agenda for us. The members of a committee that represent the community began with greetings and welcome from each of the committee members. Then we had a prayer and each person who was at the meeting (several people from the community were there) told us their name. After they had presented to us we all took turns telling them our names, where we were from, and how happy we were to be there.
Then the members of the Pastoral Team who were there (Blanca, Cecilia, & Jesús) introduced themselves and spent some time talking to the community. Blanca talked to the community leaders about what their duties were as a committee and basically told them what was expected of them in their partnership with the Pastoral House and Trinity Presbyterian. She also talked to them about taking notes during their meetings, collecting dues, keeping a ledger, maintaining an attendance sheet, and attending bi-monthly meetings at the Pastoral House.
At 10:15 the meeting ended and we began going door to door to see the families. We managed to stuff 17 people into the back of the pickup truck and then we were on our way. We saw lots of families, gave many hugs, and spent a lot of time talking to each family. Most of the people in the cantons are farmers. Many do not own their own land; the land they farm or the land they live on. Many children aren’t able to go school because they are needed at home, their family doesn’t have the money, or it is too far to walk. The kids who do go to school have to walk to the school in San Francisco, which is about 3 miles away on bumpy & hilly country roads.
Some of the sights we saw were a couple kids walking around pantless (very typical), turkeys mating, and lots of pet birds and cats. There are always people without shoes, without teeth, and without suitable clothes. In one young family the dad stayed home on weekends with the child so the mom could go to school. This is extremely unusual in El Salvador. Kathy shook his hand and we all applauded him. People are also very grateful and want to share things with you regardless of how little they have. One family gave us two giant stalks of plantains from their land.
At 1:00pm we finished with most of the census and went to a house to eat lunch. Lunch today was chicken, rice, tortillas, guisquil (a kind of squash), green beans, potatoes, and pipian (another kind of squash). It was all delicious, especially after all that walking. The chicken was a bit tough, but that’s pretty typical for canton country chicken. After lunch we had two more stops to make in Casa de Zinc and then we proceeded on to Casa de Zacate at 2:10pm.
Meeting in Casa de Zinc
Members of the Directiva
Road up to a steep ridge
I can see for miles
Inside a house in Casa de Zinc
One of the families in Casa de Zinc
Backing the truck down a steep road
Margaret presenting gifts to a family
Excitment about the gifts
Betty taking down information
Little boy playing on the ground
Gobble, gobble, gobble
Teeny tiny kitty!
Please can I take her home?
I really love her
Why of course you can have this cat, Alisha
And perhaps we can get a small bird next week
Lunch in Casa de Zinc
Yeehaw & Hola!
The good was great.
We can't eat anymore!
The look like little rats
Mother and Daughter
Maurice and Larry carrying a heavy load
We arrived in Casa de Zacate around 2:30pm. The Directiva (the committee of the community) were all there waiting for us. This community doesn’t have a relationship with any church right now but Linda (First Presbyterian Church of Lucas and First Presbyterian Church of Sheritan) and Elizabeth’s (Clifton Heights Presbyterian) churches are looking into forming a relationship with them. So this was an informational/meet and greet type meeting.
The members of the Directiva introduced themselves and welcomed us. Then they told us about the projects they have completed with the help of the Pastoral House and City Hall. With the help of the Pastoral House they put up a retaining wall in their community, a roof over the area they meet, a fence around the meeting area, they were a part of the water filter project, and had chairs donated to them. With the help of City Hall they obtained tanks to collect water, had electricity brought to their caserío, and had 7 new houses built for the poorest in the community.
The members of the Pastoral Team introduced themselves and spoke briefly to the Directiva about similar issues they’d talked to the committee of Casa de Zinc. The meeting ended at 3:00pm and began to go door to door. There are 21 families in Casa de Zacate and we visited 14 of them today. We’ll visit the rest of them tomorrow. Linda and Elizabeth had brought handmade aprons for the women, hats for the men, fruit roll-ups for the kids, and a card for each family. The conditions of the homes and land were similar to what we saw in Casa de Zinc (this is the way it is in most cantons & caseríos) but the houses were much closer together. The kids from Casa de Zacate also often walk to the school in San Francisco, which is about 5 miles one way on the canton roads. To give you an idea of how long that would take them to walk I can tell you that it took us about 50 minutes to get there by truck. Now that’s dedication to school.
Meeting in Casa de Zacate
Well hello there little friend
Elizabeth and Sandy giving their gifts to the families
A hat, apron, & a card
Greeting another family in Casa de Zacate
A young girl eating a fruit rollup
Holding on to mom
Family in a hammock
We said goodbye to the people and told them we’d be back tomorrow after church. We got back to the house today at 5:10. We had about an hour to relax before dinner. Dinner tonight was casamiento (rice & beans), baked potatoes, and empanadas. Empanadas are mashed plantains that the women form in their hands and fill with cream or beans. They are delectable and I had three of them.
Much time after dinner was spent making decorations for a celebration in the community of Alejandría (where Cecilia, Blanca, Balmore, Idalia, & Jesús live). The celebration will be taking place next week. We made fringe streamers from plastic tablecloth-like material that the Pastoral House ladies had bought. We all got a little bit goofy when we were creating the streamers. At one point Maurice put the streamers around his waist like a grass skirt and began to dance. We thought he needed music so I put on some luau music I have on my computer. It was a lot of fun and there was a great deal of laughter. The decoration making ended with a bang when Barbara the duck began furiously flapping her wings for almost a minute. I guess she wanted some attention.
Alisha, the blog mistress
Quote of the day: White-winged dove: the other white meat
New name: Linda – One who breaks clocks
Maurice’s bank robbing name – Crybaby Dyer
A little girl at the Pastoral Hose
Staple faster! Faster! FASTER!
On to pink
Double-checking each piece of fringe
The only source of quality control