Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fertilizer for Alejandría

Wednesday, 3-30-11

The morning started early when I dragged myself out of bed at 5:30am. As I’ve said before, I’m not a morning person. I loathe getting up early and will sleep in every opportunity I can. But I did not have that kind of luck today. I needed to be up early to go to Mercedes Umaña at 6am with Jerry and Cecilia to get fertilizer for Alejandría. I’d showered yesterday after I came home so I didn’t have to do that today. I got Chelita out of her guacal where she sleeps at night and put her in the backyard with Barbara. I gave her fresh food and water and she happily ate breakfast.

When the truck hadn’t shown up at 6am I got out my computer to try to finish my blog from yesterday. My mom was online and called me on Skype. She wondered what I was doing up so early (she knows me well). I explained that we were going to get fertilizer. I didn’t have classes today because the teachers had a school wide meeting. I introduced her to my bird (perico) who still didn’t have a name. My mom thought she was pretty cute. After I finished talking to my mom my bird climbed up onto my head. Kathy said something about poo being good for your hair but I didn’t believe her. Jerry said I should change my name to Alisha Dolittle since I have yet another pet. Not sure about that either.

The truck showed up at 6:30am and we left for Mercedes Umaña. It only takes about 20-25 minutes to get there. There wasn’t a whole lot for us to do when we got there except wait. Cecilia went to Mercedes to pay the bill and get the receipt, Jerry went to watch since he partners with Alejandría, and I’m not sure why I went other than I was told I had to go. Because when Kathy says “Jump,” I say “How high?” Okay, not really. I was glad I got to go. I like to be a part of the behind-the-scenes action. Plus it’s fun riding in the back of the truck with all the fertilizer.

We watched the guys load the fertilizer for a while and looked around a little bit. This is the same store where I got Chelita. The owner asked me how she was doing and I told him she was doing well and getting bigger. There’s a cat that lives at the store but Cecilia said I could not take it home with me. I got some pictures of her instead. Around 8:00am the fertilizer was all loaded and we headed back to Berlín. It was a hot but nice ride back. I saw lots of mangos in the trees even a couple torogoces flying overhead.

We got back to the house around 8:30am. We were expecting to pick up a couple people and leave right away but that didn’t happen. Instead, some of the fertilizer from the big truck was loaded onto the smaller truck to take it to the other side of Alejandría (the other side of the ravine). This was going to take two trips and we’d probably have to wait about an hour at the house. So I got out my computer and worked on my blog from yesterday a little more. It was huge but I finally got it finished and posted.

Then I went and got my perico from her little, temporary cage. I put her on my shoulder and we worked on a couple things on the computer. Jerry saw me and said all I needed now was a peg leg and a hook. Not sure where to buy those things in Berlín but there’s got to be a place, right? Ha ha ha, probably not. I’ll just have to wait until another delegation comes down and they can bring me a peg leg and hook. Then I’ll be a real pirate.

Speaking of my new bird friend, we finally got around to naming her. When Aminta first suggested the name I thought she said, “Chelita” which is the name of my chicken. But then Kathy told me she actually said, “Chenita.” Aminta is very wise and it’s a pretty name so I decided to take her advice. My new perico’s name is Chenita. I decided to look up the meaning of the name. From what I understand it comes from the name “Chenoa” which is a girl’s name of Native American origin meaning “white dove.” Aminta told us it was also an indigenous name in this country. And if anyone would know that, it would be Aminta.

We were ready to leave about 10am for Alejandría. Jerry and I again rode in the back of the big flatbed truck that still had some fertilizer on it. Kathy followed behind us in the pickup with Mauricio and Cecilia. There was a surprise waiting for Jerry in Alejandría but I was instructed not to tell him what it was. When the truck pulled up we saw the soccer team from Alejandría in their new uniforms. It took him a couple seconds and then he realized what was going on. Then he saw the back of the kids’ shirts and said, “Hey, wait a minute, that kid has my name on his shirt.” Yes indeed, Team “Jerry” was there waiting for him to show him their new uniforms. The name “Jerry” is in quotes because his Spanish name is Geraldo.

We hopped out of the truck and went to say hi to everyone. The uniforms are all black with orange lettering and also came with socks and cleats. They all looked very sharp in their uniforms and seemed very excited. We got a group shot of everyone on the team and then we got one with Jerry. He was beaming like a proud father. After the photos he gave them all a pep talk and spoke about the importance of not settling disputes they had off the field with fighting. He encouraged them to go practice if they were feeling angry instead of fighting. And if they lost a game they still needed to shake the hand of their opponents. This was great and something that all young men in El Salvador should hear. Jerry also said that when St. Boniface comes in June that the team from El Recreo (St. Boniface’s partner canton) should play Alejandría. They all thought that was a great idea.

Shortly after that people began to gather around. Blanca spoke for a while about the fertilizer that was being given to the community. Then her husband, Balmore, who is the president of the Directiva in Alejandría, also spoke and expressed many thanks for the fertilizer. Several people from the community also came forward to express their gratitude to Jerry for the fertilizer. Then it was time to start hauling away the fertilizer. The soccer team had changed out of their uniforms so they could help unload the truck and carry the fertilizer to peoples’ houses. It was great to see the youth of the community helping with such an important job. I was amazed that they could carry the 220 pound bags of fertilizer! These kids are in great shape even though they all have skinny, little legs. I heard a story about a couple guys from the US who tried to carry the fertilizer once and were quickly put to shame. The people in El Salvador are deceptively strong.

After all the fertilizer had been delivered we went a short ways up the road to eat lunch at Rosa Vilma’s house. I looked around beforehand at all the beautiful flowers she has in her garden. There were several I didn’t recognize and many that I did. I love looking around at people’s houses. It gives me a better idea of what life is like for them. We had a delicious meal of beef, salad, rice, potatoes, and tortillas. It was all tasty and we were hungry. When we’d finished Balmore carried some corn to the truck that was given by families in Alejandría to the Pastoral House. The Pastoral House gives away corn to people who come to the door looking for food. Like I’ve written in previous blogs, the harvest was very bad this year and many people don’t know where they’re going to get food. The corn is a gift to people who are hungry. As the ladies say, “There’s always someone less fortunate than you.”

I love her!

Taking a nap on the fertilizer

Major snooze time

220 pounds of fertilizer

The ramp to the truck

He did most of the work

In front of the store in Mercedes Umana

What appears to be a cotton tree

Getting loaded

$33 for a pound of watermelon seeds

Che Guevara bumper sticker

Riding on top


We're back in Berlin

Driving behind us to Alejandria

Some of the decorations are still up in Alejandria
from the celebration of electricity and running
water last month

Arriving in Alejandria

Some of the fertilizer went in the small pickup to be
dropped off on the other side of the ravine

You look surprised, Jerry

The soccer team in Alejandria in their new uniforms

Playing around

Checking everything out

Jerry and the team

Team "Jerry"

The back of the uniforms

Looks like Jerry has another toy

It's a foam rocket launcher!

The kids love it

Everyone gathered around before receiving fertilizer

Lola and Pilar
Jesus' mom and aunt

Thanking Jerry for the fertilizer

Listening to everyone

The unloading begins

Those bags are heavy!

Carrying it away to peoples' houses

Back-breaking work

The soccer team helped out

These guys are strong

Not sure why he took one hand off the bag

Cecilia's mom, Rosa, signing for her fertilizer

Everyone either signed or stamped with their finger

Signing with a fingerprint

A big pig in the back of a truck on its way to Berlin

Saying hello to another pig

A beautiful flower in someone's yard

More pretty flowers


Let's eat

Wasp nest

A bag full of corn

That weighed more than 220 pounds
And he has bad knees

Two little kiddles holding on tight
in the back of the pickup

We were back at the house by 1pm. I spent a little time giving Chenita some water and trying to get her to eat some food. She enjoyed her bowl of water but wasn’t hungry yet. Tomorrow we’ve going to get a cage for her. Then around 2:30pm Raul (the driver from El Tablón) arrived to take Kathy to the hotel in San Salvador. She’s leaving early tomorrow morning for the States. She has lots of presentations, lunches, and even Sunday morning talks planned. She’ll be back on April 18. I’m definitely going to miss her a lot. I often go up to her office to ask questions about something we did, somewhere we went, why things are done a certain way, etc. Plus when I don’t understand something in Spanish she’s there to explain it to me.

After Kathy left I felt a little sad. I got teary and decided that I needed to get out of the house to do something. So Jerry and I went for a walk to get ice cream. I wasn’t feeling too hungry so I only got one scoop. We walked around town a little while and through the park. We saw the walls in the park that Pedro has been painting. He’s one of the translators the Pastoral Team uses. Then we walked back to the ice cream store to get a couple ice cream bars for the ladies. We dropped them off at the house and decided to go for a walk up to the boy’s school where I teach.

As we were walking we ran into Pedro, which was funny because we’d just been talking about him. He was busy painting someone’s house. We ended up talking to him for almost an hour about painting, tattoos, translating, etc. It’s always fun when you get sidetracked here and end up having a great conversation with someone. I even helped him out with something he didn’t know regarding a tree here. He was telling us that City Hall hired him to paint the walls around the town center/park of Berlín. They gave him some ideas of things they wanted painted. He was describing the long seed pods of a kind of tree they wanted him to paint but he couldn’t remember the name or what it looked it. I asked him if it was the carao tree and he said yes! That’s something new I’ve learned about on this trip. The carao tree has pink flowers all over and long, brown pods full of seeds and pulp. I even have a picture of it. So he’s going to stop by sometime to see the picture I have. Although Pedro was born here he just moved back to El Salvador from the States several years ago so he’s learning about the country as well.

We said goodbye to Pedro and walked a little further up to the school. We saw that the doors were open so we went inside to look around. The director was there and he said I could show Jerry around. He saw where all my classrooms are, the big open area in the middle of the school, where the office is, and where I give the teachers English lessons. Then the director showed us a couple rooms I hadn’t been in before. One is the room that has just recently been finished that will be a computer room. It will even have air-conditioning so the computers won’t overheat. The school doesn’t have a computer room yet and there’s actually only one computer in use at the school. Right now they’re trying to find someone who can teach computer classes to the kids.

Then we saw a room that holds a bunch of donated computers that will eventually be used in the new classroom. Unfortunately, some of the computers were damaged during an electrical fire. Thankfully, others are okay and can be used. The room also has material that will be used for new school uniforms. Starting last year with the new federal government, all the schools in the country were promised material for uniforms for kids as well as school supplies. They are doing the same this year which will ensure more kids going to school who originally would not have gone due to cost of those materials.

Finally, we saw the room where the food is stored. The food is also given by the government for the kids. Since all schools are only half-day, with some students going in the morning and some going in the afternoon, the kids get food in the middle of their class day. Many of the meals are rice or bean based. The tortillas and pupusas are all made with rice. Though the government donates the food it’s the parents of the students who volunteer to cook the food. The director told us that even a few dads come to help cook. That’s very cool, especially in El Salvador where there is still a lot of machismo attitude.

We said goodbye to the director and thanked him for his time then began our walk home. On our way home we ran into someone from El Recreo who Jerry knew. We stopped to talk to him for a while as well. Right now he’s doing some sort of political work in Berlín and walks back and forth every day from El Recreo. His still has his farm that he works on as well. There’s not a whole lot of rest for those who live in the cantons. It was nice to talk to him and we didn't end up getting home until 5:30pm. It has been a long day indeed. I’m ready to get in bed and go to sleep.

Yes, I would like a drink

This is more like it


The new computer room at the boy's school
They've never had a computer room or classes before
Not sure when it will be up and running

Looking at the computers damaged in the fire

Material for the uniforms for the boy's school

This is where the fire started

Room where the food provided
by the government is kept