I love animals and people and today I had my fill of both. We drove to Colón today to deliver food packets to families there that are a gift from one of the churches in Iowa. Raul, the driver from El Tablón who owns the giant truck we use to haul fertilizer, drove to the Pastoral House today with his pickup to help us take the packets to Colón. We had a whole crew helping to load the truck: Raul, Alejandro, Mauricio, Javier, Blanca, Cecilia, Margarita, Kathy, and myself. Soon we had half the packets loaded into Raul’s pickup and the other half loaded in the Pastoral Team’s pickup. We were on the road by 8:15am.
The drive to Colón takes about 45 minutes and is very bumpy. I personally think it should count as a work out when you are riding inside the pickup on that road. One thing I love about the drive is all the torogoces we see along the way. The torogoz is the national bird of El Salvador and is absolutely beautiful. It’s easy to identify the torogoz because of its blue/green color and two long tail feathers. It also has a little bit of orange on it. We saw at least 15 on the way there. I guess they’ve really be making a comeback lately. That’s so exciting!!
We arrived in Colón around 9am. Not everyone had arrived yet so we had a little time to look around. The house where everyone was meeting to get their packets had a ton of animals. Kathy and I went over to go see the baby cow. It was pretty cute. And yes, I let it lick me. We also saw a sheep today with its little baby. The lamb had just been born this morning. It was adorable and couldn’t quite walk yet. We were told that it was a pelibuey. I later learned that pelibuey is a breed of sheep.
Then the young boy who lived at the house came out to talk to us. I’d guess he’s about 12. He led us over to an area behind the house. Inside a fenced in area was a little deer! I’ve never seen a deer here before. It was adorable! The boy went back inside the house and returned with some lettuce. The deer loved the lettuce and so did the chickens that it is living with. There used to be lots of deer in El Salvador but they’ve almost completely disappeared from the area. A lot of animals have disappeared from El Salvador due to deforestation of about 95% of the country.
Next to the deer area was a big bird house. There were lots of pigeons coming and going from it. I asked the boy if what the house was for. Were the pigeons pets? “Adornos,” he told me (decorations). That was the first time I’ve seen a pigeon house here although Kathy told me they’re not uncommon. We saw some pigs taking a nap behind the house. A group of three little pigs was sleeping together. The family also has two little pericos as pets. The pericos are what we call conures. Most of the conures in El Salvador I’ve seen as pets are half moon conures.
On one part of their property I saw a morro tree. Morro is kind of like a big gourd that grows on trees. It looks weird because it’s connected directly to the trunk and branches of the tree. I think this is the first time I’ve actually seen one. When they’re dried they are hard and people paint them, use them for bowls, jewelry, crafts, etc. Morro is used to make the brown earrings I buy at the women’s co-op here in Berlín. I’ve got it for several people as Christmas gifts before. And now I can finally say that I’ve seen one. There was another tree with gourds growing on it nearby. The gourds from those trees are dried and use as serving utensils or bowls. The ladies at the house use them a lot to scoop beans out of the pots.
The president of the Directiva was ready to get things started by 9:30am. He talked to the people in the community about the gifts they were receiving and then people began to receive their packages. Someone had a list of every family in the community and people were called out one by one to go get their package. It’s fun to watch people receiving their gifts. They are so grateful and often come over to say hello to us. I took some pictures of people getting their packages and walking back home.
After a while I decided I needed to get a picture of the other gourd tree. As I was standing there the young boy who showed us the deer walked over holding a little baby. I asked him who the baby was and he told me it was his nephew and he was 10 months old. Then the baby, whose name is Jerson, held out his little arms for me to hold him. I couldn’t resist! He was adorable! I’ve never had that happen here before. I held him for quite a while. We looked at the animals and at the crowd of people at the house.
He was such a smiley, happy baby and had fun playing with my necklaces. I had fun tipping him toward the ground and then bringing him back up again. He was laughing and giggling. One of the nephew’s friends came over and wanted to hold him as well. I handed him off to her. But soon he was squirming and reached out his arms again toward me. Wow! I felt pretty important. Kids don’t usually choose the gringo over Salvadoran. Eventually it was time to go and Kathy told me I could not take the baby with me. I gave him a hug and handed him off to his aunt (who is about 10).
Mooo! Baby cow!
Mommy and baby sheep
Toilets for outhouses
The little deer
The three little pigs
I couldn't resist playing with it
Lots of pots
The president of the Directiva
Waiting for the packages to be handed out
Someone from each of the 120 families came
Crossing names off the list
Lots of bags
Passing out the bags
The person in the truck is from the community
This old man is pretty cute
Kathy had to get a picture of her shirt
(the woman in the photo probably doesn't know what it means)
Waiting for someone
The boy who showed us the deer
Walking back home
Everyone comes to get their bag,
even people who have physical disabilities
I love this baby!
I like this old lady a lot too
Another kind of gourd
Please can he come home with us?!
Something interesting happened on the way home today which served as a great example as to why the rules created by Compañeros for delegates who visit El Salvador are so important. I was chatting with Kathy, Cecilia, and Mauricio on the way home from Colón. Mauricio said something about wanting to get a degree in psychology at the University. I said I could help him with that. Cecilia said, “Compromiso!” (commitment) and then Kathy said, “It’s only $2,000 a year.” We talked about how long it takes to go to school to get a psychology degree here.
About five minutes later it dawned on me what had just happened. When I said I could help I meant that I could help him study. Since I have a background in psychology, sociology, and social work and they all know my background I assumed they would understand that I meant help with studying. But what they heard was that I’d help with money. In all fairness to them, my exact words, “Puedo ayudar” (I can help) were very generic and could be interpreted many different ways. Looking back it seems so blatantly obvious that they could understand my response in a different way than what I meant. Thankfully, we joke around a lot at the Pastoral House so they would never expect me to pay.
Then I told Kathy about what I just realized. I said that this is a prime example as to why people from the US should 1) not promise things to people here without checking first with the Pastoral Team and 2) why people need to be very specific when discussing financial or other support. This is also a great example as to why having a good translator is so important. A good translator would probably pick up on what I was saying and clarify before translating.
This situation is also why it is so important to have the Pastoral Team present at meetings with the communities when delegates from the US are in El Salvador. That way if something comes out of our mouths that shouldn’t they can be there to correct us. Later at the house I explained the situation to Cecilia and she agreed that it was a good example of how things can be misunderstood sometimes between delegates and the people here. I might mean one thing but the meaning might be interpreted differently if I’m not specific and have the Pastoral Team with me. It was a very good learning opportunity for us all. I’m glad I can be an example of why the rules Compañeros has are so important. I’ve been down here almost two months now and I know the Compañeros rules very well. If it can happen to me if can happen to anybody.
We got home around 11am which was good because I had some things to work on. I spent most of the afternoon writing my blog for yesterday and today, looking at pictures, and working on things for school. The time seems to disappear around here really fast sometimes. Later this afternoon Idalia and Blanca came home from the market. They set a bag down in front of me and told me they’d got me a special cake for my birthday. It’s called volteado de piña, which means pineapple upside down cake. It was still warm and it smelled wonderful! I cut up the cake into 8 pieces and gave one to everyone who was here. It was absolutely delicious! I savored every bite of that cake. There are still 2 pieces left over. I wonder when I’ll devour them.
Dinner tonight was a tortilla with an egg fried inside. Delicious. I had one and split the second with Kathy. I was fuller than I had expected. I chatted with Matt and my mother-in-law for a while tonight which was nice. It’s fun being able to tell people all about my day. We’re going to church in the morning tomorrow and will be leading the singing so I’ll say goodnight for now!
Another little bud opened from my roses
Flowers at the Pastoral House
An orchid growing on the tree
Chelita is hiding in the grass
Yes, I would like some corn
My pineapple upside down birthday cake
Cake is no fun unless you share with those you love!
Everyone got to enjoy it!
Still pecking at mom's toes
And my finger too!
Look at how big she's getting