Well, we had our Field Based Training last week. It was four days at a volunteer's site doing activities with the volunteer and giving a Charla (informal talk) to school children. The first day we build a really large vermiculture box (composting with worms; totally cool!!!). It looked a lot like a coffin so I had Megan lay in it to take some Halloween pics. The next day we went and made some bee boxes for a local honey producer then we to see some bees. Megan and I have never been stung so we had the lovely epi pens (pure adrenaline) in case we are allergic. Not a good time to find out since we were very remote. Btw, it was an absolutely beautiful site. Jason's site (the volunteer we went to visit) is about an hour's walk south of the Honduras border (eastern El Salvador). They don't have electricity there, which was both good and bad
. The stars were amazing at night. So vibrant. My family was okay but the mom was really creepy. She would constantly watch me (were talking obsessively) getting really close and would just stare at me. I couldn't go anywhere without the little girl following me which included using the latrine and brushing my teeth. I quickly learned the bathing area wasn't as private as I was originally told. Anyways, the third day we gave our charlas which went over really well. Megan and I gave ours on vermiculture. We handed a worm around while we said our name and our favorite fruit or vegetable. After explaining vermiculture we had the kids go gather cow manure for the box. They really enjoyed that. After the charlas were over the kids came over for a fútbol (soccer) game. The guys went off and played on the field. Megan and I were pulled into playing games with the girls (see the photo album). After that we had lunch and went for our hike to an absolutely beautiful waterfall. We had to cross a river and ended up going into the water because the rocks didn't seem safe enough. We eventually got to the waterfall. It was absolutely beautiful. We jumped off a rock into the deep pools that were at the top of the waterfall to get to the other side then made our way to the edge of the waterfall. I was trying to climb out of the water while fighting to keep my wet jeans on without my belt and made it out but didn't get my balance and fell back in. I was able to push off the rock in time to avoid the nearby rocks and had enough time to scream and yell an explicative
. Getting back out was a bit difficult because the river was trying even harder to pull my pants off while I was trying to pull myself out of the water on slippery rocks and at the same time not moon the volunteer that came over to help me. We sat at the edge and just took in the view then made our way across a path of rocks to the other side which freaked out the Spanish teacher that was with us because we were so close to the edge and the current was really strong at that point. Megan and I both discovered how uncoordinated with both are at walking along rocks in a current. We were both holding onto each other screaming and tried not to be dragged in by the current. It totally reminded me of one of those scenes in movies where the old woman is talking about her adventures as a young girl with her friends. We eventually got back to Jason's host family's house. It was dark out and we were worn out from the hike and cold because we were still soaking wet and were high in the mountains. His host mom gave us coffee and pan dulce (sweet bread) that tasted just like a large cookie. We sat there looking at the stars and watching the lightning bugs flying around. I could have lived in that moment forever. It was bliss. That of course had to end. Once we were done with our coffee and bread we had to go home which consisted of going through some very thick woods and over a stream (yes, I know.....over a river and through the woods.....had that sung to me many a time while I was retelling the story) without any sort of light
. The moon wasn't out and the trees prevented any light from stars or other sources (no electricity so there was little). We stumbled our way along the path and through two barbed wire fences in the dark. We reached some points where the path became really steep and dangerous. We held hands to prevent each other from falling and a little more moral support. With it being pitch black my mind kept creating images of pumas or other random large animals flying out and attacking us. Eric mentioned he was doing that as well but told him not to say anything about it near Megan because she was really scared about walking. I eventually had to use the screen on my digital camera to create a glow along the path because it was simply too dangerous. We got to the river and I told Megan to let me finish crossing and then I would shine the glow back to her so she could cross. She was half way across when my camera decided to turn off. I turned it back on quickly and we had a good laugh about it once she got across. We took in the stars and how vibrant they are with no electricity and cold air. The next day we headed home. I had finally gotten sick (the fourth person in our group) from the river water we had been drinking in the refrescos so the ride was pretty unpleasant. We stopped in a town where every person had been murdered during the war except a little girl that had been praying in a tree and the army had missed her. She is coming to speak to us this week. It was a really intense experience.
We then went to visit a war museum and then headed home.
Wednesday November 2 was Dia de los Difuntos (similar to Dia de los Muertos). I went with my host brother in the morning with his half sister and some of her kids (she has 7) to decorate his little sister's grave and their grandparents' graves on his father's side. I went with him to his sister's grave and we cleaned it off and decorated it with fake flowers. The graveyard was packed with people painting graves and decorating them. While I was looking at his sister's grave he turned to me and said his father might be there. I could see the pain and anger in his eyes' and thought how strange it is our lives are so similar. His father abandoned them when he was young and pretends he doesn't see them or know who they are on the street. It is really interesting having that connection with them.
That Friday we traveled into San Sebastian where they have a lot of hammocks and other artisans crafts. We really wanted to check it out and buy hammocks for our sites. They had really beautiful crafts and we got to watch some men making the hammocks. It was pretty awesome. The next day we were going to go check out some ruins that were preserved in volcanic ash (El Salvador's Pompey). While we were waiting for our ride from Mark (one of the staff members) we noticed a chicken trying to eat something
. We went over to check it out and it was a coral snake. I of course got a picture. This is my second coral snake here. It is really strange since they aren't common. Additionally, each time we have seen one it was the same day Mark came to our community. I asked him to come back in a couple of weeks to see if it is him or me.
When we got back from the ruins I went home and soon after some of my host mom's brother's showed up. They are pretty cool but I knew came to see their dying father. I went into my room and some girl (I think one of the cousins) pulled back my curtain to look in my room then just walked in. One thing we have been taught and I am learning is important is to set boundaries on where people can come. I was not down with someone I don't know walking into my room uninvited or unannounced. The night before I had a bunch of random children come into the house and watch me knit while I was laying on the hammock. They totally surrounded me but since it wasn't my room I didn't mind too much. She left quickly once she realized I wasn't down with having her in there. A bunch of people were coming in and out of his room and would always run into my curtain or fall into my room a bit. I put some head phones on and listed to some hard rock so that I wouldn't be disturbed by all the commotion. I decided I needed a break and was going to go over to Donee and Jason's
. I turned my music off and removed my head phones and heard a bunch of people saying the same thing together (some prayer or something). There was a priest in the room saying prayers and everyone would copy what he said. It totally gave me chills with how many people were there and I had no idea it was going on cuz of my music. I came out of my room and saw a ton of people crammed into his corner. I left and went over to Donee and Jason's.
Donee and Jason have had a bit of bad luck with animals as well. They have now have had four scorpions in their room and that evening Donee nearly stepped on one in the kitchen right after a huge cockroach jumped onto her pillow. She had gone into the kitchen to get me some candy because their host mom had bought some so when their host mom walked into the room later with a bag and told us to come look (she was standing right behind me) we figured it was candy. She then pulled out a crab, which got me out of my chair and to the other side of the room before I realized what was going on. Donee jumped up and I stayed behind her. Jason just started laughing and commented on how things like this only happen in the Peace Corps. It was certainly an exciting day. I was stuck at their house until the rains died down a bit because although we are supposedly in dry season I think another hurricane is coming through (we get no news here so we have no idea). I took me back to our second week here being stuck in our houses all day while the rain and wind raged outside.
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