Showing posts from December, 2011

Fiesta, Fiesta, and more Fiestas

Last night I went to the Fiestas Patronales in Antiguo Cuscutlan here in San Salvador.  The night started off by sitting in tons of traffic because the 28th is a big night for the fiesta.  We then ate at a Mexican Restaurant called Andale where I ate the best tacos of my life.  After that we walked two blocks to the downtown area which was the center of the fiesta.  It was full of people; so much so, at times, I had flashbacks of walking through the crowds in New Orleans on Fat Tuesday.  Not that the fiestas here could even compare to the mayhem in New Orleans.  However, the fiestas could compete with Mardis Gras with the simple fact that it is probably more dangerous in the sense of fireworks being shot off directly into the crowd and stampedes of people trying to run away from the firework shooting bull.

A Salvadoran Christmas Treat: Mazapán



These engagement pictures were taken by the amazing Karen Nichols.  These haven't been worked on but I wanted to put up a few as a preview.

Engagement Shots

Today was the big day; engagement photo day.  We went to three different places.  The first place was Calle del Carmen in Santa Tecla which has a very traditional street look with many cafes and restaurants with bright colors.  It is a very picturesque street.  We then went to a botanical garden that had a waterfall and a huge bamboo forest.  Last, but not least, was our graffiti wall.  For us this spot was the most meaningful.

One of Ruben's friend painted this wall for us.  The area was a little shady, we had to move a cardboard home and ask a drunk guy to please move for a little bit so we could take pictures.  He didn't seem to mind as he was yelling obscene things about me as we took pictures.  Before we took the pictures Ruben and his friends all agreed it would be better for us to find a cop to stand by Karen, the photographer, so she could take the pictures and not worry about what was going on around her. So we waited and waited and didn't see one cop.  Ruben took…

Festival of the Open Doors

Festival de las Puertas Abiertas in Santa Tecla is an open door festival.  It is a way to attract tourism to this area of San Salvador.  The strip has tons of really neat cafes and restaurants, which are all open, and the streets filled with vendors all from the same area.
 This is the Catholic church in Santa Tecla which looks more like a castle. This picture reminds of the movie Romeo and Juliet with Leonardo Dicrapio.

 We watched a traditional display of the running of the bulls, even though it appears to be a cow. Two old men played music, one on a flute and the other a drum, and they lit the "bulls" and a guy held it over his heard and ran like a bull through the crowd.  It was kind of scary but very cool.
 On every corner there were different types of music. This group was playing Samba.
 Ponche is a traditional drink that you can get with our without alcohol.  They make it in these big, cast iron pots.  I half way expected to see Jambalaya cooking when I first saw …

Best Park in Central America

When I left El Salvador in August the government must have been working on the construction of the Parque Bicentenario ( Bicentennial Park) because it was opened in November for El Salvador's bicentennial. Just recently when I drove past the park I immediately wanted to go explore. For the first time, last week, Ruben and I decided to hit the trails running.  It is a big park with 129 manzanas and there are 1.73 acres in one manzana.  There are various trails to choose from and we just recently ran the perimeter of the park  which was about 3 miles.  For me this park brings trail running to a whole new level.  There are lots of hills, butterflies, beautiful flowers, and coffee plants.  There is also a little community that works the coffee farms so as your are running in the middle of San Salvador you can easily imagine you are running through the mountains in Tacuba.  This past run included the people from the community harvesting the coffee which is something I had never actuall…

Sacagawea in El Salvador

Sacagawea has made her way to El Salvador.  If I buy a coke and pay with a five dollar bill I can just about guarantee I will get four golden dollars back as my change.  It is as if the US sent all the coins here due to their "popularity" in the States.  Even though the golden dollar was first minted in 2000, eleven years later, it is the new craze here in El Salvador.  Though it is not really by choice. It is quite annoying because now my purse is ten pounds heavier due to the beloved coin.  Just a side note, as some may be wondering why we are using the American dollar in El Salvador, they switched currency from the colon to the dollar in 2001.

Reunion With My Kids

Last night I went to the King's Castle International Training camp to see all my kids that I used to work with.  Every year, except one, that I have lived in El Salvador I have been a part of the Guardian of the Vision Christmas camp.  I really wanted to help out this week but I couldn't because all the teachers were required to be at work for meetings and planning for the next school year.  However, I made it out there last night and it was so great to see everyone that I used to work with and, of course, all the children.  The children's pastor called Ruben and myself up on stage and introduced us.  All of my friends new we were engaged but many of the children did not so they were very surprised.  It was a lot of fun but emotionally it felt very odd being there as a visitor instead of a leader.  But I feel at complete peace in what I am doing now.  That season of my life is over and I'm moving into a new and different place in my life and I'm so excited to see…

Game Training

Yesterday, after work, I went with Ruben to the department of Metapán.  It is about a two hour drive going towards Guatemala.  I had never worked in Metapán before; I had only driven through.   We were in the actual city and we went to meet with some youth group leaders to help them in the planning of the recreation activities for the youth camp they are having this weekend.   It was a lot of fun getting to know them and teaching them games by playing games.  One may not think that leading games is a difficult task but when working with children and youth it is very important to know what you are doing.  It isn't just explaining the games but being energetic so the young people stay interested.    

Teaching English Abroad

These past four and a half years of working as a missionary has been mixed with a lot of English teaching  in which I discovered that I really enjoy.  I have always liked teaching and while I was at home, recently, I took a TEFL course to receive my certification to teach English as a foreign language.  I have now been hired to work at a Latin America Child Care School in El Salvador.  The typical school year, in El Salvador, is mid January through mid November.  Right now there are summer classes but I'm not teaching yet.  However, the teachers are working from 8-noon everyday until the 15.  So I have started on lessing plans and reviewing the class material. I was asked to sub yesterday for a high school conversation class which was fun and I was able to get to know some of my future students.  I am going to be teaching English Literature to grades 7-11.

Wedding Venue

Ruben did a great job of finding a place for our wedding.  Because I was in the States he, with two of his friends, went looking for the perfect place to have our wedding.  We both decided that Hotel Bahia Dorado would be the location of the wedding.  Yesterday, we went to the Hotel so I could see it in person.  It is exactly what I had imagined and I know that it is going to be beautiful.

Hand Delivered Invitations

It is customary in El Salvador to hand deliver wedding invitations.  One reason is most people don't have mailboxes.  The other reason, I think, is simply to visit and personally invite those whom you want to share your wedding day with.  Ruben had already started giving out some of the invitations but we visited a few different people and gave them their invitations.  It was different but much more personal.  However, it does take a lot longer to get the invitations out. So we will probably be working on this for the entire month.

Rural Social Development Project

My fiance, Ruben, has been working with a NGO called FUNDESYRAM.  It was founded and its offices are based in Tacuba.  He has been working with older women on Wednesdays and teenagers on Thursdays.  Ruben asked me if I would like to come along and help him today.  I had worked in that area this past summer and I thought it would be a neat experience.  The majority of these teenagers have dropped out of school so they can work and help support their families. Most of them cut coffee at $1.25 a sack.  The hours being 4 am to 4 pm. In that specific area of the country they said this year has been one of the best coffee harvest that they have had in a really long time.  FUNDESYRAM is a non profit organization established to contribute to the development in rural and urban life. With agricultural, social, educational, and restoration projects with a focus on gender. Ruben was teaching a workshop on working together in a team, power of communication, and how you view and identify yourself. …