Thursday, January 29, 2009


Well, we are back in the frigid north... and I am here with very mixed feelings. Certainly, I am happy to be with people I love and who care enough for us in return to take us in during our time of need. I also know this was the best thing for our family. I am, however, seriously lamenting the fact that this had to happen in the first place. I want to be home and La Hija, while very excited to be with her Nuhnuh, keeps saying she wants to go home to El Salvador.

I had to buy some warm clothes yesterday, as I was seriously lacking in that department. I've got a ton of work clothes (definitely a good thing) but not so many items of casual winter clothes. Indiana was not as cold as Michigan.

Mi Amor is in the middle of working a 2 week long festival, and I really hope it is going well. We are hoping this will give him the financial leg up he needs to get ready to relocate, and the relocation will allow us to return much more quickly.

In the meantime, I'm applying for jobs and hope to be able to get out to campus today to get info on when I can start school.

In other news, there is an 80 degree difference between here and El Salvador.

I am cold.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The next major task

We are headed back to the US on Tuesday morning, so I've got a bit of work ahead of me. Mostly, I need to figure out what essentials I need to bring with us so that we can have what we need and still have plenty of room in our suitcases to bring more stuff back with us upon our return. I also have to get boxes together to pack up La Hija's toys so that they don't get too dirty in the coming months.

I've started packing what I know I'll need: my work clothes and shoes, as well as La Hija's long pants and sneakers. I want to bring back as little as possible.

This trip back is so interesting because Mi Amor and I have completely changed roles. Upon prior departures, Mi Amor was always the one in need of reassurance. I was always the one saying, "We'll be back in May... it'll go by fast!" This time around, I'm the one needing to hear that this will only be a short trip home. Mi Amor is confident that we can come back by May, and I truly hope he's right. In the meantime, I'm just going to do whatever I can to bring as many positive things out of this situation as possible. At the very least, I plan to make some money, spend some time with the family, work on getting my teaching license and start formulating a TOEFL curriculum for my return.

Incidentally, the new English school I wrote of previously is very literally new. In fact, they haven't even started hiring teachers yet. I will be sending them a resume in the hopes of having something, even a part-time something, do to if we are still located here upon our return.

We are taking a rather strange flight this time around. We are first flying to Managua, then to the US. There is a mere 30 minutes between when our flight is to land in Managua and when our flight to the US departs, so there is a chance we'll be spending some time there. Gotta love adventures. I'm trying not to worry about what will happen if we are stranded in Nicaragua for a night... we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Here and There

There are many differences between life in El Salvador and in the US. The differences are most prevalent in with respect to every day household matters. In the US, I was used to lots of storage space, a pretty much all enclosed living space, hot water, and laundromat laundry. Let's just say I was spoiled.

Closets/Storage Space
Most houses in El Salvador don't have closets and have very little, if any, storage space. The house we are in how actually has a rather large closet in the master bedroom, but this is the first house we've been in a with a closet. You either have to go out and buy wardrobes, put all your clothes in a dresser. We bought a bought a nice dresser that is about 4 ft. across, has a mirror, two locking drawers and three long drawers for $130. It was well worth it, and a bargain by American standards, as it is first piece of particle-board-free furniture that I've owned in I don't know how long. Kitchens also seriously lack storage. There are typically no cabinets, cupboards or drawers, so you're left to your own devices for storage there as well. We've solved this problem by using these shallow, stacking, plastic bins... they work well just about everywhere and run about $13 a pop.

(Literally) Open Floor Plans
One thing that I've noticed about almost every house we've lived in or been in here, is that some part of it is open to the elements. Typically, there is a courtyard or patio or small back yard--mostly because you need somewhere to do the wash! Right now, our home is completely open--as in every room opens to the outside and we have a rather large courtyard with a mango tree in the center. It's nice because it provides a decent amount of space, and gives Mi Amor room to work... it does, however, still have its problems.

The courtyard is tiled with outdoor brick-like tiles, and we have a few flower beds, so we're not talking about living around a lot of dirt. You wouldn't know it though! I have to sweep the living areas of our house every morning and mop every other morning, just to keep the place remotely clean. It's still a constant battle. The dirt just finds its way everywhere! It's not as bad as the last house, which somehow attracted this horrible film of black dirt every morning, but still. This constant battle with the elements and dirt is one thing I really have a hard time with. I get frustrated at times because it feels like everything gets dirty just as soon as I clean it.

Hot Water
There is none, unless it's warmed by the sun. This is something I've gotten used to, but I think I'll be investing in a one of these at some point because the water is just too cold in the morning. Mi Amor stresses that it's good for the body, and I'm sure it is. It's just not good for my mind!! All dish and clothes washing done at home is done in cold water, and is leaving my hands rather... rough.

While we are lucky enough to have a separate sink in the kitchen, where we do some of the wash, most of the dishes and all of our hand washed laundry is done in the sink above. On the left is a large water reservoir, which is convenient when the water pressure is nil during the day (which actually hasn't happened for a while). The downside to these reservoirs (there are typically large reservoirs in the shower area too) is that they are breeding grounds for mosquitoes and need to be emptied and cleaned weekly. On the right is a basin where the wash is actually done.

The other problem with no hot water is figuring out how to bathe children.

La Hija is not a fan of the cold water, so I've taken to trying to make it play time for her. The water gets warm from the sun, and it's typically hot enough to make cool water feel more than refreshing. We still haven't gotten to a point where she will let me wash her hair without a fight, though.

Overall, I'm really fine with the differences. I may be bringing back some less harsh dish detergent, however. My hands feel like sandpaper

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Buena suerte??

So I was walking to the corner market and what did I see? Signs for a new English language school in town! IN TOWN!! We're going to check them out tomorrow to see if they are hiring and what the pay would be. This isn't going to solve our money problems and prevent me from having to return to the states for a bit, but it could very well make it possible for us to return much more quickly.

Tomorrow we are planning a family day. We may go to the beach or perhaps just roam around--the point being we're getting out to do something other than work or take care of household business. Well... we have to go grocery shopping too, but as long as we do something else besides that, I'll be happy.

We are very low on food and I had no meat to cook for Mi Amor's lunch today, so I used what we had and made some egg salad. Unbeknownst to me, he'd never had it before and is now a huge fan. I was also told that I make better rice than his Tia... and that, my friends, is one of the biggest compliments I've ever gotten!! :)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sorting it out and other nonsensical ramblings

Things are coming together.


Yes, La Hija and I are still returning to the states on a temporary basis, but Mi Amor and I have a time line and some goals we've set out.

We also have a plan B, so we can make sure this is temporary and a few months doesn't turn into another 2 year separation.

We've also decided that I am going to go back to school to get my teaching certification. I can do most of the program online, and when it comes time for me to do my student teaching, La Hija and I will again return to the states for a semester. This will allow me to get a much higher paying teaching job down here than the one I'll have in a few months.

Local governmental elections are tomorrow, so we'll see how that goes. Interestingly enough, we had amazing water pressure during the day today, which is very unusual. We decided it was all too convenient that the day before elections we've got water galore.

Mi Amor is going to work in the morning to take advantage of having a bunch of hungry voters around, and we hope to have a little BBQ with his sister and her daughter in the afternoon. Monday he has a new employee starting. Here's hoping this one likes the work and sticks around.

Speaking of employment, the woman who cleaned our house a few weeks ago came back the other day!! I was so excited--both because she does a great job and that makes keeping it all up easier during the week, and because La Hija really enjoys playing with her daughter... not to mention that it gave me a little bit of faith in people taking advantage of the opportunities presented to them. I'm curious if she will come again this week.

Last but not least, I'm still waiting for the mangoes to ripen. I hope I get to taste at least one before I go. We've used some of them already with salt and limón, but I really want a nice, sweet mango!!

Friday, January 16, 2009


So there's definitely a plethora of insects, birds and other little things hanging out here at the house. We have a family of doves living in our mango tree, a plethora of 1/2-inch ants, a multitude of spiders, half a billion mosquitoes, flies galore, and a handful of lizards living with us. The lizards are by far my favorite.

This little guy lives behind our toilet. He's teeny--just about an inch long--and so fast you'd miss him if you blinked!

This is one of at least four adult lizards we have in the house. One of them lost its tail and it makes me wonder what else we have creeping around he could have scrapped with to lose his behind.

One thing is for sure, for such a tiny creature, they make a lot of noise. I had no clue that reptiles can make little chirping sounds, but these do... and they do so rather loudly!!

Evidently, these guys are native Hondurans who end up hitching rides on plátano shipments.

Finally, this little guy is one that Mi Amor was none too pleased about. He says that back in the day they used to chase you and bite you (even though this one was all of 3 inches long and very definitely afraid of me). He's definitely much more menacing looking than the other guys... if a 3 inch lizard can be menacing.

All in all, the flora and fauna is definitely keeping me entertained.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Timing... or a lack thereof.

Just a bit over a week ago, if you were to have asked me if I'd be staying in El Salvador I wouldn't have been too sure... mostly because I didn't think I could hang. Over the past week, I've gotten into a good groove though. Mi Amor has been spending a bit more time at home (although still not much), we've had time to joke and laugh, I've taken a serious interest in our business and am helping out, and I've gotten to like the domestic tasks I've taken on throughout the day. I've been keeping myself busy with La Hija and the housework and I've grown quite content here.

Of course, in the irony of all ironies, this happens just at a point when we realize that we are really struggling financially. In the past month or so, a lot has happened with respect to our business and, although it makes enough to feed one mouth and pay the bills, it does not make enough to feed three. I have no objection to working... in fact, I want to work, but that requires relocation and relocation is just not in the cards for us right now. I have some money in savings, but that needs to go toward my bills that don't go away just because I leave the US.

So, after many long, teary and heart wrenching conversations, Mi Amor and I have made the hardest of hard decisions: La Hija and I will be temporarily returning to the US at the end of the month. We are hoping it will only have to be for a few months... just until he can get the business back on track and get things solidified again.

Thank God we have an understanding, supportive family because returning to the states is going to be much harder than it was leaving.

I have more to write, and some pictures too, but that will have to wait until I'm feeling a little less frustrated, disappointed and sad.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Poverty and work opportunities

One thing about people here that already astonishes me the fact that people are poor, sometimes unimaginably so, but so many of those same people have no desire to keep a regular job. For example, Mi Amor wanted to hire this woman to clean our house once a week and he was going to pay her more than what she was asking. In addition, we fed both her and her daughter when they were here. She had agreed to come back the next week, but just never showed.

Example #2, there have been a string of people working for our business. People will start working hard and then one day just not show up... or they'll say they're coming back and just leave (after getting paid, of course). The latest employee was a young man who La Hija just adored. He was working out well for the past week or so... and Mi Amor kind of took him under his wing, even buying him some new shoes. Today, he just didn't show up. After tracking him down by phone, he said he couldn't work anymore because his Tia didn't want him to... but he had no intention of calling to tell anyone that. Talk about burning bridges!!

Call me crazy, but I just don't understand how or why people with such economic hardship look at work so casually. The mentality seems to be I'll get enough money to get us through the next few days and then I'll worry about money again. This mentality is everywhere and I really wish I had some insight as to why it is the way it is.

Mi Amor has no answers for this one either. It angers him as much as it frustrates and mystifies me.

That is just insane to me. I just don't get it.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Reality sinks in quickly

I’d like to say that my first week and a half in El Salvador has been blissful and without stress… that a return to standardized married life has gone without a hitch… that I am comfortable and integrating seamlessly, but unfortunately that’s just not reality.

Every other time I’ve been here there has been a definite return date. I had the security of two jobs I enjoyed, a reliable car and a tiny, yet comfortable apartment. We had a routine. There was stability and familiarity and I was secure. Now I’ve quit my jobs, moved out of my apartment and have all but sold the car. I have nothing to go back to if this fails, and that terrifies me.

I had my first taste of the reality of family decision making as well. I’d bought a car and Mi Amor was financing a truck. The thought behind two vehicles, beyond giving me some much desired independence, was so I could work. Well, work has been put off for at least a few months because of some upcoming festivals, and we were met with an offer: if we gave back the new truck and sold my car at a profit, we could buy another truck (not new, but in great condition) and only owe $1000… bringing the car payments down $100/mo and owning the truck free and clear in a handful of months. Unfortunately, it made too much economic sense to keep my car, but that decision makes me feel trapped.

It’s crazy though. I mean, where would I go? In all actuality, that car would very likely be sitting there unused, but it was still some security for me.

To say I feel isolated already would be an understatement. I am trying to get going with my Spanish, but the language barrier paired with the fact that the only people I know are family members is already causing a bit of frustration. I have never felt so dependent on someone else and as much as Mi Amor loves me, he doesn’t quite get how difficult that is for me sometimes.

Then there’s the whole problem with the two of us adjusting to coupled life again… remembering to take someone else into consideration when you’re not used to having to do so can be a bit of a bugger too.

My main problem, and I’m guessing at this, is that I had this idea of what an amazing reunion we’d have, and life got in the way. I should have known it would be a struggle from the start… letting go of my life in the US was too easy. It should have been much more stressful. Evidently, the stress is just coming into play now.

On a few positive notes, the business is doing really, really well. I’m enjoying the novelty of water reservoirs, having little to no water pressure during the day, relatively chilly military-style showers and cheap cell phones. The oppressive heat and the mosquitoes, I could handle less of, but that’s another post all together.

La Hija loves having her daddy around as well, but is having some adjustment issues too. She’s over the language thing and is soaking up Spanish like a sponge. She does, however, miss her friends and family very much and asks to see them constantly.

As of right now, I’m taking it one day at a time and trying to be positive. I mean, come on. I’ve only been here for 10 days!!