Monday, July 30, 2007

Burned, but Blessed

A San Miguel, yo le canto la cumbia / A Santa Ana le canto la cumbia
A La Unión yo le canto la cumbia / pa' que vengan a bailar
A Sonsonate, le canto la cumbia / A Morazán, yo le canto la cumbia
A San Vicente, le canto la cumbia / San Salvador, yo te canto esta cumbia

Y decirles, bailen la cumbia, báilenla ya (2x)

Ahuachapán, yo le canto la cumbia/ A Cuscatlán yo le canto la cumbia
La Libertad, yo te canto esta cumbia / pa' que vengan a bailar
A mi Cabañas le canto la cumbia / A mi La Paz yo le canto la cumbia
Chalatenango te canto esta cumbia/ Usulután, yo te canto esta cumbia
Esta cumbia popular ...

-- Cumbia Popular, by Los Indígenas (song to El Salvador's 14 departments, on Descarga No. 6)

Nursing a baaaad sunburn from our most recent jaunt to rural El Salvador ... we went to Playa El Espino as part of our first attempts to do any "touristic" stuff on our visits, and I forgot not only my sunscreen, but also that I had just finished a course of Cipro, which increases sensitivity to light. Yikes! The good news is that I don't report back to teach until next month, so I can sit around the house and whimper. (And blog.)

Once again we managed to see all the nieces and nephews, which is always a treat; three new ones since our last visit 30 months ago, and two more on the way -- one here in the US and the other in El Salvador. One of the youngest, Mayra, age 4, came up to me and said shyly, but formally: "I'm glad that you [Ud.] came, because it's been so long since I last saw you that I wasn't sure I remembered what you look like." This from a little darling who was scarcely two the last time!

Let's see, what all did we do? Arrived 17 July on TACA, which was far less hassle than the last time we went -- a disaster in which they refused to return our trunk to us for over a week, made us drive back across the country to get it after promising repeatedly it would be delivered, insulted me for having "married the guerrilla" merely because my husband's family lives in the northeast, and refused to reimburse us our costs in any form except for a voucher to fly with a company that at that time I never intended to use again. Only because they're so much cheaper than my preferred airlines did they get us back this time around; the flight attendants are wonderful, but ground-level staff are rude and arrogant, and for whatever reason, the flights themselves had more and worse turbulence than any other jet flights I've ever made. Maybe that last part's coincidence, but it's not something I'm looking to repeat.

We went to find our Club Rent-A-Car guy, who took us to the off-site location where they now keep the vehicles. As an aside, let me highly recommend this domestic company; we found them on our 2004 trip after Avis left us high and dry, saying they didn't have the vehicle we'd reserved but could provide something else for even more money than the absurdly high rates all the companies have to charge in El Salvador (a factor of the higher risk of theft or accident). This time around Club's offer even included use of a cellphone at no extra cost, though it runs on the usual prepaid Tigo cards most phones there use, which you have to buy for yourself. Even with having to buy the cards before you can use the phone, it's still a perk US companies never have offered me, and handy if you don't want international roaming charges on your own phone.

Four hours or so were spent driving east, first on the CA-2/CA-7 highways that are in pretty decent shape, and then later on the curving mountain roads that are narrower but still paved, and finally on the off-road type terrain that was the reason we'd rented a 4x4. Around San Miguel, it started to rain -- no surprise in rainy season ("invierno") but most frustrating, as my husband had decided at the last minute that he couldn't bother going to the store for a tarp to cover the suitcases and THEREFORE it simply wasn't going to rain. Despite being rainy season. Because the world and its conditions always bow to his convenience. (Remember that I love him dearly and think he's one of the finest men on the face of the earth; it's just this really is his assumption when he wants something to be a certain way.)

At 11:30 Tuesday night, we arrived at my in-laws' house, where we were welcomed to the recently improved extra room, which now not only had finished walls to cover the adobe that was still being scraped at the last time, but even a door and window coverings that shut; even the main house still has simple openings for windows. The bedroom has further added a loveseat and dresser. They've put in a propane-fueled gas stove since we were there, though the firewood hearth is still in use, as is the outhouse, the stone outdoor sink with fish to eat the mosquitoes, and the cement shower stall behind the house, for which I need to remember to bring a new shower curtain next time. Marco settled into the newest hammock, as they now have a luxurious three stretching across the living room. This room, for no apparent reason also now sports a traditional sofa, covered in plastic to keep off the dust and presumably also the depredations of the diaperless grandchildren, four cats, three dogs, and the various remaining members of a 22-member flock of hens, roosters, and baby chicks. No ducks or pigeons roaming the house this time, and no pig in the yard this time either, though while we were there, my sister-in-law bought two goats that were temporarily lodged on the front patio just under our window, and pulling out of the front yard now involves navigating around a cow and her calf.

Now we'll lie down to rest in the large bed with its fresh linens, turning off the still solar-powered (hurrah!) overhead light, to wake up tomorrow and take you to see all the sweethearts up the hill at the school.

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