{17.6.14} Día del Padre

salvadoran quesadillas

Since it was Father’s Day here today, we didn’t have school (a welcome break after just one day!). This morning, Danny (the son, not the father) and Raulito (the younger son) and I played frisbee and pelota (literally ‘ball”, but here’s it’s soccer, because why else would you be playing with a ball except in the service of the true futbol?). I brought my Whiptail disc from Wellesley, and we tossed for a while. These kids are naturals! (although maybe only because they’ve spent their entire lives playing outside and are actually quite coordinated. I think they were tickled that I kept on asking if they’d done it before. By some miracle, Raulito and I beat Danny at a pelota game, and by another I only kicked it out of the yard into the cow pasture once! 

haughty mr peacock
rich in broth, large in vegetable this soup
rich people hotel #2

After a delicious lunch of chicken soup with vegetables and tortillas and avocado, I fell asleep while watching the FIFA world cup (a much-needed siesta unfortunately interrupted by the announcers’ strident exclamations over some almost goals by Brazil and Mexico). After I woke up, we went to walk around at schmancy hotel with an enormous property housing a mini zoo, a pool, many little cabins for guests to stay at, a gym, a helipad and lots of walking paths and pastures for horses. It was an absolutely gorgeous walk with Danny (the elder) and we had some really nice conversations about his (almost) organic farm, state-run healthcare, security, Salvadoran get-up-and-go, independent women and lots more. He’s a great guy to talk to, the sky was blue, a breeze blew through the trees, the surroundings beautiful and the pace leisurely. I couldn’t have asked for a better day. After picking up Danny and Raulito from a marathon band practice (6 hours!, but they wind band competitions, so I guess it’s worth it), we’re hanging out in the house, doing our lesson plans for tomorrow and waiting to go to Pupuseria Lucy for dinner and then church afterwards since it’s a Tuesday for the Adoracion.

give yourself a couple more seconds to look at that vista again

The adoracion was, as Danny aptly described it, a lot closer to Quaker meeting for worship than the loud and music-filed services on Sundays. We rolled in 20 minutes late a causa de pupusas for dinner, and everyone was kneeling on the ground or with their foreheads on the pew in front praying to themselves. Then we were led through lots of singing in the little song book, a short bible passage, and then a time for people to come forward and share the things they were thankful for. We ended with a prayer together and then some time to greet each other and offer blessings. I was mostly struck with how relaxed and affectionate everyone was with each other. It wasn’t like some big production to go to church (like it can be in our house). People showed up, put their arms around their friends, listened minimally to the oldish guys who were sharing their alabanza and then went about their business. Kids kind of went in and out, there were some alternately crying and babbling babies. The social and the spiritual were indistinguishable in a lot of ways. 

One thing that has impressed me about all of the churches we’ve been to is how actively participatory the congregation is. Someone other than the pastor was leading the service, and three men shared some words (this is the general pattern that I’ve seen where men are the most vocal). Everyone sang and prayed together. Generations melded seamlessly, woven together by arms thrown over shoulders of mothers, friends, brothers, sons. 
some moody eucalyptus

Another thing I like is how the social fabric I see is knit around the Pupuseria and the Iglesia: food for the body, food for the soul. Everyone is just so darn comfortable with each other, obviously the result of much time spent together in very relaxed and comforting places with parents and little siblings hanging around, too. These are both whole-family affairs, and the kind of detachment of kids (especially older ones) from their parents seems fairly nonexistent. I mean, their more independent, but happy to maintain the affectionate relationship that the younger kids have with their parents and the other adults around them. This kind of casual and loving family dynamic, just like the kind of authority parents hold, is seemingly never questioned. Sure makes life easier, it seems! And for me, suddenly shoved into this place, very comfortable as there is no pressure to pick sides or pretend I don’t care during parent-kid conflict: there just really isn’t any that I’ve seen, at least nothing unreasonable. Talking with Laura, I realized that San Ignacio is really an ideal place to raise kids. Even if I might wish for a little more good ol’ Amurican drive, what people have here is much better. For what good is success if you’ve no good way to share it? 

My last thought for the night has to do with this allegedly US concept of the American Dream, the bootstrap ideology. Every Salvadoran I’ve talked to here is very proud of the enterprise of their people. Lucy, for example, after finishing high school (bachilerato here) was given two choices by her father: start a business, or keep going to school. She was about done with school, so she opened a pupuseria with no knowledge of pupusa making, just a sister who could help her out after work, a stove they had to pay for month by month and borrowed tables and chairs. Now they’ve got a pupuseria with two stories that fills right up on nights that don’t rain. Everyone wants to start a business, and everywhere you look there’s someone selling something useful, especially umbrellas. Lots of umbrellas. Of course, it helps that government regulation is pretty minimal (especially when Pupuseria Lucy started), there aren’t zoning laws (a concept we were at pains to explain to Juan Miguel the other day), and a business can be pretty small. But still. These people work hard. And make it work. Gosh, Danny started an organic farm after some Costa Ricans came a taught him how to do it a couple of years ago, and now he sells his almost pesticide-free produce in a country that, he hopes, will soon realize just how many people chemicals are killing (and will want really good organic tomatoes). For a country the US likes to think of as over populated and resource-poor, it’s got a lot going for it. A lot. I’m just now scratching the surface. 
for a manmade lake, not too bad!
at the rich people hotel,
where there’s a small pool that people
in the community can use if they pay

Sorry this is so long! There’s just so many interesting things, and I don’t want to forget them. And I hope I’ve made things here sound as interesting as they are. I keep on taking pictures and then amping up the saturation before posting them, because the things I take pictures of are so beautiful, and those pixels just don’t do them justice. 
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5 Comments Add yours

  1. Well thanks, Michael! I keep on thinking 'if only they all could be here and get the 360 degree full immersion delux version of what I'm trying to describe!' I'm sitting here at the school on Tueacher day and about 10 kids just came by to say hello and give me hugs. That's the kind of thing you just have to be there for!

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  2. Yeah, you're right, Ruby. I think it is really similar to NYM and FGC, only everyone lives so close to each other. For me in the States, spirituality isn't a habit so much as a production on Sunday mornings that spills over into the afternoon. Here, family + spirituality + shared meals (they're really inseparable) are such a habit that people don't think twice, and kids don't think to complain. I mean, I wouldn't complain either to go to a place where there's good food (like in the house sessions on Thursdays), lots of people handing out free besitos and your friends and cousins, too.

    Oh, don't worry, Ruby! We were modeling some different teaching methods for the teacher! Next week we'll work on helping them do those same things.

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  3. I LOVE reading your blog! You convey a full sense of life in E.S. as well as I can imagine anyone doing. It is a beautiful country, people, and life, as you say. And I am so envious of your experience but also grateful to be sharing it through your words and photographs. Please give my love to Danny & Lucy and their family. And thank you for telling their story so well.

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  4. Soren Hauge says:

    The whole post is saturated with close observations of open heart as well as eyes, bringing the whole pueblo to life.

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  5. Ruby says:

    Your description of life in San Ignacio reminds me of NYM Annual Session at Lions Camp, but we only get to live it for one weekend a year. It's so lovely how, when we're in community and there's enough love and attention to go around, how much less conflict there is between kids and parents. I've often thought how the nuclear family idea is so crazy flawed!
    But wait, what's this about you and Laura doing lesson plans?!! Are you lead teaching tomorrow?

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