BREAKING: I finally got my Chilean Student Visa today!!!!!… I was about to start my third trimester of visa acquisition headaches, and they still made me wait for an hour and a quarter in the embassy for the certificate. Luis Roberto (the school’s pastor) and I went out for horchata after, though, so all was well.
Ok…. here’s some actual information. That was just too exciting to miss.
Soyapango is a very well-run, well-organized place. For good reason, too. Leslie sent us schedules and itineraries up the wazoo before our arrival, and there’s a veritable army looking out for us. Luis Roberto took me to the embassy today. Velinda and Doris took us to a lake today. Maudiel (the general pastor) would have brought us to Santiago de Maria, another church a ways away, had he not been sick. Velinda and the women who work in the little snack shop / canteen at the school bring us hot lunch and breakfast and snack every day. Our hostess, Claudia, is in charge of our transport and meals. Miss Zulma, a super high-energy and chatty english teacher, is in charge of making sure we go to the right classes.
|Precious after school homework
help kid napping
It definitely helps that they’ve got a lot more resources than San Ignacio. There are twice as many students, and they can charge more because, I think, the school’s reputation is pretty good and public schools are much more dangerous here than in San Ignacio. Danny in San Ignacio also thinks that people here value education more, which I can believe, and so are willing to pay for it.
I have also been really impressed by the main English teacher I’ve been in contact with, and the whole staff seems fairly dynamic and pretty comfortable with each other. Of course, it helps that a while ago they got rid of all the teachers who were coming in late and being a bit delinquent. It also helps that they can pay their teachers on time to keep turnover down and probably have a bigger recruiting pool. The atmosphere in the staff room where we gather every morning for a couple of minutes of prayer is very convivial with affectionate smiles and ‘buenas mañana’s. Miss Evelyn, the English teacher, seems to spend a fair amount of time in class prep and tries to mix up activities and keep kids engaged. She also has an impressive amount of language acquisition under her belt, with 5 years of Japanese on top of her English learning, and speaks English very well.
The kids here are also a lot more sophisticated. They seem a lot less startled by Laura and my presence, and are bold about walking up (albeit in large groups) to say hello in English, quickly to revert to Spanish for the FAQ-like convos I’ve had with them. Where are you from? What is your name? Have you ridden in an airplane? What’s you’re name again? You’re really tall!
Once I actually have a normal day here, I’ll try and give you a taste of our lives in Soyapango and Santa Lucía. For now, all I’ve got is crazy quilt, much of it gathered during our trip to a lake and cutesy little town this afternoon with Doris and Velinda.
~~~ Crazy Quilt ~~~
As long as I’m here, I won’t need a boyfriend. The kids give me hugs willy nilly, the teenagers call me pretty, adults think I’m young (I’ve been pegged at 14 years old) so it’s not like I’m going to turn into an old maid anytime soon, Laura pats my head and brings me medicine when I’m sick and my parents still send love through email. What other needs could I possibly have?
Today I was wandering about aimlessly looking for Laura when a kid stopped me and said, “Are you looking for your mom? She’s over there.” We don’t even look alike! We’re just both white!
Here, I have regressed to babyhood. My food is brought to me (and lately much of it soft and pureed for the ol’ stomach), I’m not allowed out without a chaperone, I ate jello today, I get cranky if I don’t get my afternoon nap, I start rubbing my eyes at 8pm and have woken up without an alarm before 6 (gasp!) and people never really tell me what the plan is, I just hop in the car and off we go.
Rules for the Well-Raised Bus Riders Courtesy of Doris:
- don’t throw garbage through the window
- don’t step on the feet of fellow passengers
- give your seat to pregnant women and old people
- drivers, don’t smoke
- don’t talk loudly while you chat
- for goodness gracious, don’t talk about things that make the other passengers feel uncomfortable
- don’t put on strident music (above all, regatón)
She said she’d have to ride the bus again to refresh her memory on other misdemeanors. I eagerly await this event.
Quick-‘n-Dirty Salvadoran Vernacular Lesson:
chivo — cool
chevere — cool/sweet/rad
chivisimo — super chivo
atol de pinuela — sweet fruity blended warm drink soup stuff
atol chuco / semilla de morro — salty version of the above with beans and hot sauce
chucho — street dog / dog for village people
pasteles de verduras — like mini empanadas with vegetables inside
champas — little non-brick patched-together houses made of plastic, corrugated zinc, whatever
‘como no’ — ‘actually yes’
que barbaridad! — how awful! what a scene! what monkeys, these kids!
“Soyapango is the best school for patience in El Salvador.”
— Doris, the third time we nosed out into traffic exiting the Soyapango school, only to retreat as bus after motorcycle after truck swerved by
~~~ Bonus photos from today! ~~~
|Doris eyeing Laura’s pastel de verduras|
|happy snacky timey|
|Doris, so thrilled for her atol de chuco|
|in the park facing an enormous and gorgeous catholic church|
|Laura is game for anything…
including salty bean mush stuff that Doris
was gushing over
|Velinda so cute!|
|Overlooking the enormous lake|
|Who needs fireworks with this?|