Humans of San Ignacio

I wanted you all to meet the people who will eventually propel me back to El Salvador with their loving, learning, teasing, teaching, soccer-playing, singing selves. 

Name: Lucy 
Occupation: Presiding with a benevolent smile over Lucy’s Pupuseria. Maker of wonderful beans with garlic. Mother of Raulito and Danny (the Jr.). Wife of Hermano Danny. 
Why I love her: Like Miss Claudia, she effortlessly teases, mothers and loves everyone around her in exactly the proportions they need. She is like the angel of the pupuseria who sees all from her post at the plancha, dishing out love in palm-sized packages of queso, frijoles, chicharron and maiz and full-body sized packages in the form of hugs. She’s got a great laugh, to boot. Sneezes in sevens (7!). 
The ever adventuresom Danny happy babying it up
The picture HE wanted for his bio
(Real Madrid, anyone?)
Name: Hermano Danny
Occupation: mostly-organic farmer of repollo, tomatoes and avocados. Owner of a bus. President of the executive committee for the San Ignacio colegio. Husband of Lucy. Father of Raulito and Danny (the Jr.). 
What I love about him: A bit mischievous and a fan of street ball on Sunday nights with his sons, he’s also very hardworking and thoughtful. He seems to always be ready for a new adventure, whether that’s an organic farm or yoga to mediate the effects of farming on his back. That and his million dollar smile I think are what have made him so successful as an entrepreneur. The guy literally knows everyone around, and they all love him. He told us about living in Las Pilas where his farm is now (10 km of steep mountain ascent from San Ignacio) when he was younger, before there were buses and everyone had cars. He’d walk down in the morning, play soccer all day, then walk back up in the evening. That’s a half marathon just to go there and back! He’s also the only non-high-volume sneezer in the family. 

Name: Danny (the Jr.)
Occupation: 2nd year bachillerato student, guitarist in the church band (when he remembers to wear his nice pants), brother to Raulito, son to Danny and Lucy. 
What I love about him: He might seem like your typical teenager, chatting with girls on Facebook, fighting with his brother over computer and internet privileges, disappearing for hours to play guitar with friends, he’s also got a soft side. He’s a great hugger (I sort of extorted him to hug me by making that the price of a friendship bracelet, and I got my money’s worth… also, he hugged me so hard saying goodbye that he cracked my neck!), likes to make friendship bracelets himself and can play some gosh darned soulful things on the guitar. Sneezes in twelves (12!). 

the one on the left, with the playground buds
Name: Rualito (son of Hermano Danny)
Occupation: Grade school, backyard pelota, reliving backyard pelota
What I love about him: The kid’s got a lot of gusto in living. He’s constantly trying to get people to play pelota with him, and then after they do, he’ll spend the next hour replaying any and every incident of it, especially the parts where anyone got even close to falling down. He’s a super enthusiastic about learning english… the kind of kid who raises his hand, bounces up and down in his seat and shouts ‘me me me!’, unable to contain the excitement of a correct answer to the teacher’s question. He also is a great hugger, although more about volume than strength (I guess size isn’t to his advantage here). I could count on at least three hugs every morning at school in San Ignacio with an adorable and plaintive “Savannah!” attached. Sneezes in large and irregular numbers (!). 

look who I found on my webcam photo roll!
Name: Criz Rodriguez
Occupation: teacher in the San Ignacio school, sister to Juan Miguel and Roman (and other siblings I never met), queen of the hair straightener
What I love about her: She’s lots of fun and gives the kind of hug where the seratonin just leaps out of the starting gate and you get so happy. To some, she might come of as your typical 20-something. She is a big fan of her high heals, makeup, hair straightener, soap operas (actually, Korean dramas) and anything pink. There’s so much more, though. Despite a rough childhood with parents either deceased or neglectful, she’s really solid, really down-to-earth and has a really strong faith. She’s one of the leaders of the youth group in the San Ignacio Friends church, which is a significant time commitment. She’s the kind of person who will make a great mother, and I mean that as the highest compliment. She’s got it all: effortlessly loving, a good sense of humor, a strong sense of who she is and what is right.

Epic in the morning with coffee
Teacher’s Day bible passage
Name: Juan Miguel Rodriguez
Occupation: Director, pastor and teacher of the San Ignacio Friends School, brother to Criztel (really father of the family, in many ways), singer in the church, generally just the guy to know
What I love about him: He’s a jump-right-in sort of person. In church, he closes his eyes, raises his palms into the air and belts out song after song. He’s a dreamer, with endless ideas about future directions for the school. He’s wise. Having to parent his younger siblings, while a really hard way to grow up, taught him how to give really good life advice. He has learned that instead of dictating the best course of action to his sister when she comes to him, his role is to help her find where her own heart leads her. 

Esau painted the blue man for the family weekend poster
When we switched roles
(me to biker, him to friendship bracelet maker)
Name: Esau Posada
Occupation: english teacher (below grade 6 because he doesn’t have a teaching license), minister and youth leader in the church, son of a coffee farmers and a social studies teacher, coach of the San Ignacio soccer team
What I love about him: Esau might seem like a typical young guy anywhere. With his financial independence he’s moved away from home, bought a motorcycle and a TV and plays soccer with his buds whenever he gets the chance. He’s fairly addicted to Candy Crush Saga on his schmancy smartphone. However, like Criz, his faith in God and his community has kept him in the faraway farmlands of San Ignacio instead of in the US or gangs or God knows where else. He is the only Salvadoran I’ve met who went to the US for anything more than a visit and returned. We were surprised to learn that he’d only been teaching for a week before our arrival at the school, because he managed his classes of squirrely 1st graders fairly effortlessly. He’s a delightfully humble and all-around nice guy, though, citing youth work with the church for his ability to work a crowd, letting babies fall asleep on his shoulder at evening prayer meetings, helping out with ministry when the regular pastor isn’t around. While it’s not usually their fault, young men in El Salvador are too often in gangs or unemployed and driftless, too often the enemies of peaceful and God-fearing society. In some ways, I guess, it is noteworthy how noteworthy I find Esau, fairly normal and solidly nice that he is. And despite how truly incredible he is, he doesn’t seem to need anyone to tell him so.
da kool kids
Name: Jasson
Occupation: Student, schoolyard pelota aficionado, drummer and tech guy for the San Ignacio church, lover of God, English and astronomy, a Pretty Cool Kid

What I love about him: He’s almost impossibly skinny, with big ears that stick out expectantly, a slouch to match his gangly height, open eyes and an impish grin. He is one of the bright lights of San Ignacio, and not just because he’s taken an independent liking to astronomy, the kind of person that shines with a vivid palette in my mind. In English class, he was always the most willing to stick his tongue out for the “th” sound in the tongue twisters, willing to make a little bit of a fool of himself. Quick to learn new things, and delighted upon deciphering my charades of concepts like ‘through’ and ‘fleas’. We had a whole rousing conversation about slang words in Salvadoran Spanish at 12am while sitting not 10 feet from the casket at a wake. He was the reason I looked forward to afternoon tutoring sessions, and I could always count on a smile during recess as long as he wasn’t engrossed in his soccer match. I made him a friendship bracelet on the last day because I wanted him to remember me just like I will never forget him. 

That’s it, folks! Stay tuned for Humans of San Salvador Metrapolitan Area

for future reference, this is what happens if you give me a cow


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Wonderful! Thank you again for your service in El Salvador and for your delightfully descriptive telling of the story. I look forward to hearing more about Soyapango and, later, Chile.


  2. Soren Hauge says:

    I can almost taste the pupusas, hear the hymns, and feel the hugs and the sweat from playing pelota.


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