Archive | October, 2011

Otra Vez.

30 Oct

 Listening To: Nothing, because I have no speakers with this computer.

So, if you haven´t been informed, my computer is dead. I will now allow you to take the time to imagine what you would do if your laptop died while you were in another country where you only kind of speak the language and have no family where you would be staying for 55 more days.


Now that you have had time to reflect and imagine my anguish, I will use this time to apologize for my lack of blogitude for the last pretty much forever, and also that I will now be abandoning my chronology of El Salvador (which is very sad, as I never had a chance to comment on my absolute favorite part of the trip, a three day stay in Nueva Esperanza, a community and agricultural co-operative with some of the greatest people I have ever met…and when I say this is my favorite part of the trip, you should know that I also never blogged about the days we spent in our own personal hotel on the Pacific Ocean, complete with multiple pools, a restaurant with gourmet food all to ourselves, access to the Ocean, beautiful weather, and more hammocks than I have ever seen in my life…so Nueva Esperanza was pretty life changing).

But at this point El Salvador seems like ages ago, and so much has happened since that I haven’t written about, that I am starting to just feel guilty about everything for those of you who are actually interested in reading my blog – sorry, Auntie Debbie! So I am going to attempt to mention some things that have happened more recently.

For one thing…I went to a Justin Bieber concert in Mexico City. There are a billion and more things I could write about it, but here are some of the things that I think are the most important:

  1. Apparently Justin Bieber´s favorite color is purple, which probably seems insignificant but none of the Beliebers think so, as all of them wore purple (and by “wore purple”, I don’t mean that they put on a piece of purple clothing…I mean that they wore every purple thing that they own…it was hideous).
  2. Justin Bieber is a really, really good dancer, and  I could actually see him because,
  3. I was in one of the first rows of my section (general admission, standing section), so I could see really well, and I also was able to move up every time,
  4. Girls fainted. And yes, there were girls fainting. And not because of dehydration or overheating – it was actually pretty cold and we all appreciated the fact that it was basically impossible to move because there were so many people, it meant that we were able to keep a little bit warmer. The girls that fainted were purely unable to handle the presence of the Biebs.
  5. Listening to Mexican tweens sing along to Justin Bieber is really quite adorable. Also they did not pronounce his name at all the way his mother intended it. It is more along the lines of Juice-teen Bee-bear, and there were times we would hear Whose-teen Bee-Bear…those tricky silent “J´s”
  6. Speaking of this, most of the people at the concert (and I mean people, not girls, because there were LOTS of men at this concert…lots) didn’t understand anything that Justin said because obviously he spoke in English. This made me quite the novelty because it was clear that I understood what he was saying, and that I was also able to translate his statements into Spanish…every time it was between songs and the Biebs talked, I was in high demand.
  7. I would never, ever, EVER suggest going to a concert in Mexico City…unless, I guess, you are seeing someone insignificant or unexciting. Why, you ask? Well, let me begin by saying that the van that was waiting to take us home from the concert was parked 10 minutes from the venue. What an easy walk! Wrong. It took over an hour and a half to get from the concert to the van. And along the way, we had to climb through holes in fences and under barbed wire in order to escape. “Escape”, by the way, is not an exaggeration – there were times when I wasn’t intending to walk or move in any way, but the mob of people was moving in a manner that meant that I moved with it. Other times I couldn´t breathe, and there were multiple times that I was terrified that I was unknowingly stepping on someone who might have been pushed down by the mob. At one point Mari and I were trying to go against the flow of people, but instead just managed on being pushed further in the opposite direction – all of this, because of Justin Bieber.
  8. In the end, was it worth it? Of course it was. Remember how people saw Madonna or Michael Jackson a long time ago and now it is a really huge deal? That is going to be me in 30 years. Hate him or love him, the Biebs is an icon, and it will be important that I saw him in concert (IN MEXICO) for a long, long time.

I also already had my fall break. Since most of us don’t have the money to do anything really awesome, we just planned different activities for various days of the break. One of the things I planned on my own, though, was a homestay in Amatlan, the indigenous community nearby to Cuernavaca that I mentioned in an earlier blog. I stayed with a 75 year old woman called Doña Irene for 3 days, and during that time I attended two rosary ceremonies (for the same person, at least I think…), ate awesome food, made my own tortillas from handpicked kernels of corn, weeded a cornfield and picked cactus, and climbed a mountain with the man who was renting out the extra space in Doña Irene´s house who not only speaks four languages but also is able to climb up and down a mountain while holding two water bottles in one hand, and my hand in the other (other girls in my group had climbed the mountain a couple of days before, and they had used ropes…all I had was this language prodigy to ensure that I didn´t die, but after the number of times he saved my life, I would probably choose him over ropes if I had to do it again…). I returned to Cuernavaca on Wednesday of our break without showers or makeup, wearing the same outfit I had on when I left, and dirt basically everywhere you can imagine. It was a very satisfying, and not incredibly hygienic, trip. We recently returned to Amatlan to take part in various indigenous traditions, and we had the pleasure of eating lunch with Doña Irene, who gleefully informed me that she had already eaten five of the saltwater taffies that I had given her in thanks for letting me stay in her home (which was actually shocking, because I don´t even really like saltwater taffy but I definitely would have eaten the whole bag in the week between when I left Amatlan and returned…)

Of course I have done a lot of other things, and I am still not caught up on my life, but I feel like this blog is getting to be too long and even my own parents won´t want to continue reading it, so I will have to pause until next time. I will do my best to write another one in the near future, but no promises as I have limited access to computers or internet, and blogs are usually placed further down on my list of priorities than writing papers and making sure my Gettysburg inbox doesn’t fill and I can´t receive emails (no matter what I do, it always seems dangerously close to full).

One last thing, though: this upcoming week is El Dia de Los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, here in Mexico. Halloween, of course, is this Monday, and the Day of the Dead is celebrated on the first and second of November. I will be traveling with my host family to a nearishby town to visit with family and celebrate the holiday Mexico-style, so I will be gone from Sunday until Thursday with even less internet access than usual. But assuming something interesting happens, I will make sure to blog about it sometime after I get back!



Mas y Mas y Mas.

15 Oct

Listening To: “You’re Going Back” – The Tallest Man on Earth, The Wild Hunt

So I know it has been forever since I posted a blog…I have a billion excuses but I won’t waste time with them. And on that note, more El Salvador…

Tuesday we took a boat trip to Copapayo Viejo, the site of a massacre during the war during which 160 people died. We sat where a house used to be and heard the story from the only survivor. The story involved torture, dehydration, lack of food for days, being cramped in one house with nowhere to use the bathroom, babies smothered to death so that they didn’t make noise, and the murder of the people of the community just because it was assumed that they were sympathetic to the cause of the guerillas – without proof that they were guerillas at all (again, using the counterinsurgency policy that the United States was using to train the Salvadoran government – kill any sympathizers so that the base on which the guerillas stand is removed).

Wednesday we woke up early to go to the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador. This was probably one of the worst meetings we had the entire week. There were three people who met with us – one who was part of the economic sector, one who worked with USAID, and one who was part of Public Relations. They spent most of the time going through a powerpoint that gave a very vague overview of the various sections of the U.S. Embassy and the programs that they have in place in El Salvador. Afterwards, when we were able to ask questions, it was clear that they didn’t have the answers. When asked how they were trained in knowing the history of El Salvador, they responded by saying that they “had some time off” before moving to El Salvador, during which they could learn Spanish. But they did not seem to have anything more than surface knowledge about the conflict that occurred in the country in which they were working. When asked about the relationship between the FMLN and the US, they mentioned that there are some people in the Salvadoran government with whom the US government will not work. Later, Cesar informed us that this is because some of the officials in the FMLN were formerly generals in the guerilla army, and because of this the United States government will not interact with these individuals (which seems very mature, good call US government). They continued to tell us about how every person in El Salvador has a positive image of the United States, which has been clearly refuted by almost every single one of our meetings over the week, many people indicating either that there is an extreme dislike for the United States as a whole, or most differentiating between the United States people and the government, stating the atrocities of the United States government and the continued mistreatment of Salvadoran people by this government.

Afterwards we went to meet with a representative from the Association for National Enterprise, a meeting set up for the business students in our program. The only thing that I really took with me from this meeting (most of it was over my head…I so do not understand business jargon) was that ANEP defends free trade (how surprising!), but that they are not in favor of CAFTA because it places restrictments on a true “free” trade system, because the agreements put regulations that mean the trade isn’t really free. Take that as you will.

After the meeting with ANEP we met with a woman from Melida Ayaya Montes, a feminist group I n El Salvador (NOW we were doing something I could understand). And the talk was fabulous. The four of us who attended the lecture were able to ask our own questions and she addressed them specifically, after giving a rundown on the work of the organization and her own views of feminism. She touched on the subject of sexual/reproductive rights, HIV/AIDS, migration, business/labor, domestic work, and the environment.

That night we had a PRIVATE CONCERT from the writer of the Salvadoran popular mass music. He was asked personally by Archbishop Romero to rewrite the songs of mass so that they would speak more to the theme of Liberation and the revolution of the country, and his songs are still used (and also used in Mexican Catholic mass, as we knew some of the songs from our own church here in Cuernavaca). The concert was absolutely incredible – he had great stories about the relationship he had with Archbishop Romero, the songs were fantastic, and he was unbelievably talented, both as a singer and as a guitarist.

I still have so much more to say about El Salvador, which happened so long ago…maybe sometime I will finish it up and get to comment on other important things (like, for example, seeing a Justin Bieber concert in Mexico City…)