Saturday, October 9, 2010

Street Horses

Buenos Dias, Amigos y Amigas.

I haven't written an update in quite a while because I've been fairly busy and having lots of fun.  Since my last update, I've worked on the caseta quite a bit, swapped housemates, explored the region a little, and was graced with a visit from Elizabeth.  Here is a link to my El Salvador Photo Collection.  Photos from this post are in the 3rd album.

big bug
Big Grasshopper
A few weeks ago, I was walking to Laguna Verde with Lindsay, the peace corps volunteer in San Juan de Dios, and she mentioned that her leg was kind of sore from falling out of an orange tree earlier that day.  We didn't think much of it, but she got an X-ray the following day revealing that it was broken.  I decided that I won't complain about the hike to work until I do it with a broken leg.  On the way there, we met a man with a bunch of Cypress tree seeds, and struck up a conversation.  He's in charge of reforesting the mountain.  He also has 12 children.  I noticed some legs in his bag, and he was surprised to find the biggest grasshopper I've ever seen.

building the new walls
Getting started on the walls
Afterwards, we went up to the site of the caseta at the laguna, where the boys were laying the first row of blocks for the walls.  The plan was to build the new house over the old one so the pump wouldn't be exposed to all the rain we've been having.  They thought that our arrival was a good time to "cook" lunch.  ie, take out what the female figure in their life made for them while stabbing tortillas with sticks and roasting them over a trash fire littered with a few sticks, ignited by diesel.  Que rico!
The next day I tried to go back up to lay some block, the the gods of rain denied my passage.  Halfway up, I took refuge in a friend's house, waiting hours for the downpour to stop.  It was too late once it did, but I was happy because it meant I could go home and get ready to leave for Guatemala the following morning.

cathedral in the water
La Catedral in Antigua, Guatemala

el arco de antigua
El Arco de Antigua
I found myself in Antigua 9 hours and 4 chicken buses later.  I hadn't really been on any of the "gringo trail" sites since my trip two years ago in South America.  I found it difficult to adjust.  I didn't wanna eat anywhere cause they were all expensive tourist traps.  Thai, mexican, irish, american, italian, mediterranean, chinese, and fusion restaurants were at my fingertips, but i just wanted some dirty old local food.  My stomach is used to that now.  I settled for the next closest thing, Guatemala's only Irish pub.  Paying six times what i should have, I kind of hated it, but the food wasn't bad.  The American next to me struck up conversation with me.  He was a surfer brah from the midwest.  That was my cue to go to sleep and let the next day arrive a little quicker.

antigua streetcorner
Wandering around Antigua

lava and raindrops
Magma flow in the rain

In the morning I headed to Guatemala City to pick up Elizabeth from the airport.  Smooth as a baby's bottom.  The pickup and return, that is.  We wandered around Antigua for a few days, surrendering to Central America's Downtown Disney as we called it.  Don't get me wrong, it's a beautiful city with lots to do, just a bit too much for me at that time.  That didn't stop us from eating some great meals and taking advantage of some nightlife finally.  We also took a rainy trip up to Volcan Pacaya, Central America's most active volcano.  There was lava!  I had gone up the volcano in 2006 with Pete aka Nacho and CJ, but this time was completely different.  It had erupted in May this year, showering one full meter of new volcanic rock onto the landscape.  The once densely forested area now only presented a few remaining trees, all of which were shaved bare by the rocky rain.  Mmmm, that reminds me of rocky road ice cream.  So, it was absolutely nothing like my first trip up there even though it was only four years later.

volcan pacaya
Volcan Pacaya

Back in Juayua, we were welcomed with tummy aches and rain.  Lots of both.  While my stomach of steel was fine, but Elizabeth insisted on eating some raw lettuce mix on top of her pupusas (cause its really good) and got the ol' Revancha de los Almohades, as Chris coined so poetically years ago.  It also rained like crazy for four days straight.  We weren't really able to do anything around Juayua because of it.  One day, I couldn't even walk the 2 blocks to the supermarket due to the class V rapids flowing down my street!  I twice attempted to go to the laguna to see the progress made during my time off.  I made it once, taking a few pictures, but it had been going slow due to the rain.  Jikke and I each fell on our asses scrambling down the volcano to learn that we just missed the bus on the way home.  I think she was annoyed with me a little for this wet adventure, so I yelled and ran after a truck heading downhill.  We saved ourselves from 7 rainy kilometers on foot with a cramped ride in the back of a toyota. The other passengers were a soccer team doing some altitude practice, and their main concern was Jikke's marital status.

elizabeth and i
Elizabeth and I in the rain
We got cabin fever and visited Ataco in the rain.  The next day, the weather cleared up so we went to some beautiful thermal baths nearby.  It was relaxing to the max.  They were situated in a coffee plantation, and everything was meticulously cared for.  Some rich guy who was into fair and clean coffee trade owned the place, and it was really nice.  I hope to go back.  We spent a day in Santa Ana, supposedly El Salvador's culture-y city but I was happy to leave for Lake Coatepeque.  It was beautiful, just check out the pictures of all this stuff.

lago coatepeque panoramic
Lago Coatepeque

Since Elizabeth left, it has not rained a drop.  I bet the guy who owns the town dryer is bummed about all this sun we've been having.  I, however, am not.  I like the sun.  I also like going swimming.  I also like it when my clothes dry.  Since there are no more clouds, I see multiple volcanoes every day.  I also witnessed a man wearing a backpack containing a live and curious rooster walk past a wheelbarrow full of eggs for sale.  Not something I've ever seen before.  If only the bus wasn't driving 100 mph, I would have taken a photo.

big cockroach
Cockroach found in my boot
the team of OG's:  joalmo(?), chema, oscar, and ?
Working on the form for the roof
At this point, we've finished construction of the new caseta.  On my last day of construction, I met with the pump engineer to drive up to the lake together.  He needed to take some measurements.  When he arrived, I put my boots on in the foyer.  I felt a little lump in my boot, so reached up to pull it out.  Nothing was there.  Wtf?  I put the boot back on, and *crunch* went something.   Hmmm.  I shook the contents of the boot into my other hand, and learned a valuable lesson.  Don't shake out what you don't know into your own hands.  It was a huge cockroach.  I screamed and flung it into a nearby garbage can.  The engineer thought i was a wuss, and rightly so.  The bug was alive in the trash when i got home that afternoon, so I took a picture.  I can still feel the crunch under my toes.  Gross.  Up at the lake that day, the engineer took his measurements and the cement was poured onto the roof!  It will be dry in a couple of days, and then we just have to take out the forms and clean up the old materials leftover.  The floor is already done, so all that's left is the pump installations and perhaps some decorations.  I'm thinking some sort of floral wallpaper.

Pouring the roof on the new caseta

Once ready, we'll put the old diesel motor and pump back in as a backup.  The new pump will be installed in about a week and a half.  By that time, the power should be on as well, and our project should be complete in about 2 weeks.  One of my remaining tasks is to write up an operations manual for the community, in case someone new comes to work on the pumps, they'll have proper documentation.

laguna azulado
Beautiful day at Laguna Verde

During this week off, I've been visiting the nearby waterfall a lot, its been really refreshing with the heat and sun.  I sunburned myself yesterday, so I'm taking an "inside day" to write this and load pictures.  Jikke and I have been cooking a lot, too.  We made mediocre mushroom sauce.  My typical breakfasts are a smoothie consisting of three oranges, three bananas, half of a papaya, and honey.  I usually eat one coconut per day.  Its a fruit-filled life here.  At least in the morning.  Afternoon and evening is more of a starchy life.

Loose horses at the supermarket?  Last night, as we were walking to the store, and I thought I heard one of the town drunks rustling in the darkness under a tree.  I was surprised to find a huge horse instead.  Then another across the street!  I was surrounded!  They were still there, half a block from the supermarket at 8pm, completely unattended.  Jikke and I considered borrowing them.  In the end, I declined because El Salvadoran jail sounds bad, and my last bareback horse experience left me with a bloody head.

Today is Saturday, meaning local food fair here in Juayua.  It happens every weekend here.  There is bad marching band music in the distance.  I think today is some special day, supposedly there will be a dance this afternoon.  So excited!  I shall go seek out said dance and cooked rabbits.

vista on the way to work
View on my way to work

1 comment:

  1. Hi Cody, Jerry here...I hope you enjoyed the rabbit... Great to be able to read about what you're up to. It all sounds very hard and tiring but I guess it's also a really good experience for you and the pictures of some of the landscapes are beautiful. Over here in Bordeaux all is well with everyone, and not a coakroach in sight, though we could do with some of that rain...