The Astounding Travel Adventures of a Miraculous Fellow


Scorpions are NOT cool.
June 12, 2008, 7:58 pm
Filed under: The Salvador

5/2/2005

 

I am still in El Salvador; still alive and kicking.  Alas, the main thing I kick is scorpions; but that’s because they like to crawl up the walls and attempt to kill me to death.  But I get the jump on them and give them a taste of their own medicine – the medicine of death!  

 

I moved from the community where I was initially living, Ciudad Romero, to a tiny one called Salinas del Potrero which, I believe, in my still-developing Spanish, roughly translates to  “Steal everything from the Gringo, then feed him to the crocodiles.” Actually, nothing like that has happened, and the locals are super cool. They still stare at me whenever I walk by, but I utilize my magnificent Spanish and say something stunning like “Hola” or possibly (if I have my Spanish/English dictionary handy) “Buenos…umm…d…d….d…ah here it is…días!  Buenos días, yes!”

 

The first place I stayed in Salinas was with Luis, one of the agricultural technicians who works here.  His house is an old church, but I think the reason it’s an old church is that only the Devil himself would enjoy residing there now. There are no lights, there is a latrine out back, but I have to leap over a barbed wire fence, then past 4000 squawking ducks to get there.   Once I’ve finally reached the latrine and climbed the broken stairs, sitting down becomes a questionable feat, because there are about ten four-inch long spiders in the toilet, just waiting to eat my ass (literally speaking).  After this ordeal to simply use the bathroom, I decided the next time it would just be easier to soil myself. 

 

Back inside the house, things get worse.  The bed seems like it was used to rest the cows back in medieval times, but now its mine and mine alone.  This actually doesn’t bother me that much – what does bother me is that the scorpions start creeping around at night, so I just lay awake and cry and cry and cry.  I guess it’s not that bad, because the crocodiles haven’t moved into the outdoor shower yet, but once word travels of me being at this place, I’m sure they’ll be lurking around waiting to pounce on a healthy snack of gringo a la mode.

 

Luckily Luis is really cool.  He speaks very limited English and loves to try to tell me jokes in Spanish.  This doesn’t work.  So he tries to translate them to English – this works even worse.  Generally I chuckle at the jokes and try to change the subject, but he has a nasty habit of making me retranslate them back to him in Spanish.  After fumbling around with the translation of a joke I really didn’t understand, I generally end this rambling retranslation by saying “Good night sweet prince” and delivering a well-placed karate kick.

After a week with Luis, I moved in with a local family.  They are very nice – Concha is the grandmother, Evaristo is the grandfather, and at my latest count, they have 475 children.  They may have had one more when I wasn’t looking.  Their daughter emigrated to the US and left her children with them, so not all 475 are their children.  So the family breakdown is as follows: Fernando is 12 years old, and is the son of Concha and Evaristo.  Frankie is 8 and is the grandchild of Concha and Evaristo, and the nephew of Fernando.  Esmeralda is 6, has Down’s syndrome, is Frankie’s aunt, and Fernando’s little sister.  Kevin is a complete lunatic, is 4 years old, and is Esmeralda and Fernando’s nephew.  Jefferson is 2, has never worn pants in his life, and is the final grandchild/nephew in the family.  So if that’s not confusing, I don’t know what is.  I have a room in the little house next door, but I share it with Frankie and Fernando. Yep, just me and my two little buddies.  But, I know what you sick freaks are thinking, and it’s nothing like Neverland Ranch.  Sickos, all of you!

The reason why there is such a crazy familial set up in their house is one of millions of sad stories that are commonplace in the third world.  Concha and Evaristo’s daughter illegally emigrated to the U.S. a year ago to find some kind of job to give her children and younger siblings a chance to pull themselves out of the endless cycle of poverty that is ubiquitous in this part of El Salvador and Latin America.  She left her children and family behind to make the long, dangerous trek to the United States where she found a job washing dishes in a restaurant making about $6 an hour.  While this job would be considered horrible by most Americans’ standards, for her it was a golden opportunity – and it paid off for her family.  With the money she made, she was able to send home enough money to send her children and siblings to school (although it is a relatively meager cost of $8 a year for schooling, this is exorbitant for a family making less than $100 a month), fund the construction of a new one bedroom cinder block house next door, and greatly improve the life of her loved ones.  So, keep this in mind before entering your float into the local anti-immigration parade.

Anywho, I taught my first English classes last weekend in Ciudad Romero, which was pretty fun.  There were four students in the first class and five in the second.  None of them spoke English, and with the wonderful combination of my miserable Spanish, it was truly interesting.  When they came into the class, I said “Hello” in English; one hour of uncomfortable silence and staring at one another later, I looked at my watch and said “Goodbye!”  I think the class really connected and learned a lot.  Actually, it was pretty fun.  I taught them numbers, letters, and colors, as well as important phrases like “where do you keep your women who have ingested illegal narcotics?” and also, “sometimes a cow can be better than a woman, because it does not want to talk after sexual intercourse.”  The basics, pretty much.

As for my Spanish, it is still about as good as the local village buffoon, but at least they don’t throw cabbage at me when I walk down the street like poor, misunderstood Juan Carlos.  Here’s an example of my proficiency in Spanish: the other day I was eating with the President of the Coordinadora (the local nonprofit organization I’m working with) and I ordered way too much food.  So, I decided to utilize a clever phrase from English and translate it into Spanish to explain my situation.  What I attempted to say was “my eyes are bigger than my stomach.”  Unfortunately, instead of this I said “Mis osos estan mas grande que mi estomago” – which translates to “My bears are bigger than my stomach.” Hmm.  He politely smiled at me, stood up from the table, walked to the payphone, called the police, and informed them that a mental patient had obviously escaped from the loony bin…and he had stomach-sized bears with him, so approach him with caution.

Well, that’s about it from here: just another week in the life of the only blond-haired person in the whole of El Salvador.  While I may be a strange-looking, inarticulate, foreigner with long way to go to start fitting in…at least I have cow fights.  

Sweet glorious cow fights.

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