Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Sorry I have posted in a while. Things have been absolutely crazy here in the last week. We have been going gangbusters trying to get this show finished. Not sure if you saw my facebook post but in 5 days with the help of 2 part time people I/we managed to draft 8 patterns and then cut and sew 36 tunics, 10 tanks, 14 pairs of pants, 3 long skirts and 9 short skirts. And we were done in time to do all of the fittings on Sat. afternoon. 36 fittings done in 2 hours in the sweltering heat! Crazy!
Now we are frantically trying to finish everything for our preview on Friday evening. Every new day brings with it interesting and unique challenges. For example, yesterday morning we still had several items to finish for the press conference in the afternoon. We arrived to work bright and early only to find that they were burying the power lines in the building and so our entire workshop was covered in a thick layer of fine plaster-type dust and we had absolutely no power. For the rest of the morning the power went on and off with no notice as the carpenter kept trying to make the lights work. This also makes it very difficult to use a sewing machine safely. Finally we got an electrician called in and by about 1pm we had the power back up and running. We got the stuff done and the press conference went quite well.
Overall, in wardrobe we have 80 separate items to complete and we have 31 finished as of first thing Wed morning. We have made leaps and bounds in the last couple of days and I have the utmost confidence that things will work out great and we will all be ready by Friday.
I think we are all looking forward to seeing the friendly faces of Robbin and Mary-Ann today - which I think will help to re-energize the troops. It's been a stressful few days but I think everyone is starting to see everything starting to come together as we push forward the rest of this week.
I don't know if I will be able to post much until the show is over (right now I am sneaking this blog in while I am sitting in a production meeting! :) I'll try to recap as much as possible afterwards though - with hopefully a bunch of pictures to accompany it.
A week from today we head home and I am already starting to feel the mixture of excitement to see everyone at home but intense sadness to leave all of our new friends here. Before I get more weepy I'll sign off.
Wish us luck.....
Monday, March 22, 2010
I'm back, but afraid this may be my only post this week until after the opening on Saturday. It's chaotic right now as we struggle to complete the show. We haven't got a great pool of volunteers in props and wardrobe, (though the ones that are here and dedicated are awesome)! We could definitely have used the week before we finally got the crate and a few more sewers to help get this show well on its feet. Tomorrow is media day, so we're in a huge crunch to finish half the costumes and masks. On Saturday, we had 36 back to back fittings outside in the heat, but they went relatively well and now it's all minor alterations and detailing. I know we're all a little exhausted, but our spirits are still high and I know that whatever we can get to the stage will be more then the community is expecting.
On another note, the reason why I haven't written for a bit is because I was sick again. So sick in fact, that our team leader Tatiana and Director, Ed, decided it best that I visit the hospital emergency room, and thankfully I did. Whatever infection I got shortly after arriving resurrected itself violently last week and I spent a great deal of time running from bathroom to bathroom. I was so sick, tremors and dizziness, faintness and vomit, not to mention all the other gross things. Once at the hospital it all took a turn for the worse and the team there immediately hooked me up to some IV's for re-hydration while they performed some tests. All in all I got pricked about 6 times in my confused state and have all the bruises to prove it. Tatiana was amazing, very motherly as I tried to rest under some additional medication they gave to me. 5 hours later and 2 full IV bottles emptied I got the results of the tests. From what I understand, I have a severe stomach infection. The hospital crew were incredibly surprised by the amount of white blood cells I had floating around in my test samples, nearly 100 x the norm. I was given a slew of antibiotics and stomach aids and finally was able to go home. The hospital in Suchitoto isn't the most sanitary I've seen, but Tatiana was very strict in making sure that all the needles were used only once and freshly unwrapped from their protective package. I cannot thank her enough. I was so incredibly nervous and nobody spoke English, so to have an advocate there was a relief. The hospital is small, and the staff seem very knowledgeable, but with the country as poor as it is, the resources were less then desirable. There were only two toilets, neither of them had light bulbs, (cost cuts), and patients are expected to bring their own toilet paper. The kind nurse gave me her supply as I ran to the main toilet in the waiting room, to throw up in front of all the other patients with the door ajar so I could see where I was aiming. During our training we had to reenact a scenario surrounding a visit to a rural hospital where a westerner is rushed to the front of the line, taking precedence over a group of local patients including women with children and pregnant mothers. We were asked what we would do if placed in the situation. I know we all want to say that we would wait our turn, but let me tell you from personal experience that your survivalist nature kicks in. I don't know if I budded in front of one person or five, but as I was fading quite fast and dehydrated beyond belief I didn't care. Tatiana made sure I was hooked up as quickly as possible to the IV, and the entire scene is bit of a blur from then on. I drifted in and out of consciousness and awoke to different faces and voices each time, but consistently Tatiana was there in the corner, smiling and keeping my spirits up.
Things are improving with my health slowly and I'm going to stay until the end. I'm managing to keep food and water down now, and only have slight waves of nausea. I tire easily, but am doing as much as I can to keep the design momentum going. Mel is working extremely hard and Mike is also now in the thick of things having moved into the Chapel Theatre last night. It's going to be a push, but in the end after seeing the heart and soul that the kids and staff are putting into the project I wouldn't trade this experience for any other. That being said, we're all treating ourselves to 3 nights at the fancy French hotel after the opening. It'll be a well deserved reward and a chance for us all to sit back, reflect and enjoy the benefits of some pampering.
Until Opening night, I wish you all the best. Keep the sun out for us when we return next week. Ciao.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Friday, March 19, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Wow! What a thunderstorm last night. Incredible thunder and lightning. Intense downpours that lasted for hours. I had a moment of panic when I wondered if our room would leak (it is just that rippled tin after all) but was too tired to wake up enough to really care. I think the thunderstorms were a good metaphor for what was to come later in the day.
I think the heat is starting to get to everyone (no, the rain did nothing to cool things off – think pouring water over hot rocks in a sauna!) and the tensions due to our lack of time are starting to build. There were a couple of minor freakouts today from all involved (well, maybe not Mike but as I said yesterday his posse is awesome). I know, you’re all thinking awesome… just what we’ve been waiting for.
We had a production meeting this morning went well except no-one from Es Artes was really there. We knew that Tatiana couldn’t be as she had an important meeting in San Salvador but she had said that Evelyn (kind of the office manager) would replace her. I am not sure what happened but Evelyn was not at this meeting. It was fine and we managed to keep up communication between all of us and I sent out an email afterwards with minutes so that everyone could stay in the loop. It’s really the same type of communication gaps that happen in every theatre/business/project. I think we might feel they are amplified here because we already feel a distance due to our language barrier. Who knows? After all of our freakouts about various things I think we all realized (or reminded each other) that we need to take a moment and remember that we are not in our own country and that we need to be respectful of how some things might work differently here or that there may be extenuating circumstances as to why something is not happening that we think should be.
Due to my own freakout, Tito managed to get in touch with the welder guy at Esquela Taller, Mario and made arrangements to have the base of the sewing machine fixed. Mike figured out what needed to be done and sent one of his guys to the school with the pieces with Ed, the director, driving Patricia, the assistant director’s, truck. With a combined effort from everyone we had that sewing machine up and running by lunch. Yay!!!!! And a huge thanks to everyone who made this happen.
The only problem is that we don’t have enough people to be running 2 machines right now. The lovely seamstress, Soyla, was back all day today and she went to town on putting together the tunics (she is rapidly catching up to everything I have cut!) And, Ojenia was in this morning continuing on preparing the material for the God tunics. However, by after lunch we were down to just Soyla and me. 2 people with 38 tops and bottoms to cut, sew, alter and finish in under a week leaves me feeling very, very worried. I think that we were under the impression that the school was more up and running and that each department would have a pool of volunteers from the school. Mike certainly has a very dedicated crew who show up at 8:30 and don’t leave til 5pm and diligently work away at any task he gives him (even when it is soldering Soca ends!) But I think Sean and I are feeling a bit adrift. We’ll have more conversations with everyone at Es Artes and I am sure they will find some more volunteers for us. I feel kind of bad right now though as I don’t feel like I am really teaching them anything new – that instead I am the one who is learning so much. (Spanish, all about local natural dying processes and techniques)
Despite the bit of tension in the air I do feel like we had a very productive day. We now have all but the God tunics cut and almost all of the community and hunter tunics put together. Sean has agreed to ‘simplify’ the basic design just a bit so that the bottoms of the costume will either be a pair of capris/short pants, a short or a long wraparound skirt. I drafted a pattern for the pants this afternoon (Good Lord I hate pattern drafting – it takes me forever!!!!!). So now all of the pants are cut for the hunters. Sean had a couple of women preparing the quilted bits for the maypole (I think he talked about this element of the set design in his last blog) and we will have Soyla start on that tomorrow. All in all, it is going quite well. We have 2 days before costume fittings and so far I feel confident that we should have a top and a bottom for everyone by that time. Then comes the altering and finishing!!!!
Mike’s day seemed be very productive as he had his crew working on a mock-up of the larger lighting grid we hope to erect in the chapel. We cannot hang anything or lean against anything so anything that we do has to be free-standing. From the mock-up they did it seems like everything should work very well. They are a funny group of young guys – very machismo. Every time I wander out there to see what’s going on they all look at me like I am crazy. I was checking out the mixer that we brought with us and Mike and I had a bit of a conversation about it’s various features and the guy he had been showing it to gave me this look of complete and utter confusion. We decided tonight that I should go out and give them a soldering lesson tomorrow or something just to shake them up a bit more! :)
By 6:30 the light had faded enough that it was difficult to work and so off we went to dinner. We went to a new restaurant this time – Harlequin. Fancier than where we have been going and still very yummy. I had the ‘Plato Tipico’ which is a piece of beef, refried beans, avocado, fresh cheese, a salad and some fried plantains. Very, very tasty! We wandered to the square and our favourite hangout, Lupitas, for a couple of night caps and some cards. Then we sleepily meandered home while stargazing and the intense night sky and lamenting that we only have 2 more weeks in this crazy, amazing little town.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
|Back again, taking a break this afternoon briefly from mask and shield building to tell you all about what's been shaking down the pipe, as they say.|
First off, the weather has been incredibly humid and much to the disbelief of the community, it has been raining in March which hasn't helped. When the crate finally arrived yesterday morning from Stratford and the sky began to pour, you could only laugh. I think it was a test from the Mayan gods to our determination!!!
We unloaded the truck with several helpers and directed them to the courtyard and workrooms, trying as we went to pile like with like. With the boxes labelled in English only and the helpers uni-lingually Spanish, there was a lot of arm-waving and pointing. It was how I imagined my career as a airport runway director, only far more exciting because the supplies had finally arrived.
The next 48 hours have been spent unpacking and digging for the materials needed to proceed with the show. We are at a loss for shelving at the moment, so there has been a bit of frustration and a significant lack of floor space, but with some ingenuity we have managed to construct a few things to help with storage. A storage skid has been upturned and nailed to 1x3 to create a rocking painting corner, housing the brushes on nails. Some cinder-block and plank shelves have been used to create our swatch wall full of bits and pieces from Stratford's scrap fabric collection. Having a place to put things has made today go so much smoother. We managed to get the first sewing machine up and running yesterday (with a few choice words that can't be printed and a TON of oil up and down my arms), and today a local guy from the trade school managed to weld the legs of the second table back together and it is now running just as smoothly. Thankfully all they needed was a little TLC to get them going and not a full overhaul. By the end of yesterday we were all ripe and filthy but so pleased that we finally had the beginnings of a proper workspace with the equipment needed to get the show underway. We've had a ton of volunteers chipping in and Mike has been holding an electrics 101 for some local boys that seems to be going really well. They're not so keen to help with the wardrobe side, but with a little encouragement, (or bribery of cool beverages), they've been helpful with some of the more menial tasks of sorting thread spools. It seems that gender roles are still played out in the workplace and there's a definite divide between MANual labour and craft-work. I think that'll change soon once they see how much fun props can be!
We've had a lovely seamstress in who spent the early part of the week dying some fabric in the traditional indigo technique for our story, which has been great. It's really nice to be able to use the skills that are here and to draw from the culture for the telling of our myth. I think the audience will really connect with the colours and textures of the show and recognize the effort.
Speaking of which, you might be asking what is the show? Well, it's a short myth loosely based on classic folklore from the Mayan and Aztec culture. It begins with a group of Hunters who are granted special help in finding their sport by the gods if they remain humble and serve the community. A group of troublesome spirits arrive to corrupt the morals of our proud group and soon the game is being used for riches and not survival. Once this is discovered by the community and the gods, the Hunters are threatened with exile, but plead for a second chance. In our story they get one, under some serious conditional terms, but in the authentic tale they are sent to live in the woods invisible from society forever.
I have been researching the Mayan and Aztec culture, drawing from their art and tools to design the props and costumes. I'm using a lot of symbolism, giving each character their own role in the community. As an example, the Mayans believed that the directions of North, South, East and West were connected with colours from their world so I have been assigning roles to the hunters that coincide with these beliefs labelling a character, Hunter of the North with his matching colour as a companion and so on. Their costumes will reflect traditional Mayan simplicity, indigo dyed with their symbolism painted on as a crest for others to recognize them by. I will also be using stones and local beads to enhance and denominate the social structure of the tribe. We've managed to pull together some wonderful natural textures from the scraps that Stratford sent and will be incorporating these into shawls, bundles and baby wraps. In addition we have a multi-level stage for playing on that has a centre insert for a style of maypole to celebrate the riches of the hunt. I'm taking more scraps to create a patchwork collage on the ribbons to give the piece some extra depth and bring some natural life to the ceremony. Masks will play a role in the misgivings of our trickster spirits, disguising them from the world as they try to stir up doubt and distrust with in the community. All of these projects are fairly loose in the way they are laid out, so there is some room for the local volunteers to participate and bring their own style to the piece. I'm really looking forward to seeing how it all comes together.
That's about it for now. Lots to do so I should run before someone thinks the designer is slacking. Thanks for all your support, some costume renderings will be posted soon for you to get a clearer idea of what the traditional garb might have looked like in the period.
Buenos, Sean xo
As the days are getting quite busy now I find I do not have the time to do my leisurely morning writing and blog posting. So, I will endeavour to type them out at night and post them first thing when I arrive at Es Artes the following morning. This has resulted in two days in one posting.
We've been here a week already! Crazy! We had quite a productive day today - albeit a bit of a stressful one at times. Shortly after our arrival at Es Artes this morning a woman arrived and started watching me as I worked. I went to the office to ask who she was and was told she was here to help sew. ‘Great’, I thought, ‘my first volunteer’. I have to say, I am a bit proud of myself as I managed to converse with her enough to exchange names (her name is Soyla – sp?) and gather that she does not speak any English. Apparently I did the well enough that she was convinced that I spoke ‘un pocito’ of Spanish. The rest of the conversation proved that I, in fact, do not know un pocito and I finally gave in and went to find someone to translate and we set to work. An hour and a half went by and we still had not seen the woman who we were told would be there at 9am to discuss the dying of the fabric. As I may have mentioned already, I was quite nervous to get this dying process started as we are dying a great deal indigo and I have heard that this process takes quite a bit of time. So, back to the office I go to ask if we knew when this woman was going to show up. They replied, ‘She’s in there already.’ I said, ‘What do you mean? You said she was a seamstress.’ The said, ‘Yes, she is that too!’ After quite an intense discussion involving about 7 people (3 of whom didn’t necessarily need to be there) we established that yes, she is doing the dying for us. We gave her all that we wanted dyed and she left to get started. Sigh! With that settled, I finished cutting the tunics for the Traviesos (or Tricksters) Oh! Have I mentioned the four categories of characters yet? There are: Tricksters = Traviesos
Gods = Dioses
Community = Comunidad
Hunters = Cazadores
In the afternoon I set to work drafting the pattern for the camisoles/tanks for the Gods’ underlayer. Sean and I also had the opportunity to go and see Soyla at work dying the fabric. There is a woman’s centre in Suchitoto where local women make a variety of different products (mostly sewn) and there is space there for dying as well. I don’t have the details yet on how it works – whether they rent space or are paid to be there. But it was great to see and they were so welcoming and friendly and we went through. The indigo dying process is long, intense, and very smelly. First, you need to wash and treat the fabric in preparation for dying. It must they dry completely before the dying happens. Then, depending on how dark you want the finished product, you need to dip it in the dye 4-8 times (for medium to dark fabric). I think it needs to dry somewhat between each of these dips. It takes a very patient and committed person to do this process. Soyla is definitely both of these things. I’ll try to post pictures soon.
The container is here!!!!!!!! They said it would be today but I didn’t truly believe it until we walked around the corner and there it was. Tons of people had arrived to help unload and we quickly set to work. The mood in the air was difficult to describe as mere words don’t really capture the joy, optimism, excitement, relief and just absolute glee that was in the air. People kept remarking that it was just like Christmas not quite believing all of the materials that were sent.
For the most part, everything made it quite successfully. One of the sewing machines busted the welds that were holding the legs on and so it had fallen over and dumped machine oil over a couple of toolboxes. Some of the lights on the rack had loosened off their C-clamps and a couple of shutters had popped out (as we had anticipated) but there was not any real damage that was done. Overall, the equipment and materials had survived the trip very well.
The rest of the morning was spent sorting and organizing for us. Sean had a couple of people that had shown up to help him with props but so far, I was on my own. We tried to organize our props/wardrobe workroom as best as possible but we are still waiting on shelves and so could only do so much. Mike had 4 guys that had shown up to work with him on sound and lighting stuff and they were so eager!!!!!! Mike set them to work right away sorting and organizing. Checking all of the lighting fixtures and fixing anything that needed it. I’ll have to post pictures of the Intro to Electricity lesson that Mike gave mid-morning. They are all listening so intently! I watched them afterwards putting twist-lock plug ends on cable and being so careful to do exactly what Mike had taught them – never grumbling when Mike had them re-do something, just intense concentration as they tried to make it perfect. They worked all day in this sweltering heat never once complaining (even when Sean and I made a couple of them sort spools of thread until Mike could find another project for them). Our North American teenagers and young adults could take a lesson from these guys!
After lunch Soyla arrived with the newly dyed indigo fabric. It looks amazing!!!! I tried to ask if she was here to help for the rest of the afternoon. Words failed but actions didn’t as she quickly got the jist of what I was doing and jumped right in. By mid-afternoon Sean and Mike had managed to get one of the sewing machines working (while I continued cutting more fabric). I took over to thread a bobbin and then thread the machine and try it out. Soyla and I had this fabulous exchange with her holding the manual and me threading the machine. I am not quite sure if she was asking me about the features of the machine - telling me about how to make the stitches longer or shorter, adjust the tension, move from zigzag to straight stitches. I do feel however that the smiling she was doing at the end of this was really saying ‘Good job little girl on learning that machine!’ :) The whole thing just makes me chuckle. She left soon afterwards but she is coming back tomorrow and is ready to sew! Oh, I also found out that two of her children are in the show. Sean showed her a costume sketch of what her son will be wearing and I truly don’t think I have seen a prouder mother.
After this I was on my own again and set to work cutting the dark indigo cloth which will be the tunics for the hunters. It was a bit nerve racking as we didn’t quite have enough fabric for all 8 tunics so I had to make some interesting adjustments on the fly and I was so nervous about screwing up the beautiful work that Soyla had done. It worked out in the end and by 6 tonight all of the hunter tunics were cut. We were all hot and sweaty from out long day so we finally packed it in around 7pm and headed out for dinner with Patricia and Capitan Roca. (I did get the story on the Capitan part of his name but it is too cute to share via blog.)
We have decided to have a brief production meeting every morning at 8:30am so that we can be sure that everyone is on the same page as we all head into the rest of the day (as communication has been a bit of an issue – just like it is in most theatres, businesses etc.)
I’ll post pics as soon as I can or can perhaps get Mike to!
So much excitement here. It’s truly amazing.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Ahhh…. Sleeping in… what a beautiful thing. We agreed that after our crazy disco night that we shouldn’t push ourselves and so agreed that we would meet for breakfast at noon and then head over to Es Artes after that.
When we arrived we discovered that the room was finished being painted and we set to work. Over the next couple of hours I drafted the pattern for the small and medium size of tunics, measured out the fabric to be dyed and the other fabrics we will be using, and Sean and I finalized what fabric would be used for which group of characters and had some further discussions about the design of the show. It was a very successful afternoon and this greatly helped put my mind at ease knowing that at least this pattern was done – pattern drafting not being my forte!
We had a let down when we found out that the pool closes at 5pm on Sundays :( so we headed off to the Town Square for cervezas instead. Let’s talk about the Square shall we. What a vibrant, welcoming, wonderful place the Town Square is. On the weekends there are food and slushy carts that come out and a whole market of craft stalls is set up. During the weekdays it is bustling with people as soon as they are done work and on Sat. and Sun. it is like this all day long. It seems like all the town’s children were gathered there – some playing soccer, three were having a race from the fountain to a tree, and two more were hopping from cobblestone to cobblestone. Grandmothers and grandfathers, moms and dads, neighbours and friends all gather in the Square. Life is vibrant here. It made me sad for Stratford (and many town and cities in Canada) whose town life is being pushed out of its core and into suburbs and shopping centres. Where is the human connection? We seem to have forgotten the importance of taking the time to say ‘Hello! How was your day?’ and truly taking the time to be interested and listen to their answer. Perhaps if Stratford’s downtown core was more than a parking lot and bus depot we would have this kind of vibrancy here. I should be clear that we definitely have this kind of connection and attitude within the shops themselves, however it is when you leave those spaces and walk outside to concrete that that joy is lost. I realize that this also takes a change in people’s attitudes as well and maybe I am putting the cart before the proverbial horse in wishing for a re-design of our ‘town square’ but I can’t help but ruminate over what might be… Alright. I will get off of my soapbox now. :)
Well… wait… I have to sort of step back up there for a moment - but on a completely different topic. We were also told a story today by one of the actors working with us that has upset me quite a bit. I can’t do anything to change the situation but I feel the need to share it with you and maybe this same kind of thing can be avoided in some small way elsewhere. It seems that the main job of this actor is to teach acting to a group of – how do I put it politely – disadvantaged youth in San Salvador. Basically this arts program (acting, drawing, dance etc.) is what keeps most of these kids going as it gives them some positive thing to look forward to during their week. Well, this teacher showed up at the school on Sat. to teach their class only to find no students at all and all of the rest of the teachers crowded around wondering what was happening. Eventually, someone arrived to announce that the program had been ‘suspended’ while the new government (who took control under a year ago) was reviewing all of the old governments programs. Really what is happening is that the new government is just canceling any program that was created by the previous government. The teachers, understandably, are truly devastated. Not only do they all lose their jobs with no warning at all but hundreds of children are left to suffer the consequences of this decision. Argh!!!!! Politics!!!!! Who is going to be harmed by this – the previous government, their policy makers, their supporters? No! It’s innocent children who now have one less good thing in their lives. In a city and country that is so plagued by gang violence and criminal activity why on earth would you cancel a program that was keeping the youth from gravitating towards these activities? Arghhhh!!!!! Ok… now I’m definitely getting off my soapbox. (and hopefully will not be imprisoned for it! :)
We ended our evening with a lovely dinner at Gringos with Patricia and Ojenia. I tried the Tortilla Soup. It was spectacular! We found out at dinner that we have apparently come to El Salvador at the worst time of year. It’s the time of year that is the hottest, with subsequently the most disease, when even the locals get sick! (I feel slightly vindicated regarding my recent intestinal woes)
Travel Tip of the Day:
Don’t come to El Salvador in March – wait til December instead :)
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Disco Church (you can do amazing things with Par Cans and a chase sequence!)
|This morning I tripped on a chihuahua. I think it was a metaphor for the town of Suchitoto. At first glance, you can pass by it in a blink and never know what sleeps there, but if you land on, (and kick it), you'll be amazed at how much life and vigour lies beneath the sleeping dog. I'm not going to lie, with the heat and illness, the language barrier and isolation and the mere sense of general confusion, it has taken me a while to warm up to this place, (pardon the pun). Now, with the better part of a week past I am finally beginning to see what people find so appealing about this community and what it has to offer. The people are all very welcoming, and patient. When I was at a loss for words at the Farmacia, a customer stepped in to translate my wild gesticulations for 'puke'. I have discovered the local bakery, which opens quite early and is on my way into Es Artes. The goods are so fresh and the staff so lovely, it's sugar cookies were all I survived on during my troubled days early in the week. The staff at the theatre are all so keen to build the project and provide support in any and all ways they can. They work with you to bridge the divide in language and generate so many great ideas I sometimes wonder why they even need me here to coordinate the design. At night the town meets in the square just to be neighbourly and by 11pm the whole village is serene and peaceful, except for the dogs and roosters who crow at each other under the stars. Everyone is hot and everyone is sweaty, so convincing someone to have a beer with you is never a challenge. My room is air-conditioned, thankfully, and it has all I truly need in a 12 x 12 space, except for spare towels. |
Yesterday we made a day trip into San Salvador central market, with one of our co-workers, a driver and a translator. Picture Kensington, 50 times the size with all the stalls built right on top of one another in a maze of baskets and clay, dried fish and sweaty chicken. We had a great time, stayed safe and nobody was robbed. At one stall we spent $60, so the lady working there took a liking to us. She decided that it would be fun to be our host for the remainder of the trip and guided us around corners and down aisles to all the best stalls, finding all we needed on our list. She was amazing and even helped carry our goodies to the bus we had rented for the day. I thought that perhaps the staff here had known her from before, but as it turns out she too was hot and bored and just wanted something to do to pass the time. I am so grateful for her help in finding the right fabrics in the bizarre of flannel and polyester. The natural cottons she dug out for us, I would never have found on my own and the terracotta colour of one is unlike any I've every seen before. We found hand braided rope and clay cooking pots. Carved wooden 'daggers' and beads of all kinds. Turquoise is very popular here and I have been encouraged to use it in the traditional costume wear.
Today I look forward to opening up the bags and playing with my new supplies. I am also very anxious to see some the local artisan galleries, and as I walked out of the bakery this morning I saw the townspeople setting up a local market in the square. Souvenirs here I come! I plan to attempt bartering now that I feel a little more comfortable and today I may even eat some more solid foods.
This may not be the place for me to retire to, but I understand why people come here, why they might fall in love with the country and why we are working so hard to make a positive impact on it aside from its civil strife. I miss home, but I am also looking forward to the adventures that lay ahead here in the sleepy city of Suchitoto. Its definitely a cultural shift, and one I likely needed to know how lucky I am to live in the snow filled home of the free.
Sorry to the flea ridden dog, let me point out that he was not mortally harmed when I stumbled upon his stone bed in the road.
Signing off, Sean.
Friday, March 12, 2010
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
This is the view from where Sean is staying.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
The Chapple space is wonderful, old worn fresco's on the wall that are bareley visible. Wood beams hand chissled and peeling stucco. It's magical in a distressed way, not unlike how I pictured the church in Pentecost a few years back. Next door is the children's art school where pictures are framed in the outdoor courtyard and painted umbrellas hang from the rafters. We also went to the school today, where the technical students will train and it has such promise. It's a great workspace that can grow into a fully modern shop in no time. We explored the 'wardrobe-to-be' room and talked about how it might look set up and I could fully visualise a team like ours in the wardrobe downstairs working away.
Not speaking the languge is tough, but I'm picking up words here and there and hopefully will be able to string a few together before I leave.
Much love to all. From Central America, signing off.