|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.