Saturday, June 13, 2015

Perspective

Life has been beyond nuts in the armpit since my last post, and as I thought about which event to write about first, I started to think about perspective, and whether or not the glass is half empty. I thought about telling the story of Juan's truck, and how it was in police impound for over a month. Or how it took me almost 3 weeks and 3 cell phones to get back to my telemarketing job after my Magic Jack broke. Or the story of how the Magic Jack was destroyed, along with my brand new stove. Then there's the story of my long anticipated visit. With someone I met through this blog. And despite finally meeting one of the most genuine and sweet people I have come across, the visit was almost ruined - thanks to the car being in police custody, a depressed household thanks to the events that led to my destroyed stove (and dead parico), and the saga of the Magic Jack and trying to get back to work. Oh, and there's the growing rivalry between Dolfo and Juanito that makes me want to pull what hair I have left out. Basically, looking back on May, I am shocked that I have made it to June. And then perspective smacks you upside the head.

On Wednesday, as I was in San Miguel trying to work out the car issue and buy the third phone to try and replace the Magic Jack with, I got a phone call from my sister - in - law. As I was out of patience at the time I decided to wait to call her back. After finally growing so frustrated with Salvadoran beauracracy and getting on a bus home, (leaving Juan to  deal with it) I called her back, and frankly got blown out of the water.

But first.. the history...

On my first trip here I made friends with very few people. One was Anna, a woman who had grown up with Juan and his family, and who had made a point to come and meet me my first week here. I got to know her, and her son, and the rest of her family during those four months. And she was the one who stood by my side and made pupusas at our little store in centro.  Fast forward 6 years, and we are back, with Juanito in tow, Anna is still here, living in what I have a hard time even calling a house with her mom, dad, and now 2 sons. Along with two sisters and their various offspring. Anna worked in San Miguel now, but would always come around when needed. She was the one my suegra counted on during her visit to clean out the house and put their old crap in order. She was the one who took care of my sister in law and her new baby when they got home, and she was the one I asked to come and help me clean the house when I could no longer trust anyone else to.

Anna went back to San Miguel in February, leaving me her sister Betty to deal with the laundry. We have spoken one or two times since, and I have only seen her once as she waved to me from a passing bus.

Betty was here on Wednesday, but never mentioned a word to me...

My sister in law was calling to tell me that Anna had died Wednesday morning. Died, after having spent 5 days in the hospital in a coma. Saturday she had a headache and by Saturday night her brain was shutting down. The details mirror the death of my mother, who was about the same age as Anna when she died - both young in their mid thirties.

Perspective

I saw the funeral procession pass by my house today. I could not go as we are still without a car, and well frankly I don't like wakes and funerals. I prefer to remember Anna as she was in life, funny, caring and smart, instead of lying lifeless in a box.

Tomorrow is just a few hours away, and I am positive that with it will come a whole new set of frustrations, yet now I have something concrete to balance them against. For the rest of my life, I will be sorry to have lost Anna, but grateful for her last gift to me. Perspective.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Social Differences in El Salvador

I don't live in what I refer to as "the bushes" or what most consider a farm. I live in what is known as a caserio, or colonia - which is something like a burro version of a subdivision. The houses are butted up against each other, and if your neighbor puts on a second floor (like mine) they are looking down into your patio. But this is considered the good life for most. Although build me a nice house in the bushes and I'll take the cows and chickens any day over the constant sound of cars, and the chatter from my neighbors all around.
Juanito is getting a real life lesson in how privileged he really is. 10 days ago, while out drinking, a teenaged boy was pointed out to Juan. It was dark, and the boy was walking to the store to buy salt. Salt to put on his 2 tortilla dinner. He was pointed out because he is a young cousin of Juan's and the spitting image of his father, who is the spitting image of Juan. Throw Juanito in the mix and its quadruplets at various stages of life.
So the boy, Dolfo, came to our house, and is teaching us all a lesson in humility. He was wearing flip-flops that were so worn that they had no heel, so I guess a flip, without the flop. He had on a ripped t-shirt and shorts and is as skinny as my finger. Even the lady I took him to to buy pants chastised me for not feeding the boy.
His mother, who had left him years ago, now wants him back. Apparently he is a very valuable cow milker and corn planter. His father is too busy on his own campo to really care. Yet, when he came here after talking to the mother, and told Dolfo to get his stuff to go "home" the boy flat out refused. Has to make you wonder what else besides milking cows is going on in the campo.
He is shy to eat, and will still ask even for water even though I have already told him a 100 times to eat and drink whatever he wants. He is awed by our shopping trips to buy food, and shy to ask for something for himself.
The next step is to get him into school, which will be a project since he hasn't been for years. The hope is that the Catholic School where Juani goes will take heart and let him in and get him up to speed, even though the admission period is long over.
Having a kid like this around is an experience, and really makes you think about what is going on out in the bushes. And Dolfo is just one of thousands.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Looks Like They Got 'em Pretty Good

During the weekend killing sprees, the army managed to kill 3 of the suspects. The bodies were handed over to the families, and arrangements were made for the wake Monday night, and the funeral Tuesday. Well.... Monday night, while everyone was chowing down on tamales, bread and coffee, the police rolled up and rounded up 52 suspects. 52 who are all now sitting in jail, I know I am sleeping better now.

Monday, May 18, 2015

I Guess You Have to Believe Me Now

With lines of communication still down, and families being harassed as they try and visit the jails, people started to get pissed. They are not warring inside of these jails as the government alluded, they have taken it to the street. It is still early, but so far the count is at 22 IN 2 DAYS! 22 people, some innocent, some not, who are going to be buried in the next few days.
22 doesn't seem like a high number of homicides in a country of 6 million. But that is not a country count. I can't even imagine what that number is. 22 is in San Miguel alone. One departmento in the eastern portion of the country.
And this my friends is only the beginning.
My one finger salute to the peice of shit who thought this was a good idea.

Quick Update as the national figures are in for this past weekend and stand at a total of 85 people killed in 3 days. Since none seem to have been killed inside of the jails, and most were people who were not a part of the problem, I would hope that they are re-thinking this grand plan of theirs.

Monday, April 27, 2015

To Catch a Thief

Late last year, Juanito came across a hand-held game online that we both fell in love with. Not only did the bright white PSP Go look like a cell phone, it came with a slideable cover to protect its delicate parts. It also let you download games so no worries about dust messing that up either.
Apparently to the rest of the world, this is an outdated toy, but I found one brand new online for $80. Saved the money, and ordered it, forgetting until it was too late that Amazon has one of my BFF's address listed as mine. No worries, she was as kind as always and promptly shipped it off to the MIL once it got to her house on the other side of the country (gracias again Leo)
Now in the hands of the MIL, it took about 2 months and another $45 to get a viajero and get it here. Since then, it has been Juanito's best friend, and my new BFF is the one guy in Centro who was able to figure out how to download games onto it at just a dollar a pop.
Juani is not allowed to take this PSP Go many places, but the neighbors have a regular PSP and apparantly this allows them to play against each other, which is what he went to do late yesterday afternoon.
In the meantime, I took a shower and got into my jammies. He is due home at 6:30, so by 7 I was heading next door to kick some 11 year old butt. I was greeted by a different 11 year old - Javi- who was crying and carrying on about someone being hit. Next is 10 year old Yami who is pretty much in the same state. As I stood in the corridor and tried to figure out what the fuck happened, mom arrived home so we went inside forever.
Finally having Juanito in sight, I found out that the PSP Go was missing. Javi had put it on a shelf so that the 5 boys in the house could play outside. Left inside was young Yami and a lady who lives a bit down the street.
At first my neighbor refused to accept the gravity, and I was having a hard time getting my point across. She just kept insisting that Javi was wrong in where he had put it, and that it was somewhere else. I gave it 5 minutes - and this is important - during which time me and my neighbor both examined a hamaca that was on the same shelf before she put it on the kitchen table. The lady in the meantime left.
So we went home and I admit, I may have said some things to my child. I think I threw my gina at him too. (no worries, its soft) while his father went back home. Once calm, I got the whole story. No one had gone in or left the house. NO ONE and Juanito had watched as Javi put it on the shelf. All that hitting I had heard about was the biggest boy hitting the younger 3 for "losing" the toy.
From the sound of things, they were getting more of the same from their mother and I felt inclined to set things right. Back next door I told her repeatedly that the kid was not lying or mistaken about where he put it, and that none of the other KIDS had touched it afterwards.
The lady was back, but more interested in texting than the drama going on around her. We left, with the decision that we would do nothing else until the morning.
I sat in my corridor with bat in hand waiting for the bitch theif to leave. It wasn't the money, it was my son. I want him to have nice things, and this bitch took it. Within 15 minutes my neighbor was there with the PSP in hand. She found it she says inside of the hamaca. The same hamaca that had been checked on 3 separate occassions..
So here is what aggravates me. Why was she so quick to accuse her kids and punish them, when it was clear who the thief was. What's more, why would she then cover for the thief? (She finally admitted that the she thought the lady had taken it and put it back)  This is a common issue here. Parents routinely take the side of any adult over their own kid, even when in the wrong. It's why young girls get molested and raped with frequency, and the molesters and rapists roam free.
My son is my world, and will always be defended by his mother, maybe even if he is in the wrong. If we are not on their side, if we don't defend them, who will?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Just To Clarify

Looks as if Gotera has made national news with its recent relocation and acceptance of prisoners from a Sansonate jail. There is this misconception that they are perpetuating, trying to make it seem as if different gangs are now going to be mixed inside of the jails. That's not really what happened. The 13 were taken out, and the 18 brought in. Gotera is a 13 city, with its dirty deeds being dictated from behind the Gotera bars. 18 people don't live here, or if they do they are keeping that under wraps, or at least they were until their bosses showed up the other day. The war is not going to take place safely behind brick and mortar walls. It will take place in the streets, as wives, mothers and children of the 18 flock here to bring their beloved's water, food and clothes on visiting day.
Because now the little fish in the street have no one to report to. So it will be a power struggle as they try and figure out how to do things without the okay of the guy inside. He's gone now, to the other side of the country, and likely will be out of touch for weeks or more until someone can figure out how to get a cell phone to him. So his little fish are going to be flexing their little gills, and probably do stupid things in the mean time. While the 18 slowly infiltrates and tries to gain control. Anyone who lives where there are these 2 at odds will tell you, it's no picnic. The picnic is when one maintains control and the other stays far away.
So thanks to whoever came up with this cockimamy plan, and tried to hide it behind a big fat lie. Especially here, and now, where a 14+ year alcaldia just got overturned. What was once a semi peaceful small city, where extorsion on civilians was a big no-no, is now going to head into a period of anarchy as both the legal and non-legal governing forces are undergoing a major change at the same time. I give you the gringa one finger.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

What Was it I Just Said?

To reaffirm my upside down world theory, I was blessed today with one of the oddest things I have seen here yet, and that's saying a lot.

To start at the beginning, there was a raid nearby recently, and shots were fired, a gun was found and the police got pissed off. So as punishment, our big jail here in Gotera was emptied out completely today. All those guys shipped to another jail on the other side of the country. Late the same afternoon, 19 buses passed us by. No blacked out windows, or even bars. We got a full on view of 19 buses of shirtless prisoners, handcuffed in the back on their way to their new home. That is a long ass 6 hour drive. I don't have much love for these types of people, but there really had to be a more humane way of transferring them across the country.