As comes as no surprise, the first three weeks in El Salvador have flown by in a flash.
A quick summary of research progress so far:
- twelve 1- to 2-hour long interviews with community members Arada Vieja and El Palomar
- community workshops in Arada Vieja and El Palomar
- meetings with mayor, doctor, priest, teachers, school directors, FUNDAHMER (Salvadoran NGO), a UNDP representative, and a municipal hydrological committee
On Thursday, we completed a few more interviews in El Palomar. This time, Keily and I wandered around solo and interviewed folks we found along the way. One of the ladies we interviewed was a 76 year old woman with some great stories and a fantastic sense of humour. She grinned like a little school girl as she told us about her husband, 81, who was out working. During the interview, a mute girl came by on a bicycle selling fish. The woman bought a few of them and turned to us to explain “My husband LOVES fish soup!!!” and then continued “…I don’t though. So I’m going to fry it instead.”
That afternoon, I accompanied one of my new pals – president of the ADESCO in El Palomar – to a meeting at the municipal offices for the municipal hydrological committee. They’re working on a number of issues and have received some funding and some assistance from ACUA, a Salvadoran NGO, to do some comprehensive mapping of water resources.
On Friday, we had the community workshop in El Palomar. Attendance was quite good – about 20 adults and a fairly even split between genders and ages. We started off with an icebreaking activity to understand the breakdown of work for men and women over the months of the year. It was a hoot when it came time for each group to present their workloads to the other. The women presented a list a mile long of the work they have to do every day of the year. And the men started off explaining how in January and February they’re more or less resting at home. We learned a lot about the division of labour and had a good group discussion afterwards. Both sides had some really good laughs but some important points were made too.
From there, we went through the same processes of needs identification and prioritization as we had in Arada Vieja. We’d learned a little bit from that initial workshop and adjusted some of the techniques slightly for this one and I think that the result was good. Again, the feedback on the activities was positive – folks appeared to be enjoying themselves and the process seemed to be well understood and appreciated. And of course, the kids all did a great job at looking cute while they relieved me of all of the snacks we’d brought along!
On Friday evening, I went with some of the Epilogos folks for dinner at Los Planes de Renderos – THE spot to get pupusas in El Salvador (and probably the world!). It’s way up in the hills overlooking the city and there are strings of pupusa restaurants all along the road. The view was beautiful, the air was nice and cool and the company was just fantastic. And, to top it all of, we had the Peter Frampton’s “Baby, I Love Your Way” resonating from the enthusiastic CD vendors across the street. Beautiful.
And just when I thought things just couldn’t get any lovelier – I had the most fantastic weekend at a friend’s house on Lake Ilopango. Making pizza outside in the clay oven, s’mores over the fire, stargazing on the dock, waking up to build some early-morning sandcastles with my 3-year old buddy, swimming and kayaking, eating fresh fish, lying in hammocks and catching up with some fabulous people. I should probably leave it at that before anyone starts getting concerned that I’ve got it TOO good down here!!
This week, Keily and I are back to interviewing – now in the communities of La Serena and El Matazano. The first meeting and interviews took place in La Serena today. But more on that to come…