Monday, July 19, 2010

First Day Encounters

We arrived in San Salvador and went through customs.....that always takes a long time. The weather was sunny, humid and it was about 100 degrees. We wandered into a store filled with sweets and snacks called Diana. These are the foods that entice the children that lead to such problems with cavities. We then had a long drive through the mountains, where we checked out the view and Juan Carlos took a quick group shot of us, and then we stopped for traditional Salvadorean pupusas - hold the cabbage and hold the salsa. We can only eat fruits and vegetables that are peeled. So, no salsa!! It's hard to remember what not to eat and what is ok. It was a long, tiring day from waking up at 3 a.m. and arriving at ASAPROSAR at 8 p.m. I have to get used to the fact that all of the meals are long - 2 or 3 hours it seems.

We unloaded our vans in pouring rain, welcomed by two guards in the walled in compound of ASAPROSAR carrying semi-automatic rifles. Security is very tight here, but we are safe that way. We couldn't figure out if the security is needed or if it is just part of the culture here, but we can only come and go in the vans with Juan Carlos and our drivers. Juan Carlos (or JC) is the man and our go to guy for everything.

Sunday we played tourist to have a better understanding of the places we will be working in. We went to Tazumal, a Mayan ruin which was incredible. A 3,000 year old Mayan ruin. Our tour guide only spoke spanish, but Juan Carlos diligently translated for those of who are Spanish-challenged (me). The guide gave info about everything from the Mayan soccer games, sacrificial rituals, and the reasons behind each architectural detail. They have only unearthed about 30% of the temple and it was huge. It's unlikely to ever be fully excavated anytime soon as there are only five archaeologists working on it.

We then drove to the coffee plantation Santa Leticia where we had a great lunch with coffee of course, and toured the coffee fields. Our guide attempted to drive our van up a steep road paved with rocks and a few boulders, but we safely got out and walked up the steep hill. Mud was everywhere, as it was humid, hot, and it's been raining several times a day. We walked through the coffee fields, taking photos of coffee beans, spiders, picking up ancient ceramica that washs up to the surface because of the rain. Our grand finale was when we arrived at the 20,000 lbs carved heads, which is comprised of rock composition originating from Guatemala, which is a mystery. We also took lots of photos of familiar plants, an incredible biodiversity, and strange, tropical flowers.

Today, we are doing the promotoras training and tomorrow we are off to work in "the field." More to come! Keep positive thoughts that Colgate-Palmolive and the El Savadorean Ministry of Health want to further support the work we have already accomplished.

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