Los Almendros y San Salvador

Tuesday, June 6th, was the first day that Laura, Osiris, and I went to Los Almendros to teach English to a 4th grade class. We set out at 7:45AM that morning to catch a bus that we found out did not arrive until 8:20AM. Walking around Suchi this time, it seemed like everyone was awake and busy. While waiting at the bus stop, we decided to walk around and explore that area since we had never gone down that street before. We found a pet store, a few pupusarias, and a small store that does manicures and pedicures for only $8 for both – it would cost around $50 back in Minnesota! The bus finally and thus started what was my first time on a public bus in Central America. After stepping on, I first noticed that there was no one asking for bus fare which surprised me. Everyone went directly to a seat and sat down. The second thing I noticed was the music which made me feel like I was on some sort of party bus. The music was very loud and definitely woke me up from any sleep I still had in me. After about 15 minutes and a few stops, a guy came around and started collecting bus fares. Every time someone got off he would yell “¡Visa! ¡Visa!” (that’s what it sounded like to me at least) and the bus would stop, the person would get off, the guy yelling would get off at the back after collecting fare ($0.90 is what I paid roundtrip) and then run to the front of the bus to get the fair of those that had just gotten on….confused yet? I basically was trying to figure out what was going on the whole bus ride! It was really fun but definitely a culture shock. What was most shocking was the atmosphere of the bus…the music, the passengers, the men working on it, and even the items people brought along with them on the bus! It was all really fun and I’m excited for my next bus ride!

Los Almendros in itself was a whole other adventure. We got there about 20 minutes earlier than needed so we waited in the principals office. When it was time for us to start, the children greeted us as their teacher left the room. There was a soccer game going on right outside of the classroom so the children were extra excited. We started our lesson plan outside with a name game so we could attempt to learn at least a few of their names. After that, we went back to the classroom and started with the alphabet. After writing out the pronunciations in Spanish and having them repeat it themselves, we broke them up into three groups and ATTEMPTED to practice vowels, letters that are hard to pronounce (v, b, x), and the order of the alphabet. This was not as successful as we had hoped it would be. For the last 20 minutes or so we came together again as a big group and played a game. One cluster of about 5 or so students would come to the front of the class where we showed them a flash card with a letter of the alphabet on it. They had to form the letter with their bodies and the rest of the class had to guess which letter it was. By the time everyone had gone our time was up. Looking back, it went a lot better than I thought while I was doing it but it was still pretty exhausting with about 24 students and 3 volunteers! I do not want to imagine what it would be like if I were teaching by myself. On the bus ride back we ended up on the exact same but that dropped us off. This time was a little different because we stopped at a community on the way back to Suchi. A group of around 30-40 little kids came on the bus and I gave my seat up which was probably not the best idea! I almost fell twice, doing what I could to not fall on the students surrounding me. We got back to Suchi around 12:30-1:00PM and then went directly to eat! The next Tuesday we were supposed to be going to Los Almendros (June 17) is Fathers Day here so apparently all schools (including the Center) will be closed. After lunch, Osiris and I taught Galinas Intermediate class since she was not feeling well. Since it was sprung on us we did not have anything planned nor did we know what they had already learned so we had no expectations.  It turned out pretty well. They all had a pretty good understanding of the basic things.

The following morning, Wednesday, June 7th, was fairly busy for me as I had two classes in a row. First Computer, which is still the hardest for me to teach – followed by English and this time I had about 10 students that showed up. I gave them a few verbs and then taught them present and past forms of them. I then had them write 10 sentences – 5 in the present and 5 in the past with the verbs I gave them. At first they were all really quiet and hesitant but as I started walking around and correcting them when I saw mistakes they had written they became a lot more comfortable with asking questions and for specific vocabulary words. I did not have any more classes the rest of the week until Saturday which was my second Computer class. In this class I tried to get everyone to make an email address which was very difficult with so many people! A couple people were successful though, so I’m counting my victories. After class I went back home so I could get my stuff together for our weekend trip!

Saturday friend Medardo got to Suchi at around 12PM, just in time for lunch. We ate with him in la plaza and then we set out for the beach in La Libertad. We arrived around 3 or so and went to a lounge/restaurant place where I ate again and then we took a walk on the beach which turned into swimming. The water was very warm which was a nice surprise! We got back to the car around 7PM and headed to another beach town for dinner. There we met up with a couple of Medardo’s friends for pupusas but left soon after eating because it started to rain. That night we stayed in San Salvador at Los Pinos which is the guest house I stayed at my first time in El Salvador. Medardo’s mom bought the house behind them and expanded the entire guest house into an even bigger place. The addition was incredible! The following Sunday we woke up and went to breakfast at Pops – an Ice Cream shop a couple of blocks away from the house (per my suggestion). After Pops we got lunch at Mister Donut, a donut shop that also has food with more substance. We then went to the volcanos called San Salvador. All volcanos in El Salvador are active which definitely makes me nervous since there are communities living so close to them. The volcano had 4 viewpoints where you can see a huge crater called El Gigante. After walking to all of the viewpoints we went to the museum and then some fruit stores set up right outside of the entrance of the volcano. This weekend was much needed and reminded me of how much of a city person I am. I like Suchitoto but I would not want to live here for any longer than 2 months!

This museum translations that I have been so looking forward to doing are not yet ready so I still feel like I am not as busy as I would like to be. Therefore, I’ve taken up learning how to play the Piano. My first lesson was today and I think did a pretty good job! Emily, another volunteer here, gives classes but when her students do not show up (days like today), I will be her student. The goal is to try to get the same set up going with a volunteer that just arrived on Saturday named Kate but with the guitar. I have 3 to 4 more weeks to take full advantage of free lessons and I plan on doing so!

El Gigante from afarCloser shot of El GiganteClosest shot of El Gigante