Eso es alcanzar lo más alto,

lo que tal vez nos dará el Cielo:

no admiraciones ni victorias

sino sencillamente ser admitidos

como parte de una Realidad innegable,

como las piedras y los árboles.

Jorge Luis Borges

Fervor de Buenos Aires (1923)

This is the best that can happen,

What heaven perhaps will grant us:

Not to be wondered at or required

To succeed

But simply to be let in

As part of an undeniable Reality,

Like stones of the road, like trees.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Yes, it’s true, I’m in the middle of changes again, with more to come.  Here's some entertainment on the theme of changes while you are perusing the rest of my post.
This past week I’ve been incredibly sick.  It started last Saturday, January 15, after a day downtown.  I came home with a bit of a headache around 6:00 p.m. and by 8:00 I was feverish, sweating, shaking and freezing cold.  The fever stuck around for quite a few days and on Wednesday I finally went to the doctor who told me that it was caused by an intestinal infection.  Funny because throughout this whole week my stomach is actually the only thing that’s been feeling ok.  The doctor put me on antibiotics (again) and yesterday and today I've finally started to feel better but it is slow going.  I had to miss some days of language class which is very frustrating but I on the up side I do think I’m on the mend.
Because of a scheduling conflict at the school I had to switch teachers on Friday so that’s another adjustment.  I have also switched home stays and have been staying at the guest house for a few days while that sorts itself out.  All this while bearing in mind that I’m only here until the beginning of March, at which time there will be many more changes. 
As I understand the plan, I’ll start off my time in El Salvador by spending a week in orientation with ANADES at their main centre in Mejicanos (San Salvador).  It will be the same place I spent my first week in San Salvador in November (wow that feels like a long time ago already!).  That will be followed by a further week of orientation around San Julian which is the community I’ll be based out of.  During that week I’ll be staying at the coffee plantation that ANADES runs, and I’m guessing that some time after that is when I’ll be looking for a room of my own to (finally?) settle into for the next three years.  Or at least I can always hope!
I don’t have any pics of San Julian or the finca (coffee plantation) because I forgot my camera when I was there, so all I can offer is a description of the place.  San Julian itself strikes me as a beautiful, quiet, colonial mountain village.  There is a well-taken care of central square in front of a pretty white church.  The rest of the town also seems to have some cool community arts kinds of projects which I think could be fun to partner with.  When I was traveling around my first week with ANADES staff we arrived at San Julian one day and as we were driving into the market square I thought, "If I could choose to live anywhere it would look like this".  I'm not even making that up.  Then a few days later someone mentioned to me that most likely I'd be based out of San Julian.  I've been taking that as a good omen.
The finca is a ten or fifteen minute drive up the mountain on very rough roads.  Once you get up there you've got a view of paradise.  The finca sits on a mountain side so there are views of tropical mountains and valleys as far as you can see.  There is already a restaurant and some guest houses and ANADES I think may be investing in a bit more eco-tourism in this spot which is good for anyone thinking about coming to visit me.
So that's where things are at so far.  It's hard not to look ahead to March and instead to try to focus on moving to another family tomorrow and hopefully being able to learn lots from them about the language and culture here.  I'm nervous for tomorrow because there are so many things I don't understand which can make things very awkward!  But it's all a learning experience and I know more than I did two months ago. 
So here's to tomorrow, and to the many changes ahead!  Wish me luck :-)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Recapping 2010, looking forward to 2011

I haven’t written much lately because I don’t feel like I have a whole lot to say but I will try to give some sort of an update anyway.

So to recap 2010…
  • I finished my master’s,
  • quit my job,
  • left my family,
  • gave away my dog,
  • sold almost everything I own including my jeep,
  • rented out my place (is this starting to sound like a country song?)
…all for the adventure of a lifetime to rough it in central America.  And you know what, I’m not one bit sorry.

Most likely I’m still in the upward swing/honeymoon phase of culture shock (been there before) so cheers to psychological defense mechanisms.  But that’s not to say there haven’t been difficulties, especially wanting to be with family over the holidays, and spending the last 6 weeks talking like a 3 year old and often feeling like one.  Despite this, I am still excited to continue learning Spanish and am very excited for the time when I’ll be in El Salvador working with local communities there.  I’ve dreamed about doing international aid work for years and so this is a dream come true.

As for hopes for the future, I would really like to make some local friends, and I’ll be here for 2 more months so I think that should be possible, I’m just finding it hard to meet local people because there are so many security issues I always have to be aware of and they really limit me sometimes.  I want to build up enough tolerance to local food so I don’t have to keep taking antibiotics.  I want to work like crazy at Spanish so that I can have the advanced level completed by the time I go to El Salvador.  By the time I leave I want to watch a movie in Spanish at the theatre without subtitles and be able to pretty well understand what’s going on.  I want to have my reading comprehension high enough that I can read something by Carlos Zafon (one of my favourite Spanish authors) and not have to pull out my dictionary at every other word.  I’d also love it if someone from home were able to visit by Christmas time next year, so I’ll wait and see about that.