Microcredit in El Salvador

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Tortita

Dirtiness embodied in a torta (sandwich) with lettuce, cucumber, onions, jalapeños, tomatoes, ketchup, mayo, ham, ground beef, and pickled carrots.

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La Nicaragua

Here´s another video from a friend with a pretty good representation of what Nicaragua really looks and feels like (and a dirty cameo at the 2:35)

How Extreme Was Your Lunch

Día 60, 10/1/2010

Always exciting to not understand the words for what you´re eating, and then after lunch go out to the farm to meet the meal.

Armadillo - Cuzuko

Iguana-ish - Gorrobo

Cheese and Jalapeños - Queso Fresco con Pimienta

¿Wait what is this? Don´t worry, just eat it - Armadillo


A little more dillo

The best part of this next picture is that there was this sketchy barrel nearby, that the chef kept looking in. One time she grabbed something out of it, and then we could only see her upper half with a giant knife, banging it down like a horror movie. The joke of lunch was that whoever forgot the words first to the loud ranchera music had to jump in the barrel afterwards.

 

Gorrobo lair - wow

Fine Dining Establishment

Hurricane!

Día 57, 9/27/2010

Holey moley there´s a hurricane. Working on some media for this near constant total dumpage.

Risking our Lives

Some media from Nicaragua is trickling out, but we´ve been super busy around here and most of the exciting parts require further editing before they make it into the blogosphere. Here´s some evidence of one of the many times we risked our lives –

In Nicaragua, there´s a joke, they say that when somebody goes to the barber, it´s a lot better if he`s a friend than an enemy

Girl Effect

Día 53, 9/23/2010

I am back from Nicaragua and saw and did too many things to ever write about (maybe someday). The first half of this NYTimes article describes 75% of the trip. It´s amazing how different countries in Central America are despite being so close together, relative to distances in the United States. We took a lot of boats, met a lot of people, did the hardest volcano climb I will ever do for the rest of my life, swam in a crater, mastered the “chill on the curb for a long long time people watching” activity so common down here, surfed 8 ft waves in a strong gnarly rip, stayed up until the sun rose more than twice, fried a lot of fish, and made american-style guacamole. We also saw a lot of thought-provoking things, and heard a lot of inspiring stories.

Nike produced what I thought was a very good and eventually very popular video called The Girl Effect a few years ago. I have had a couple experiences recently that really pounded this idea home. They released a new one last week – I think both are powerful and pertinent.

The Girl Effect

Older Version

The Strike and the Vacation

Día 40, 9/10/2010

We´ve had a really busy end of the week. A lot is going on, including a few new programs, and today an Italian and Nicaraguan guy showed up to start a social impact audit for MicrofinanceRating. We´ve also had on and off power, some intense rainstorms, and gangs threatening to attack buses make things interesting.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-11255138

The strike has actually been a really big deal, as many people depend on buses and pica´s (pick-ups) to get to work. I spent a lot of time driving to meetings the last few days, and it was incredible to see so many people walking or crowding way too many bodies into every last taxi or truck offering a ride.

Due to the gang threats, there´s a ton of policemen and army personel on every corner within Gotera, and roadblocks every few miles. At times over the last few days, El Salvador has felt like a police state. At the same time, I´m pretty far away from the action in the mountains of Morazán, and all of the extra security makes me feel secure.

Tomorrow morning, I´m taking a 10-hr bus to Nicaragua to meet up with other Kiva Fellows working in Central America and share stories. We´re all more or less half way done with our fellowships, and it will be fun to take a break. The timing of the trip is probably precipitous, and I´m very interested to see what El Salvador and Gotera feel like when we get back.

Dinner at the Beach

Día 39, 9/9/2010

Last week we went to some meetings by the beach, in the Bahía de Jiquilísco.

Afterwards, we had some mussels. I was understandably a little nervous – “don´t worry! if they move when you squeeze the lime, they are still fresh!”

I like mussels and clams, and even normal oysters, but these were huge, chewy, and oily. After getting a few down, I thought I had survived, until dessert arrived. Everyone insisted I take this photo with the beers to show the “national food and drink of El Salvador.”

PROESA and Mozote

Día 35, 9/5/2010

On Sunday, I woke up at 4:30AM to spend the day working with Erick for PROESA, a Salvadoran development fund. PROESA sponsors Salvadorans living in remote and hard to reach areas with training, supplies, and transportation, helping them start and run agricultural and tourism-based businesses.

We spent the morning with a woman and her two daughters, bringing them to a local fería and helping them sell home made candies and snacks. I never realized how much work it is for the many vendors who sell products at street fairs, from getting their stuff to the fair to spending the entire day selling what they have.

Building damaged from the war with guerilla inscriptions

To pick the family up in the morning, we drove almost an hour over a terrible dirt road to the town of Mozote. As we drove back, they casually mentioned that Mozote was a three hour walk from their house, and would we mind taking them a little bit farther? Another hour and a half later, the road became impassable, and we dropped them off to walk the final thirty minutes home. It´s incredible how isolated some of the people I´ve met here are, and how matter-of-factly they accept a three hour walk in the morning and in the evening to sell their goods.

VIDEO COMING

On our way out, we spent a little bit more time in Mozote, a tow famous for being the site of a terrible massacre during the war. I talked about it a little bit here a while ago.


Montañas de Morazán

Then I spent the weekend with a Salvadoran friend, Erick. He was a great guide and I explored more of Morazán (the county where I live) than I had ever seen.

We went hiking through some incredibly beautiful mountains


hung out at the river,


and had a few great meals at his house. Erick´s dad is a really well-known carpenter, and has a giant workshop in the backyard.