Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Friday Morning

Ate breakfast at Haide’s which included beans (every meal included beans). Went to the free clinic in Berlin. The three doctors who where with us on the trip saw 300 people. We found the part of the clinic which was broken down and used for storage. The roof leaked. Used to be a surgery and birthing area. While the doctors were doing their thing we hauled all the stuff out of the old storage area and into a new storage area. So we could start work next Monday on construction. We also tore the old nasty ceiling out of this area. A very dirty job. I also helped some in the pharmacy. A health queen was crowned and we had a ceremony where we gave the head El Salvadoran doctor some money. I talked to the intern there and he said the clinic was crowded like this every day. The next week when I was at the clinic I discovered this was not the case. There was 50 patients tops at the clinic on the other days. This illustrates the challenge of a place like El Salvador. There were several times when we got different or contradictory stories. I believe this is caused by language and culture differences as well as in some cases out and out deceit. But I believe mostly the former. I walked back with some of the high school kids at the end of the day through town to our living and eating quarters. (The women all slept at the same house where we all ate.) When in town we walked everywhere as do 90% of the people which was great because we got a feel for the town and people. We literally rubbed shoulders. Walking back I noticed the El Salvadoran men, lots of them, ogling unashamedly the high school girl with us. I’ve never seen such overt and unashamed voyeurism. Also, a truck full of boys drove by and we heard “blah blah blah Norte Americanos blah blah.” Definitely derogatory but I think good natured. For the second time in my life I thought. This is what it must be like to be a minority. Almost all the men carry a machete. It’s their main work tool. They even wear them to church. After a bucket shower we ate and some of us went into town. It was holy week and the celebration of San Jose the towns patron saint. So they were having a huge blow out party for several nights. It was like Mardi Gras with out the heavy duty graft. Mostly family fun. Lots of tiendas (stands selling stuff) brass bands driving in the back of trucks, live bands, what I called the latin spice girls (more ogaling), they crowned a queen, carnival rides. It was wall to wall people. You were often literally shoulder to shoulder. They have this game of chance which I played where you role this marble and if you have the marble you want it to land on rojo (red) and if you are betting against him you want white (blanco). The El Salvadoran guys really got a kick out of the fact that a gringo was playing. For next few nights every time I walked past they would shout out to me. Very friendly and positive. It was a good connection. Went to sleep. More dogs and cats fighting and roosters crowing. Earplugs. Good.

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