Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Life, Liberty and the Happiness of Pursuit

I had a prof at my university that would change our country's slogan to, "Life, Liberty and the Happiness of Pursuit."

I've been thinking about this lately because I went to a home visit last week (the one I mentioned in San Miguel), and the family lived in a hut.  It was literally made of sticks and straw.  Like something you'd see people build on Survivor.  The house was a good size, probably 40x40 ft and there was a wall to separate the beds and give a little privacy to change.  There were 4 plastic chairs (the kind we typically see outdoors that can be stacked)  All were broken.  And they were repaired in impressive ways.  One, the plastic was ripping at the top, and they laced a shoelace through it (creating holes at the top where there weren't natural holes in the chair design) to hold it together.  The remaining three had a couple legs missing from each, and had tree branches carved and designed to work as the legs.  It was impressive carpentry without many tools.  There was no bathroom or shower, but there was running water outside to fill the pila (kind of a concrete cistern used to hold water to be used throughout the day, and usually has one side where people wash clothes by hand).  It was on a pretty piece of land with beautiful trees and a great view of the volcano nearby (which erupted again last week).  There was garbage scattered throughout the area surrounding where they spent most of hte time near the house.

And I found myself thinking about if I lived there, what kind of improvements would I make to the home?  Some ideas came easy, others, I wasn't sure about the next steps I would take if I lived there with limited resources.  I found out that the man's grandparents had lived there and had built a concrete cistern and was surprised that with the decades it had been made, little had been done.

I tried to determine how much of my ideas and thoughts were from my spoiled American mindset.  And I ultimately found myself stuck on the idea of contentment vs laziness.    Because, if this family has enough to survive in a healthy manner, why shouldn't they be content?  But if they have the talent to improve their situation, are they just being lazy by continuing in their meager home?

And I don't know.  I'm still pondering it.  But whether or not this particular family is lazy or content, I know that contentment is something my own culture does not make room for.  This brings me back to the Life, Liberty and the Happiness of Pursuit.  Because we are taught to strive for more.  Never do we have enough.  And while I never want to be lazy, I do want to be able to enjoy what I have and be content.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

finally an update!

I've been thinking I'd post when I had my pictures from a couple trips I went on, but apparently that's not happening, so I might as well post without them.  Yes, I realize it's a brilliant idea to disappoint my multitude of readers at the start :)

 But at least I've lowered your expectations for the rest of this post and so now I'll sound much more impressive!

Lets see, I've been pretty busy.  A couple of weeks ago I forgot my allergy meds (because the air pollution here is bad) for a couple of days. It just so happened that those days were incredibly windy and I spent several hours in a windy area with tons of dirt flying about.  So began my congestion.  Then I went on several road trips.  So, after two weeks, im just starting to feel back to normal.  The last week its been clearing out and has effected my throat and voice.  This last week I've discovered that it really is not fun to teach when you don't have a voice.  Don't think it's helped with my healing process either.  and getting less sleep because i'm congested has made my spanish worse.

So, besides being patheticly sick the last couple of weeks, I've been up to some fun stuff.  I've gotten to meet some of the families of the kids at the orphanage.  They have a family day every couple of weeks and it's interesting to participate and see the interactions.  (I guess it would be good to clarify that most of the children in the orphanage have families they see regularly.  Some of the kids were abandoned, but most were removed from their homes because of abuse.)

Last week I went to San Miguel to visit a family.  San Miguel's city slogan says, "When the Devil gets too hot in San Miguel, he goes back to hell."  I think it was only in the 90s when we went.  I've been once before years ago and it was 116 and over 90% humidity.  Not my favorite weather.  Also, it was interesting because we went near the volcano which erupted a month ago.  This is what I was hoping to get pictures of for you, but i took the pics with the camera from the orphanage and havent gotten copies yet.
So. . .the family visit -  A very interesting event because we saw the mom of some of the children. She had disappeared after her kids were removed from her home and this is the first anyone in her family had heard from her in 10 years. It was very interesting to be apart of the reunion, both very exciting and very hard.

Therapy at the women's shelter has been great.  I've built enough trust that the women are willing to begin working on their trauma, and it's so rewarding to watch them heal each week.

And I took a vacation this weekend!  I went to Guatemala.  I was invited because my Salvadoranean family that lives in Guatemala City was going to Panajachel, which happens to be one of my favorite towns.  It's a little hippie town that sits on the edge of a lake surrounded by volcanoes and mountains.  People from all over the world visit and live there and it's just a nice relaxing place to be.  I have a hard time not buying everything while I'm there.  And I normally hate shopping.  If you've ever seen me wearing clothes from Guatemala - they're from Panajachel. Here's a picture of the waterfall when we were leaving:
So, that's about it.  Still staying busy teaching english and therapy at the orphanage and women's shelter.  I've been working on fun stuff for my Visa to stay here for the year and trying to get together everything to do my taxes.  You know - the fun stuff.  It's making me extra excited for when I have to leave the country in a couple weeks to renew my visa.  I'm gonna spend a week in Costa Rica.  I just can't decide if I want to go to the town with the beautiful beach, or the one with the lake and volcano and all the hot springs.

 hmmm. . .life is always full of such difficult choices.