Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ladies Day in Guazapa

In trying to get things 'caught up' on my last post I had to skip over some things from the last few weeks that I think some of you will be interested to read. The Saturday after we returned from San Salvador I joined two ladies from here and three ladies from San Ignacio to go to a ladies day in Guazapa (whaa-zahp-uh) which is south of here. We got on the public bus just after 7 a.m. to go there. It cost $1.50 for each of us and I enjoyed the experience. Because I get carsick I told them I wanted to sit near the front and when we got on, the very front seat was open so Deyci and I took it. At various stops along the way, vendors get on and walk through selling drinks, snacks, bread, even freshly made french fries with ketchup and mayonnaise. I had taken water with me but was able to buy some delicious burnt sugar peanuts from one of the boys who came on selling things.
The driver often kept the door open for ventilation so I was able to get pictures like this as we drove along. That is sugar cane but I'd never seen it with the "blooms" on top--Deyci told me that means it's ready to cut. (the blooms are hard to see out the door but look just to the sides of the door) I didn't have any carsickness issues on this ride--partly because I wore my bracelet to prevent it and partly because the bus makes so many stops that it can't take curves nearly as fast as the other vehicles sometimes can and do.

None of us knew exactly where the church building was in Guazapa but it's not very large so we got off kind of in the middle of the city and began walking and asking people. The ladies are always very protective of me so I never felt unsafe. They always put themselves between me and any strangers we meet on the street and even held my hand as we crossed the highway to make sure I stayed with them. We managed to find the church building just a few blocks down the street and arrived just as it was beginning.
The ladies at Guazapa were very impressive--they had a number of them to took turns leading singing and prayers and all seemed very confident as they did so. The speaker was from the San Salvador area and we enjoyed her class very much. After the first class was a time for snacks and they served us a traditional French bread roll with refried beans and cheese inside. I have come to love them very much and they are quite filling. They also served coffee with them and it was soon time for the second class to start. It was also a very good class and was followed by lunch. For lunchtime, they gave instructions for us to remain seated and they would bring the plates to us. It consisted of chicken, rice, salad, and a tortilla and was good but my favorite part was the beverage. They served the drinks in bags--a typical practice here--but mine was an orange drink that was one I'd never had before. It was so refreshing that I could have easily had two or three of them. (Guazapa is noticeably hotter and more humid than La Palma because La Palma is in the mountains.) The drinks are all poured into small plastic baggies and tied up kind of reminiscent of a water balloon. To drink them, you bite a very small hole in one of the corners and suck the drink out of it. This sounds (and seems at first) a bit precarious, like you're going to spill it everywhere but you eventually develop a feel for it and are able to drink part of it and hold the bag containing the rest of the drink without spilling it. It's quite a cost-effective way to serve drinks, far cheaper than buying disposable cups.

After the meal was over
they had one of the ladies from Guazapa get up and ask questions of all the ladies in the audience. We each had to answer a question and in response, we all got a pretty coffee mug as a prize. We had planned on coming home on the bus but Marvin was there with his van so we all piled in and he took us home. We enjoyed singing together in the van for most of the trip home. I snapped this picture of Estella as we were singing. It is now the dry season here and we have only had a small amount of rain in the last two months. The amazing thing is, there are trees and flowers blooming now that it is dry season that didn't bloom during the time when there was ample rain. I am enjoying seeing the brilliant colors that continue to surprise me. This whole hillside was in bloom.

During our lunch, the ladies and I talked a lot about our upcoming ladies day. They have lots of ideas now on what to expect and how to improve our previous plans. A group of ladies was here today at the building cleaning and making preparations and more will be here tomorrow. One of the projects we were supposed to work on today was assembling keychains that will be presents for all the ladies who attend. Unfortunately (but not surprisingly) there was a lack of communication and they were not ready today but should be ready tomorrow morning. We have much work to do in the coming days and the ladies here are ready and excited about it.


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