Published: June 24th 2010June 19th 2010
Con los ninos
Teaching the kids
Hola again! Thanks everyone for your comments and messages!
This entry is from El Salvador... But before we get into that, a bit more on our last days in Monterrico, Guatemala. Tessa, Keith and I volunteered to do some teaching at one of the local schools, which was a bit daunting when our Spanish is so halting. It would have been even more daunting if we had realised in advance how little English the children knew!
The school is a couple of kilometres out of Monterrico, so I got to ride in front of Tessa on a trusty Proyecto Linguistico Monterrico bike again. The school is called Escuela La Curvina and is for kids aged 6 to 12. They are busy catching up on class work after missing some school with the storm (la tormenta) a few weeks ago, so our afternoon session with them was an optional one. We had about 25 kids turn up for the two afternoons, and they were great and full of enthusiasm so we had lots of fun together.
Tessa and Keith made up a story about me and then we took the kids through that in English and Spanish. It included
Chilling out by the sea
Beer and news in spanish
lots of my new animal friends from around here. They were a bit shy when it came to pronouncing the strange English words, like BIRTHDAY, and we had lots of laughs. I think they liked me much more than the two not quite lily white humans I turned up with!
While we were at the school we also had the company of our Japanese friend, Yuji, who is doing voluntary work at 5 schools in the area. The kids know him really well and his Spanish is much better than ours. So he got to learn some English too. We translated the BINGO song (there was a farmer...) into Spanish and taught them to sing it in Spanish and English and that was a bit of a hit. We even did a few whistling versions! They were great and we had lots of fun.
Then there was just enough time left in Monterrico for a bit more time hanging out by the beach (with a Gallo beer of course) and some more tortillas, frijoles and queso (beans and cheese).
On Friday we were up early for our departure as the rain cleared from the thunderstorm overnight. We
Packed in on the bus
And this was quite an empty one
knew we had a long way to travel to get across the border into El Salvador and down to the coast and still weren´t quite sure how it would work out. We´d heard that it wasn´t possible to cross at the closest border crossing because a bridge had been damaged in la tormenta, so the plan was to head for the next border crossing, much further to the North.
The first leg was by boat (lancha) leaving at 7am, across the canal to La Avellana, then onto a public bus from there. Well it was like one of those Guiness Book of World Record challenges... how many people (and frogs) can you squeeze onto one bus! We were super squashed in like sardines, and then you wouldn´t believe it, we kept stopping to pick up more people! There were already people all squashed all up against each other and they kept squishing up more until there was not even enough room to lift a camera, let alone swing a frog!
Anyway we all managed to unsquish and spill out of the bus when we got to the town of Taxisco, where we planned to catch another bus further
Who needs buses
Grabbing a ride on a pickup
North. That plan changed suddenly, though when we spoke to a local guy who said the Southern border crossing was open, it was just a matter of getting across the river where the bridge was broken. So he gave us a ride on the back of his pickup to the bridge, then we lugged our stuff down a muddy track to the river with lots of others.
That was where it became very obvious that the bridge was not just broken, a huge span of it had been totally washed away and more had been mangled by the flood waters. It´ll take a long time to rebuild that. Anyway, plenty of industrious souls are providing boat services across the river and we joined the throngs making use of that.
After the baot ride it was another muddy scrabble up the other side with plenty of local hands reaching out to help us up. Tessa had discovered that jandals are the worst form of footwear for that sticky mud, especially with a pack on her back! The people were very helpful, though, and luckily she didn´t end up face down in it.
Then it was another sweaty public
The bridge is out
Lanchas across the river instead
bus on to the border town of La Hachadura. And then yet another mode of transport... a rickety tuk tuk to get us and our bags to the little concrete hut with an insignificant IMMIGRATION sign above it to get our passports stamped. Then on in the tuk tuk past the queues of waiting trucks to the point with the armed guard, where we were on foot the last few hundred metres across the border bridge. On the other side it was all very low key. Another armed guard and an official at a table and a few passport checks and then the three of us were let loose on El Salvador!
We located the next bus stop and grabbed one headed for Sonsanate... that one didn´t get anywhere near as full as some of the others we´ve been on, so we managed to keep our seats and see some sights. Well we had made ourselves very comfortable when the bus guy (the one leaping around and whistling and taking the money) suddenly told us we were getting off, that this was the best polace to get our next bus. Suddenly we were on the side of the road
To the border
Stuffed in a tuktuk
at some intersection in the middle of nowhere!
Luckily there was a woman selling some fruit nearby so we got some mango with chilli salsa to keep us going in the heat. Well the first bus that stopped was going to somewhere we´d never heard of and there was no way we would have fitted on that anyway... there were limbs and heads sticking out the windows it was so packed! I would have been up in the roof rack again.
After a while another bus came racing around the corner and ground to a halt in front of us. It was heading for the same place but we leapt on anyway. And it was a leap, packs and me thrown on through the rear door and Tessa just grabbing the handle and jumping on before the guy whistled and we were off! And then guess what... there were the cutest baby chickens on the bus just behind us. They do call them chicken buses! They were all chirping like mad in their little boxes!
We had to leap off that bus again suddenly at a stop on the coast with a few food stalls when the
Playa El Zonte
Tessa and Keith, the sun and the waves
bus turned inland, and then another wait for another bus to take us further along the coast. Well to cut a long story only slightly shorter, we finally reached our destination of Playa El Zonte at about 3pm... just enough time for us to put our stuff down at our accommodation, check out the beach and of course for Keith to head out into the great surf!
What a day full of colour and landscapes and excitement and lovely helpful people!