Published: November 19th 2008November 10th 2008
I am acutely aware that I haven´t updated my blog for about 2 months now! I apologize for the lack of updates, but be assured that I haven´t been a "huevona" (lazy) during this time. Quite the opposite--we´ve been working pretty much non-stop on several projects and are moving forward at a pace that I can´t believe!
(Note: There are a lot of pictures posted on this blog from the past 4 months, so make sure to look through all of them if you´re interested (go to where it says "next page" to see the other 60 something pictures)! I´m not going to promise that they´re in order though...)
First of all, we had the fantastic opportunity to participate as the group of "animadores comunitarios" (the youth that are participating in the workshops as part of the developing Center for Popular Education and Performing Arts) in a parade inaugarating a month-long street art festival ARCA (Arte en la Calle) with the Centro Cultural de España. For an hour and a half, we danced, jumped, ran, posed, and interacted with the people in the streets of San Salvador from Parque Cuscatlán to the Plaza Civica in front of the cathedral.
It was an incredible experience for all of us, and the first time we worked on a performance with the entire group. We built up to the performance by having the workshops of constructing puppets, after that constructing masks and learning acrobatics, and then putting together the performance during the workshop on dance.
The "pasacalle" was also covered in four newspapers; the article from El Diario de Hoy can be found here
from the Prensa Gráfica can be seen on YouTube
(Hopefully, more pictures/videos to come!)
As far as the theatre group, we´re also moving forward, having performed the play "Que No Se Vuelva a Repetir" for three different events in San Salvador in the past month and a half. The main critiques that I´ve received as a director are that we need to dedicate more time to developing acting techniques, especially in body and vocal expression, to make the play even more powerful. It's a process, though, and I'm excited to deepen our work.
My dear friend Jenny (who I met randomly in Guatemala on the bus to the ArtCorps training back in January) came by and visited
for the month of October, doing clown workshops with the group of youth from Ciudad Romero and Nueva Esperanza, introducing new techniques and inspiring us to find new creativity and observation in our work on the play about La Quesera. We also did an "animación" with some people who were refuged at the flood shelter in Ciudad Romero. A group of about 15 youth came and participated/helped facilitate/did some acrobatics to entertain! Mostly children participated, but there were a few adults, and even an "anciana" as well. Although it was only about an hour, people were thankful for the opportunity to "forget" about the floods in their communities and the effects on their homes, and to get a chance to do something different to break up the monotony of the days spent at the shelter.
Jenny was also a great roommate to have--to understand that it is not an overstatement when I say that there are literally 50 chickens at my house, that I walk on a dirt (mud, when the humidity strikes back) floor, and share my room with chickens, spiders (tarantulas!), frogs, and mold that covers just about everything in a matter of days. She also now
understands that it is not an overstatement when I talk about how incredible the youth and the people are in the communities of Bajo Lempa, and what an honor it is to be working with them.
On top of this, I've been helping out with the youth workshops with FUNDAHMER (the organization that the other lovely ArtCorps artist in El Salvador Laura works with), making puppets and putting together a play with them! It´s always wonderful to spend time with Laura as well!
I´ve also been dedicating a majority of my time and energy to a project focusing on the cultural heritage of El Salvador, as defined by the people in the communities of the municipality of Jiquilisco. After a four-month long process of community assemblies, meetings, surveys in the field (done by youth and community members), and pulling out our hair sometimes, finally, the catalogue detailing all of the information received is ready for the final touches, and will be published! The entire team of us has been up until the wee small hours of the morning furiously typing up all of the different surveys completed from the different communities, and falling more and more in love
Tania and I
(This was the day I fell on my face and bruised my eye--it´s really not more exciting than that.)
with the Salvadoran culture with every entry. During the past two weeks, Tania and I have worked non-stop on putting everything together, sometimes staying up all night without sleeping, going crazy and cracking stupid jokes about La Ciguanaba or cadejos. All I can say now is, gracias a Dios that it´s almost over, and that we´ll have an amazing result to show for it!!!!
Tania (the Salvadoran artist/popular educator that I´ve been collaborating with) and I have also become closer throughout the process of facilitating workshops together, working throughout the night until we hear birds singing together, and planning/sharing dreams for the youth program we´re going to establish next year. Although she can be incredibly stubborn and strong-willed, these are traits that I also admire about her, as she defends her ideas and beliefs in a way that few people do. Building a mutual trust with her has been an arduous and rewarding process.
Beside all of this work (even though my work and personal life have become inextricably intertwined, in fulfilling and sometimes maddening ways), I have been going through some serious self development in these past few months. It was fairly easy for me to acknowledge
last year that this experience would bring about changes in myself, but it's a lot harder to actually work through them and realize what it means to acknowledge my strengths and weaknesses, seeking an equilibrium. Things that have helped me and also challenged me have been experimenting with meditation and yoga, as well as reading, journaling, and writing down my dreams first thing when I wake up in the morning (these are things I also wish I had more time to dedicate to!!).
Also, something simple, like walking to or from work in the morning or afternoon, is beautiful, appreciating the small patch of green where birds sing and cows roam next to the cemetery, hitching a ride to work (I still haven't gotten a ride on one of the bull-driven carts or a horse, but I'm hoping to one day!), or stopping to talk and visit with someone, as I feel more and more a part of the community and miss it when I spend time in the city. In San Salvador, there are various cultural and "intellectual" events (along with an ability I'm cultivating to weed out the bullshit in myself, I'm learning to sense it in
others as well!), making connections with more artists and city folks, and a fairly lively bar, Cafe "La T" where we´ve gone to dance salsa a few times.
Although I enjoy the life in the city (it has more semblance to the life I'm used to in the United States), I'm discovering a love for the "campo," for a more authentic, connected lifestyle, where the dirt roads and spaces are wide, people wave and acknowledge each other, and the nights are quiet (except for the high-pitched whine of mosquitoes, the powerful buzz of cicadas, and the cheezy music of telenovelas that my sisters here watch--oh, fear not, i know most of the theme songs by heart now). Of course, this life has its drawbacks, like gossip, living with animals and closer to the "elements" is sometimes not as pleasant as it might seem (I think it just takes some getting used to--cockroaches in the latrine can be a little too friendly...), and although the poverty in the communities is different from the city, it is still something that should not be idealized (re: "the simple life"). I guess what I mean is that I may be a "country girl"
Circle of trust
During an "animación," a series of games, with youth and people housed in the flood shelter during a flood in early October
Thanks to everyone who has sent me their love and support during this time--as always, I truly appreciate it. As some of you may know, I will be working with La Coordinadora and ArtCorps next year as well, to continue the efforts we have been working on this year. Which means that emails, phone calls, care packages (thanks Mom and Dad!), even visits are WELCOMED! The funny thing is, El Salvador keeps feeling more and more like home, but chocolate and books are still my favorite luxuries that are still within reach here (especially when the chocolate is made directly from cacao and sugar, and books are shared among a network of volunteers with good taste!).
...but man, it sure feels good to say "I'm American (estadounidense!)" with BARACK OBAMA AS PRESIDENT!!! With so much hope leaning on his shoulders, let's see what he does...
That's it for now--I promise another update before the end of this year...
"Yo aprendí a trabajar desde pelado,
Por eso es que estoy acostumbrado
Siempre a vivir con plata.
Y con toda la plata que he ganado,
Cuantos problemas no he solucionado,
Pero nunca me alcanza.
Porque en la vida hay cosas del alma,
Que valen mucho mas que el dinero.
Porque en la vida hay cosas del alma,
Que valen mucho mas que el dinero!"
....I love ballenato....
There are more photos below