Wednesday, January 27, 2010


The El Salvador team is scheduled to return tonight (January 27, 2010) at 11:33 PM. The WTIS will notify parents of their safe return via email.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Technical Difficulties

The WTIS Team in El Salvador has reported to the Hartman House that they are having technical difficulties and do not currently have internet access.  It is possible that they will not have access again during the trip, so do not expect to see any additional posts from them to the blog.  However, I will pass on any updates I receive from the team via the blog.
Thank you,
Jessica Weasner
Assistant Director of the Hartman House

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

First Day of Classes

Today marked the first day of our classes. Team members taught and assisted with a basic computer class, an English class, and a dental hygiene seminar in either morning or afternoon sessions. Thanks to some prior planning, all classes were reportedly resounding successes.

During the sessions in which we did not have classes, most of us helped to make fertilizer. The process is demanding work, involving mixing several eye-irritating/nose-offending substances via shovel and wheelbarrow. It was satisfying to have helped the community (that giant pile wouldn´t be there without us! At least, not for another few days) in a concrete way. It was even more satifying to take bucket showers after, as I think most of us did.

Dinner was particularly delicious today. We had a fruit salad, dried banana chips, and some cheese-filled corn half-tortillas with passionfruit juice accompanied by a striking sunset. Unfortunately, just eating for fun isn´t an option. You have to get full sometime, otherwise I would never have left the table.

Stay tuned from further news (and hopefully some deep thoughts - we´ve started reflecting every day) from Las Marias.

Regards to all,

Sam Holley-Kline

Monday, January 18, 2010

Hello friends, family, and stalkers!

Everybody hear is alive and well! We felt a little tremor from the earthquake but it was nothing serious. To Elliots mom, he says that you care to much and that he is alive and kickin'.

We spent the weekend in Suchitoto, a small tourist town 3 hours from Las Marias. We were all extremely excited to have running water and a flushing toilet! The downside was that the place was pretty disgusting LOL The toilet in my room was practically in the shower! We all desided that we prefer our bucket baths much better. :)

That Friday we had dinner at an Argentinean resturant were we had wine and every kind of meat you could emagine! Later that night we had a big party at our hotel. There were two of my personal favorites, a bar and band!lol We all had a really good time singing and dancing.

Saturday, we ate breakfast and piled into the back of a pickup truck to drop off computers to a small school about 45 minutes away. The residents of the community and school were very happy to see us and their awsome new computers. The community had an amazing welcoming ceremony for us. the little children sang a song, preformed a skit, and danced. It was all very cute and sweet. Im sure all of us will have pictures to show when we get back.

Later that evening we did some shopping in the the square and hung out at this really great cafe that had fabulous coffee. We also went to another much nicer hotel in the square( lol )to hear a blues band, and they were spectacular. Professor Puga joined the band in a few songs playing his harmonica. We also found another bar in town were we could all watch the Colts game! It was a good time. After the game and the blues band some went back to the hotel to sleep or just chill in the hammocks and others went to a Discotech dance party. All who went to the dance party said that they had a fabolous time.

when we returned to Las Marias Sunday evening, there was a welcome sign and baloons. The youth had organized a little welcoming party were we all interact and played really fun games.
We had a game of musical chairs and if you lost you had to sing or dance in front of everybody!
We also played a game were we had to partner up with a kid from town and play catch with a water baloon. Each time yyou threw the baloon you had to take a step back. By they ebd of the night most of us were soaking wet!

To conclude, we are all very happy to be back at Las Marias and are all alive and well.

It's been real,

Zindzi :)

P.S. Sorry for my spelling, spell check is down lol

Thursday, January 14, 2010

¡Hola from El Salvador!

I hope that everyone at home is doing well. We are all thinking of our family and friends while we are here, and can't wait to share our experiences with all of you.

Today I was awakened by my host mom, Cecelia, at the early hour of 5 am, just before the sun rose and roosters started crowing. I got ready using a flashlight and no mirror, and washed my face using a basin of water that had little goldfish swimming in it. I then took a quick bucket shower, which I initially was worried about, but have now come to love. (They are extremely refreshing and a great way to cool off!) However, the best thing about my morning was not the bucket shower, it was the hug Cecelia gave me after she walked me to breakfast this morning.

After breakfast, which consisted of amazing coffee, platanos, rice, fresh eggs (from our families' hens), and beans, about 15 of us accompanied Dr.Walt on the final medical brigade. The most interesting part of my day was definitely the car ride up the mountain to the clinic. We rode in pickup trucks up the extremely rocky mountain side, and had an off-roading experience that I will never forget. After laughing and screaming the whole way up, we finally made it to our site. Within an hour, there were already 150 people waiting to be treated by Dr. Walt. In order to decrease the wait time, we set up stations and handed out pills to treat parasites, gave recipes to cure diarrhea, and taught stretches to help alleviate back pain. All of the people at the clinic were so patient, friendly, and appreciative- this made the car ride up the mountain so worth it.

Everyone has been speaking a lot of Spanish since we arrived here in El Salvador. I find myself not only conversing with my host family in Spanish, but also communicating with my peers in Spanish, thinking in Spanish, and even dreaming in Spanish. I hope that means our Spanish is improving!

When we arrived back at the cooperative, after a long day at the clinic, many of us returned to our homes and spent time with our host family. This is always my favorite part of the day. I was a little home sick when we first arrived in San Salvador; however, having a family to spend time with every day has been great. The people here are so generous and inviting and many of us already feel like part of their family. I am continually amazed at how much the people here give of themselves and how positive their outlook is on life. I love it!

I realized today that we are about half way through our trip. The time has flown by, and I am already thinking about how hard it will be to say "bye" to my Salvadoran family. This trip has been life changing for many of us. When we go to Suchi Toto this weekend, many of us will buy presents for our friends and family; however, I think we have come to realize that the material things we bring home are nothing in comparison to the memories that will last a life time.

Thank you all for reading our blog. It is so nice to know that the people at home haven't forgotten us. :) We appreciate your thoughts and prayers!


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Trabajando en la cocina (Working in the kitchen)

Today I woke up to my alarm, the roosters, and the dogs at the crisp hour of 5 am. You may be thinking why the heck is this girl crazy enough to wake up this early, get dressed by the light of a fading flashlight, and make the hike down to the beneficio. The answer to your question is I was going to cook.
I walked into the kitchen at the beneficio to the smiling faces of Cecilia, Guadelupe, and . They had been there since 4 am. We began by cutting the peels off of the platanos (sweet bananas) and then cut them into slices before throwing them into the oil to fry for about 5 minutes. While strugling to make and form tortillas, we talked to the three women about their lives in Las Marias and their famlies. All of them emphasized that they we going to be so sad when we leave and they hope that when we come back to El Salvador in the future, we bring our children and come visit them. They want us to pass on what we have learned in the kitchen to our friends and family at home. These women are probably some of the most amazing people I've ever met. Their kindness was overwhelming and they truly care about what we have to say.
There is something extremely tranqiul about peeling potatoes to make papas fritas and talking in Spanish to the women of la cocina. I don't know that I will ever have that feeling again in the same way that I did today. I know that when I leave here I will truly miss all of the amazing people I have met. I really do hope to come back to Las Marias, but if I am not able to, I know I will bring back what I have learned to the United States, especially what I have learned from the women of the kitchen.

We miss you all!

Sarah Maher

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

15 Things Ive learned in El Salvador

1. When someone is talking to you and you arent really sure what they are saying, but you decide that nodding along and saying, si, every so often is the best thing to do, you might be telling your host family that you, too, fought in a war.

2. Cows are cars too.

3. Everything the people of las marias do while hosting us is done in the best interest of the americans. they cook the most amazing meals for us, give up their beds for us, and wash our clothes every day, just to name a few.

4. When you are attempting to cross an intersection and you make eye contact with an approaching car, that doesnt mean that they see you and will slow down.

5. The people of El Salvador are the most gracious hosts. Last night it was chilly for Salvadoran standards and Marina, my roommate, and I went to go shower (aka pourwater on ourselves from a basin ) and we walked outside to find our host mom had heated up a whole bucket of water for us to use.

6. Taking a hike is a relative term, it might mean trekking up an entire mountain at an 80 degree angle for an hour.

7. Calling someone fat, or gordita, is a term of endearment here so you shouldnt take offense to it.

8. Helping out with the Bokashi is just a fancy way of saying shoveling various types of poop into a huge pile.

9. It is best to wear closed toed shoes (see #6 and #8)

10. The war here effects everyone and everything. I have not met a single person who hasnt lost a family member or close friend to its violence. Even the beauty of the country is tainted by the atrocities of the war. While in San Salvador, we took a gorgeous, scenic hike up a mountain to find that the top was where soldiers used to dump the bodies of the disappeared.

11. Measurments here are just guestimates. If you are working in the kitchen and one of the women tell you to get them a handful of butter, they literally mean stick your fist in the butter tub and bring them a handful.

12. There is no need for alarms here. We all wake up each morning to the melody of roosters crowing, dogs barking, and sheep baaahing.

13. Do not pet the dogs.

14. Despite all of their hardship, the salvadorans are constantly smiling and giving you hugs and encouragment for the smallest of completed tasks. Today I carried a wheelbarrow with 1 bag of Bakashi up to the fertilizer sight and the man assisting us, who was carrying a wheelbarrow, two bags of Bakashi, and 2 shovels, cheered me on the whole last stretch.

15. Paint thinner is not to be used to get paint off of your hands.

16. Time here is more of a suggestion.

17. Laughter is the universal language.

18. Sometimes when speaking broken spanish, it helps to use sweeping hand gestures and sound effects. The other day I managed to describe a cricket using this tactic.

19. Desensitization is not a theory, we have all proved that. The first time we saw someone with a machine gun on the streets, we were all scared. Now, we wave.

20. My life at DePauw is one that I hope to never take for granted again. Simple conveniences such as toilet paper, clean water, and tennis shoes that I dont think twice about are cherished by the people of Las Marias. I think its safe to say that all of us here have achieved a new perspective on our lives in the U.S.

Thanks for keeping all of us, and the people of Las Marias, in your thoughts ans prayers. We all miss you and look forward to telling you, in person, about the amazing experiences weve had thus far.

Molly McGonigal