Saturday, July 9, 2005

El Salvador. Entry Six.

The night before last, in the company of fireflies, I ran around the block hand in hand with the kindergartners--
All of us children enchanted by the night. 

Down the dirt path our feet beat in pace with our hearts. 
The kids running from the Only-Comes-At-Night witch and me following their laughter, lit with the quick blinks of light, darting and fading like falling stars. 

But, as is usual with nights here, the rain came and ushered everyone back inside.
I had a lot of trouble sleeping.

I went to bed around eight, and as I laid staring at the tin roof I thought of the title, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. 
I wondered, why was the roof hot? 
Then I remembered how much lightning there is here and thought,
"Maybe that´s why the roof was hot! Maybe it was on fire!"

Then I heard thunder. 

This is what my mind likes to stray to as I´m trying to fall asleep. 
Earthquakes, Sunamni´s, and pretty much everything that could go wrong. 

With the pounding of the rain outside I quickly decided to turn my thoughts to other things, so naturally the next best thing was to try to plan the remaining years of my life. 

This proved stressful when I found myself awake until at 11:43--the last time I glanced at my watch. 

Here it is a ridiculous thing to not get to bed until so late. I am routinely woken by the roosters between four and five AM, and if they don’t get me the first time around the cows serve as my snooze alarm. 
The day starts at dawn for the people of Cuidad Romero. The women go to the milpa to stock up on their corn that they labor the day away making into tortillas, atol, masa, pupusas, etc. The men start herding the animals and head for the harvesting fields. The children start on household chores.
I remember telling my host sister Diana that in college I don’t usually sleep until two or three in the morning. She laughed the sort of laugh you force around crazy people so they’ll think you’re on their side and not try to hurt you.
None of the adults here I know are employed, yet they work through out the day: The women who ride the bus to sell pupusas and horchata hoping that, between here and the mile away stop from which they’ll have to walk back, they can make enough money to feed their six children.

The children that get up two hours before school begins at seven thirty (if they’re lucky enough to get to go to school) so they can go to the milpa and stock up on corn for the masa their mother’s and sisters will sweat away the day turning into bread, tortillas, pupusas, atol, cookies, etc. 
The men who can spend full weekend days cutting down, and then chopping up a Palo de Coco so that they can have wood for the next two month’s worth of cooking.

In talking to many of the parents in Cuidad Romero it’s clear, though they would never say it because they have a Salvadorian pride and resiliency, that many feel inadequate. A surprising amount of people cannot find work, either due to lack of it in a location that is realistic for them to reach, or their political affiliations.
There are a lot of people my age on my radio team who hate the United States for what it has done to their country, but still have it as their life’s goal to cross our border and achieve The American Dream.

So many people here don´t really understand what life is like for immigrants over there. They have family in the U.S, maybe a child, cousin, uncle or brother. They see pictures of gaudy television sets and clean carpets and think this life is everyone’s reality. It´s everyone´s entitlement. But,  the family’s in the U.S are responsible for this false hope too. They aren’t sending the letters about the stress of finding the three jobs they’re working, or the difficulty of not knowing the language.
July 20th, 2005
I’ve only got a little bit of time left here, so this will probably be my last letter to you.
The absolute best times I have had in El Salvador--my favorite days--I wont tell about here. 
I don´t know how. 
If you and I should happen to talk one day, ask me about them I will tell you face to face, but some things here, like experiences, don’t have translation. 
Just the sort of way I cannot write the relationships I have built with people here, because they are too complex and beautiful to risk being ineloquent in description.

No comments:

Post a Comment