Saturday, February 27, 2010


Well.  Our Salvadoran adventure has ended prematurely and we are now thrust into a new and exciting chapter of our lives: parenthood!  Wow.  While back in the States for Christmas, we found out that Kelly is pregnant--thus making her medically unfit to continue her service as a Peace Corps Volunteer.  Bruce returned to El Salvador for another month to give closure to our service.  While we were looking forward to spending more time with friends, neighbors, students, coworkers, and other Peace Corps Volunteers, keeping in touch will have to suffice.  And someday we hope to go back and visit Chinameca, a place that will always hold a special place in our hearts.

To our family and friends in the U.S., thanks for reading the blog.  It was a pleasure sharing this experience with you.  Be sure to keep scrolling down, as this post goes back to October.  We hope to see more of y'all, now that we're back in Pennsylvania and Delaware (currently looking for jobs).  We look forward to introducing you to our little baby, set to arrive around August 9 (gender will be a surprise!).

Para los queridos Chinamequenses, gracias por todo su amistad y apoyo en nuestros proyectos en la comunidad.  Para nosotros, fue una experiencia maravillosa e inolvidable.  Siempre vamos a guardar un espacio enorme para ustedes en nuestros corazones....y siempre queremos mantener contacto.  Cuidense mucho y que Dios les bendiga.
Bruce receives a painting from the director of the Cultural Center during his last days in town.
a farewell dinner with friends
Bruce and Carlos (Choloman)
Bruce went with some friends from our pueblo to try surfing at a nearby beach.  He basically caught one wave.  He was then stung by an evil sting ray.
at a local finca (coffee farm) with our friendly neighbor
Kelly sent winter-themed stuffed animals to some of our favorite little friends.
a farewell trip to the beach with some Peace Corps friends
On Bruce's last night in town, he went to a nearby pueblo to say goodbye to a great family...and watch a toreada (bull fight).  We chose to sit on the second level because it seemed likely to collapse onto the first level.  The evening also featured fancy horse stepping.
One guy took a bull horn to the groin.
a farewell to Bruce, with gifts for Kelly and the baby

Caiman Fun

Gerardo, beer, stick
Bruce and some coworkers (Gerardo and Cesar are pictured) finally made good on the promise to hold the caiman kept at a restaurant just outside town.
Kelly likes this picture because it looks like Gerardo is doing a ceremonial caiman dance.
Bruce, Gerardo, Jorge
A longtime friend of Bruce visited for ten days.  Here, he is seen jamming with some local guitar students.  We also put on a play of Donde Viven Los Monstruos (Where the Wild Things Are).
Bruce visits the newborn niece of Choloman
a popular soda
These women make some of the best pupusas in the world!

Casa de la Cultura

Bruce plays Train Wreck (the most popular icebreaker) with a kids' English class
during one of our adult English classes
Our students wanted to celebrate the end of the year with a
Bruce hates ducks.
Kelly, during a meeting of our chess club
We worked with the director of the Cultural Center (Casa de la Cultura) to create a Kids' Library.  To promote it, we started a series of reading circles that also included arts activities.
With Maria Dolores (Cultural Center director) and her daughter Gerardina
Our reading circle kids worked to color the pages of Shel Silverstein's "The Giving Tree" (El Árbol Generoso). 
Mauricio draws Central America
We worked with high school students to paint a World Map on the wall of the Cultural Center.  Work in progress.


We had some of our dearest friends and coworkers over for a Thanksgiving (Día de Acción de Gracias)  dinner that couldn't be beat.  Turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberries, stuffing, green beans, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, apple pie, wine, etc.  We told them about the history of Thanksgiving.  Everyone at the table thanked God for their blessings.  It was awesome.  In this picture, you can see the salt, pepper, bay leaves, and rosemary used on the turkey.
apples and onions to stuff the turkey
Estefani and her first Thanksgiving dinner.  She mostly enjoyed the cranberries and bread.
Kelly with our host mother and her niece
Choloman y Tapa Dulce disfrutan la cena
A Salvadoran newspaper advertised for a restaurant in the capital, in anticipation of their "Pennsylvania Style" Thanksgiving buffet.
We hosted the November Peace Corps Soccer Game.  Every month there are games between Peace Corps Volunteers and local Salvadoran teams in a Volunteer's site.  The male Volunteers won their game!  However, as Chinameca doesn't have a ladies' soccer game, we asked a friend of ours to invite her regional team.  They were basically a pro team and won, uh, decisively.  That night we headed to nearby San Miguel for Carnaval, the biggest and craziest event in the country.
Our Lady of Guadalupe

Ecological Stoves

We organized an ecological stove project with the NGO Stoveteam International, as well as our pueblo's church and mayor's office.  The eco stove uses 70% less wood and produces 90% less smoke than an open cooking fire.  Respiratory disease is the leading cause of death among Salvadoran kids.  Deforestation is also a huge environmental concern [in fact, during this demonstration, a Stoveteam representative discussed the correlation between deforestation and landslides...unfortunately, several days later there was a terrible landslide in El Salvador that killed more than 200 people].  These stoves tackle those health and environmental issues; after an initial investment in the stove, the family can also save money on firewood.  This picture is from Stoveteam's first demonstration in our town.
Stoveteam came back to give a second demonstration.  Town residents cooked pupusas, pasteles,
plátanos, etc.  We brought in over 60 stoves with this campaign.  The mayor's office is continuing to promote the stoves and keeping a list for another order.  This makes us very happy because sustainable development is an all-too-elusive goal.
Josecito took this picture.
After the terrible landslides, the whole town rallied to provide relief for the displaced survivors.  We collected money, food, and clothes for the community of Verapaz.
We were celebrating one year in site out west (went ziplining!) with our training group when the landslides occurred.  Our friend here was unable to return to her site (close to Verapaz) for weeks.  She spent a few days with us in Chinameca; she happened to be there during our relief campaign.
These pupusas are cooked on a comal (black clay skillet).  This is the old school way of cooking (delicious) pupusas.
Kelly, Estefani, Norma
Estefani and Bruce
Chinameca, our beloved pueblo

Making Tamales

Some friends had us over to make tamales de elote (corn).  It took practically all day, but was a good time.
snack time
Kelly cut corn and I don't care.
Bruce grinding corn at the mill
Ana and Kelly take the ground corn back to the house
Walk like a Salvadoran.
Los Fox form the tamales by filling the husks with the ground corn.
Orbelina and Baltazar, tamale experts
Kelly mixes atol, a hot, thick corn drink.
Tamales, ready to be steamed on the fire.  Mission accomplished.