We have now spent around 2 weeks in El Salvador. We spent a week mostly in El Rodeo, the small sister community of the Washington Ethical Society which we are members of.
El Rodeo is a small village in the hills of El Salvador’s Cabañas department (like a county), very near the Honduran border. There are around 30 households. The nearest town that appears on most maps is Victoria, the site of the community radio we visited. There are no paved roads in El Rodeo. You travel from building to building along dirt paths that get very slippery due to frequent rainfall during the rainy season (and it is currently the rainy season). Here are some pictures of us walking down the slippery path.
The houses have no running water. Water is gathered in rain barrels or collected in pilas (large concrete containers about the size of a big bathtub). The local water supply is contaminated, but the extent is unknown because recent water testing hasn’t been done. Either way, we are gringos who aren’t used to the microorganisms that live in the water, so we had to trek many 5 gallon water bottles down the hill for us to drink (with help from the sure-footed residents).
People cook outside on stoves heated by burning wood. In the house we stayed in they also had an indoor stove like in the US, but we didn’t see it in use. In the house where our food was prepared they used the indoor gas stove to make tortillas for every meal as well as other things. Most of us took turns making tortillas during different meals. It takes a lot of practice to make them perfectly round.
The bathrooms are latrines, located various distances from the houses.
Every house keeps a retinue of chickens and dogs (which they call chucho, not perro), who are not pets. Frequently there are also cats and horses. And there are many insects that scurry and fly along the paths, into the houses, and into the latrines. Danna, as always, was much loved by the mosquitoes. Neither of us liked getting bitten by the the various types of biting ants.
Before we came, we were under the impression that El Rodeo didn’t have electricity, but we were incorrect. They do. They also have many electrical appliances. The lovely women who cooked for us made our frequent meals of refried beans with the aid of a blender. Our host family had a flat screen tv which they watched some nights.
So here’s a bit of the lay of the land, a brief overview of what it was like to live in El Rodeo for a week. In our next post(s) we’ll go into a little more detail about the people and history.