El Amate observations

July 9 @ 7 a.m.

1. When I am home, whether it is in Washington DC or Georgia, I always have something to do and a very immediate deadline to get it done within. Here, the only deadlines involve what a body tells itself to do. Sleep, eat, play, use the bathroom.

To act that simply has been difficult. I am here working on a project, so I need to set up interviews. People don’t feel that urgent.

The word leaving and coming is used almost interchangeably. Cuando veniendo?

And since my leaving will not come for another week, we have time, and a lot of it apparently.

When the game between Brazil and Germany is about to start and all business has shut down. Nothing else exists except for the game, which is fine by me. I’ve gotten caught up in the World Cup excitement, especially after watching the Columbia-Brazil and Costa Rica-Holland games.

2. Futbol is so popular here, the basketball court in the nearby town of Intipuca is used for futbol games, not basketball. The goal’s net is still in such good condition that I wonder if the court has ever seen a basketball.

The local tiendas sell only various versions of futbols, some smaller, some regulation size. No basketball, baseball, tennis ball or kickball here.

On Sunday it is not church that draws the biggest crowd (and there are two in the small town of El Amate), but the weekly futbol came different cities in El Salvador have between each other.

Before social media, teams would call each other out on the local radio show, but now there’s Facebook and games are mostly arranged that way. Last Sunday’s game was against La Union, a large city east of El Amate on the edge of El Salvador’s border with Honduras.

According to Kevin, El Amate, this tiny village buried in a mountain holds the country’s nation title for the past two years. And they beat La Union like they stole something, 6-1.

3. Everyone in here works doing something, but the day is constructed like, say, a Friday. There is always work to be done and because it is hot enough to scare the devil here by midday, the day for most people begins at 5 a.m., when the sun is rising, the rooster is crowing and all the animals everyone owns along with it, and ends anywhere between noon and 4 in the afternoon, depending on who you are and what you do.

Teachers work until 3. The autobus driver, Alfredo, works mornings and afternoons, but also doubles as a taxi driver and auto mechanic. Some work clearing land of trees and growth in order to prepare for planting. Others drive cattle to grazing land, then get them later for water and drive them home to a pen. Some work on houses and if you read my last post, you get the idea.

4. Everyone here is pretty genuinely happy. Not that a smile necessarily denotes happiness, but everyone, and I do mean everyone, smiles and says something to any passerby here. When I’m walking down DC’s highways and byways people have the tight face on and when I smile, many of them smile back, which may convey a general sense of humanity, but many look at me as if the IRS stole all their cookies, then ate said cookies in front of them. The other evening, I was walking back to Abuela Aminta’s house and a mom and daughter were playing futbol with each other and included me in the game. I was initially annoyed because I was so tired, but the more I played, I just began to enjoy the moment and their generosity in including me in their play. I was asked about my ability to bachata. Up until yesterday, I had no bachata ability. Rosario and Julissa, Kevin’s cousins, taught me how to bachata and I have the sweat to prove I hung in there for our 30-minute session.

5. There is no air conditioning here. I’d like to say that the DC-Georgia heat and humidity prepared me for the heat here. It did not prepare me for a house without air conditioning. Yesterday was so hot we were sweating as much in the shade as we were in the sun. I am thankful for air conditioning and will never take it for granted again.

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