This is from my mom, Ruby, who is doing this work with me (edited slightly to account for the keys she couldn’t find because the computers here are set up to recognize a Spanish language keyboard, but the keyboard itself is English language. For example, a forward slash is Shift+7):
Well, conversations here are so interesting sometimes. Like take conversations with Alicia, the director of Co-Madres. She is a well educated and very grounded woman. So the other day she told me that global warming was caused by all the space ships going to the moon. She said they punched holes in the atmosphere, and that’s the main cause of it. I said I didn’t think so. “Oh yes,” she said, “it is.”
Inez and I use bug spray frequently because the Salvadoran version of mosquitos are tiny but omnipresent and carriers of dengue. Sometimes the spray bottle doesn’t work, and sometimes the spray itself seems ineffective, in Inez’s case at least.
So yesterday I realized that sometimes the bottle doesn’t work because I hold it upside down to spray it, and then the tube leading to the sprayer sucks up air and you have to pump it a bunch of times before it works. So I told Inez, Hey I think the bug spray doesn’t work sometimes because I hold it upside down to spray it. She looked at me like I was crazy, then asked, “Do you mean the bug spray or the bottle?” I told her the bottle. “Oh,” she says, “I thought you meant the spray itself” and I was gonna say, “you’ve been in El Salvador for too long.” Like, that’s just the kind of thing you might hear a Salvadoran saying causes the spray itself to be ineffective.
Less interesting is sometimes feeling like an escapee from the zoo, or maybe an attraction at a freak show. I would love to be able to walk down the street without getting stares from half the people we pass. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but a LOT of people look at us, and many openly stare. Kids point and tell their parents, “Look look! Over there, look! The gringas!” The population here is just so homogenous, and there is almost no tourism. So I gues we’re a curiosity. The other day I reached up and touched the top of my head to be sure I hadn’t sprouted horns. Which gave me chuckle. Nope, no horns yet. Although I’m sure the pastor of the Evangelical Friends Church of La Reyna would be convinced I’m in the hands of the devil if only he knew about my life. In a sermon he gave on Sunday he told his congragation that if they didn’t come to the church on their appointed day to pray, men on Saturday, young adults on Friday, women on Wednesday, that it was because surely they were in the hands of the devil. That they were just choosing to not obey God. I’m not sure, but I don’t remember ever hearing any mention of these specific days for praying when I used to hear the bible read when I was a kid and raised Catholic.
Sometimes I wonder what we say and do that hits them the same way, like … how wierd is that? And I think about violence, and how easy it is to think of people as the other, which protects us from the pain we would otherwise feel when we commit violence, or when we simply lack compassion.
They are blinking the lights in the cyber, I have to go. Thanks for listening.