Archive for the ‘Living in El Salvador’ Category

There is No Fart ( Speaking Salvadoran – Lesson One )   7 comments

A literal translation of a common phrase used by Salvadorans:  “No Hay Pedo”,  means ‘There is no Fart.”

Makes absolutely no sense but they get it and that’s all that matters.  Now you get it, too.

For us, it really means ‘Don’t Worry About it,’ or ‘It’s Ok’, ‘That’s Fine”, et cetera.    For example, my husband is going to a friend’s house and is running late to bring over beer, or there will be a change of plans, or something of that matter.  So he’ll say “No Hay Pedo.”   So don’t worry man, there’s NO FART!     HA HA!   Being a non-native Spanish speaker, I have to giggle sometimes when I think of the actual words.

Pedo is used in a other expressions, but often to mean “What’s up?” or ‘What’s going on?” with:  “Que Pedo?”

It is slang so you wouldn’t use it anywhere, just like you would not say ‘what’s up Dude!’ to an elder at a church event.  But in the street with your buds, hey –  no hay pedo.

Posted December 29, 2013 by El Salvador from the Inside in Living in El Salvador

My brother in law   Leave a comment

My Brother in law prefers to sleep with a glass of water next to his bed.  He says you should always have water next to your bed because if while you are sleeping, your soul becomes thirsty, it may wander too far looking for water – and who knows what bad results could come about with that.  So keep a glass of water next to the bed, for safety sake.

Beliefs like this are surprising to most westerners, but very common among Salvadorans.

The Best Chicken I’ve had in my life   2 comments

My husband is tired of me saying it over and over again, so I’ll tell someone else now.

Last night we ate roasted chicken that our in-laws sent with the “Viajero”.  It was the BEST CHICKEN I’ve ever eaten in my life!      (The Viajero is a person who travels back and forth, bringing packages and gifts, with him or her to and from the United States and El Salvador).    My sister in law prepared it, and had roasted it with some kind of amazing spices.  I wanted to know if it was from the house or the store.  The bones were shorter, so it seems like a home-raised chicken.   They sent a roasted chicken some months back, but it was from my mother in law, and this one from my sister in law – it’s even better.

They also sent Queso Seco – a huge chunk of it, and some Alguashte – ground up pepitas, and Maize Joco – ground up toasted Maize for drinking in the morning.

We dug into the Queso Seco, which went well with our red wine – I splurged on Blackstone instead of our normal candy-tasting ‘Kangaroo’ Merlot.   Meanwhile, my husband ate almost the ENTIRE chicken.

How to Deal with the Ministry of Health in El Salvador   Leave a comment

Cow in a Creek

Vaca en Quebrada / Cow in Creek – rural El Salvador, Oct 2006, Jen Bauer

Como Manejar El Ministerio de Salud en El Salvador.

This is an instructive article on how to deal with the Ministry of Health in El Salvador.

I’ll start with a definition of  “Gallinaza” (pronounced guy-ee-nah-sah).  Every Salvadoran knows what it is, but gringos will know it best as Chicken Sh*t.  OK, so in the rural areas of El Salvador, near farms, you see a lot of flies.  This happens when one lives near livestock, farmers and agricultural people are accustomed to it.

There are certain seasons and times of year when the “fly problem” is worse than others, depending on heat and other conditions.  BUT – there are other times when an acute and painful infestation will take place.  This is often a result of farmers or ranchers “tirando Gallinaza” – discarding the crap on the side of the road secretly, in the dark of the night, or using it as fertilizer on their land, out in plain view, for everyone to see.

Our story focuses on the use of Gallinaza as fertilizer.   There’s a family of cattle ranchers who live close to my husband’s neighborhood in Rural Chalatenango (Chalate).  Ironically, but not surprisingly, they are related to the infamous “medio millon,” a notorious narcotrafficker and general malevolent person (persona malisia) who was trouble even in his youth.  (Yes, Medio Millon grew up in my husband’s neighborhood and my husband has some colorful stories about him). But anyway, let’s get back to my story.

These brothers own HUUUUGE tracts of land – we’re talking ridiculous in size – that they ranch on.  Some of this land was acquired during the epoch of President Duarte, who was more of a socialist style president. He essentially gave land that was not in use by various rich owners, some of them high up military members who did not use it – to local people, for agricultural use.  This is how my father in law got his ‘parcela’ and how these ranchers got most of their land, indirectly (the story of how they actually got their land is also colorful, but I won’t post it here.  ‘Nuff said ’bout them in this article alone).   Their ranch is SO big, my husband says, that 5 or more adult cows die every day there of natural causes, and about 10-15 calves (chibos) also die.   This gives you an idea how much cattle they have.

To grow hay better, they fertilize land with Gallinaza, since its cheaper than fertilizer – and who knows, maybe works better.   My husband says its about gluttony, that rich people always have to have more – and likens it to a very drunk man taking yet another shot of alcohol, when he least needs it.

My in-laws neighborhood is a little ways down the road from the ranch, on the other side of the river, and let me tell you – when they throw that chicken sh*t down, its like the seven plagues of Egypt – you’ve never seen so many flies in your life.  For a gringa from a happy middle class upbringing, it’s grossifying.  So I said to my husband, if they live down the road, what’s it like for the people who live close by?!

And those  neighbors began to complain.   So, El Ministerio de Salud came out to check on the situation, and paid the ranch a visit.

My husband spoke with some of the ‘corraleros’ – farm hands on the ranch – on his recent visit to El Salvador last month.  According to them, this is how things went:   officials from the ministry of health arrived, and a steer was slaughtered immediately.  The brothers had it roasted and put together a nice welcome lunch for their visitors.  They enjoyed this wonderful meal, and as a going away gift, were given a live steer to take back home with them.  What nice guys these ranchers are!

So that’s how the Gallinaza problem was ‘taken care of’.   A friendly visit,  delicious lunch, and a handshake.

Listening to the Radio in El Salvador   Leave a comment

In El Salvador I was spoiled with all the radio stations playing Latino music.  Just like American radio, they run the spectrum from top 40 style like in the U.S., to oldies, Christian, and public radio.  Talk radio does not seem as pervasive, but maybe that’s a good thing (no Rush Limbaugh).

Radio “La Mejor 98.9″ is a top hits station, you can get all the playola you want there with songs like “Corre!” by Jesse & Joy, repeated frequently throughout the day (I still like it despite the overplay).  If you want to hear American music, there’s a couple stations with English language songs.  I can’t remember the number, but one station in the “90s” numbers plays Metal Rock – it’s good.

I loved Radio Fiesta, 104.9, with its older dance-able hits of Salsa, Merengue, and Cumbia.  I would tune in nights and dance in the kitchen to cumbia while cooking, in my ginas (sandals), my husband laughing at me.   106.5 plays Ranchera and similar genres (Radio Ranchera), like Vicente Fernandez.   One thing that would always make me giggle was hearing an “American” song start to play, then suddenly hearing it sung entirely in Spanish, often with lyrics of a different meaning.

I found Radio UCA (Universidad Centroamericana), 91.7 similar to National Public Radio, but with religious overtones.  I know it sounds weird, but a blanket of religious sentiment snows on everything in El Salvador, you get used to it.  Radio Nacional is the official public station of El Salvador, also good.  I need my fill of left-wing babble even if it’s only a murmur in the background – has a soothing effect, like womb sounds do to a newborn.

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My FAVORITE time to listen to radio in El Salvador is on weekends.Radio UCA and Radio Nacional both have music shows playing oldies style Latin hits including Boleros, old Ranchera, old Salsa Vieja like estilo Cubano, Cumbias, Mambo, Cha-Cha-Cha, the whole gambit.

Here is a video sample of the programming, sampled from Radio Nacional 96.9.

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We live in a major metropolitan area, but there are almost no Spanish language stations. You’d think there would be several, yet so far I’ve found one AM station.   So we went to the internet.  My husband used to listen to “Radio Chevre” streaming live.  We looked for it and found something better – a site with (almost) every station that streams live from El Salvador!!  So…

LISTEN to LIVE RADIO from EL SALVADOR

ESCUCHA RADIO VIVO de El Salvador! – Haz un click

I used to hear great Salsa vieja on Radio La Klave in El Salvador.  Then it became radio Guazapa, but the station still exists.   La Klave does not appear on the website above, so go to the link below.  ( I’m listening to La Klave right now, it’s 11:25am in El Salvador, and they’re playing a Cuban style Salsa Vieja tune !! )

Listen to Radio La Klave here  – http://myradiostream.com/laklave 

Escucha radio La KLAVE en vivo de El Salvador  

Listen to Live Radio from El Salvador / Escucha Radio en Vivo de El Salvador   1 comment

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Para escuchar radio en vivo de El Salvador, por el internet, sintoniza a emisoras Salvadoreñas aca:

ESCUCHA RADIO VIVO de El Salvador!

( Radio UCA 91.7,  Radio Fiesta 104.9, Radio Ranchera 106.5, Radio La Mejor 98.9, y mas )

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Para Radio LA KLAVE, haz un click por aca — La Klave

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If you live in South Florida and like Spanish language and Latino music, you’re in luck.   If you live in New England, like we do, you’ll find…. one AM radio station.   So we reached out to the internet.  We found a website with (almost) every station that streams live from El Salvador!!

LISTEN TO LIVE RADIO from EL SALVADOR

They have Radio UCA 91.7,  Radio Fiesta 104.9, Radio Ranchera 106.5, Radio La Mejor 98.9, etc.

La Klave does not appear on that website, so go to  http://myradiostream.com/laklave  to hear them.    I used to hear great Salsa vieja on Radio La Klave in El Salvador.

Listen to Radio La Klave here

The Staying up all Night on Christmas Eve Thing   8 comments

nocturnar.com-forum-diseno-626047-arbol-de-navidad-gif

Image from http://www.nocturnar.com – click pic to link

I somehow cannot get used to it, but know I would have been better at it had I met my husband in my twenties.  It would be old hat by now.

First I will explain that when Latinos talk about “Navidad” they are really talking about the 24th of December.   That’s the big day for them.   The 25th is really just a day after the big party to rest day.

My husband and I planned to go to a party at Maria and Javier’s house.   I asked beforehand how long he wanted to stay.  “Oh, till 5:00 am!”    Remembering that I’d woken up at about 5:30am this same morning, we decide to go in separate cars, so the “old lady” can bail when she needs to.   Party is within a longer walking distance, but Jesus can opt for that if he’s had too many and the taxis are not answering the phone.

I can’t tell you how fantastic of a party Maria always throws.   There is a GIANT casserole on the stove filled with rice – it’s about two feet wide – and I am not exaggerating.   Inside of the oven were all the “meats.”   She had – a Chumpe Pollo  (one of those insanely large chickens they have these days), a Turkey, and a Pork Roast.   They also had nice jumbo shrimp everyone was picking at.   We got there late (almost midnight) – which I learned later was really EARLY – he he he.

The party had, I thought, “thinned out” – there were about 10 people or less, and Maria’s family, including her daughter, son in law, and grandkids.

All of a sudden, Javier walks into the kitchen, dressed as Santa, with the suit and all, and even a pretend plastic pipe.   They had bought small gifts for everyone attending, and next thing you know we’re being called up to sit on Santa’s lap, Maria’s yerno taking pics with his i-pad, and we’re all cracking up at the guys who have to sit on Santa’s lap, too.   The funniest part was how Maria’s nieto (grandson) was pitching a fit about not sitting on Santa’s lap – she tried, but could not get a nice posed picture with him on Santa’s lap.   Meanwhile, the big burly guys were hamming it up, some even kissing Santa on the cheek!

I don’t know how Maria does it, but every year she buys gifts, maybe at clearance or big sales, but every SINGLE person who goes to her party walks out with a gift.   And she works at a factory sorting potatoes, onions and fruits.  You know what they say, it’s often the poorest people who are most generous.

Sometime around 1am a couple of guys walk into the party, carry instruments.  One guy was a funny character and spoke his best English with me – he was the guitarist.  The other gentleman had an accordion.  They sat in the family room and started jamming famous Mexican / Latino songs.  I recognized a couple of them, but Javier knew them ALL – and was singing along with all the words.    Those guys were AMAZING!

I chatted with a guy from San Vicente (in E.S. they call it “SanVi” for slang) about the different places I got to know while I visited and lived there, and it was nice.  His keys were absconded from him by Maria, so he was definitely there for the night, and had decided which couch he would crash on.

So I’m coming back to the point of my story, about staying up all night.  Some time after the “Dos Musicos” (2 musicians) arrived, a family and a couple of other friends of theirs walked into the party, maybe 1:30am.  The thinned out party was now building back up again.

At 2:00am I decided to bail.  Recovering from a cold, my throat was not pleased with any cold beer I doused it with, and all pooped, I said my goodbyes and left hubby and my brother in law with the rest of them.  No one was even close to leaving when I left.

Maria told me about the party the prior year – that finally at 3:00pm she went to sleep – a core set of people basically never went to bed.

I was not witness to how many people or how long they stayed up this year.   But Jesus (my husband, a great name to have this week) made it back some time around noon and crashed out completely at 1pm.

So that’s the STAYING UP ALL NIGHT on CHRISTMAS Latino thing.   My friend and I talked about it the “day after” on the 25th and he was in disbelief – “You can’t stay up all night like that”, he said “You’d have to be doing Cocaine or something.”

“No”, I explained to him, “Actually they have this amazing capacity to stay up all night without any mind altering substances because many people (mostly women) that are non drinkers / druggers are up right along with everyone, until very late.”

“It’s just a common practice of theirs”, I told him.

Latinos, at least the Salvadoran Brand, also stay up all night at wakes.   They drink coffee and eat sandwiches, the women chat with each other while the men play cards (and pull out bottles of guaro [cheap rum] , surreptitiously, to take nips at).

The tradition of staying up late, or Staying up all Night on Christmas, along with setting off firecrackers, is a Latino tradition which is almost the direct opposite of the “gringo” style tradition of stayin’ home and chillin’ with the family, eating home baked cookies in your pajamas.

“And guess what?”  I said to my friend, ” They’re going to do this all over again on New Years Eve!!”

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