Archive for December 2009

Washing Clothes in the River   6 comments

It was around 1:00pm when my niece Carmen and I went to wash clothes at the river. I put a load of laundry into a shallow bucket called a guacal, this one about 2 feet in diameter. Carmen grabbed a guacal full of her own clothes and we trotted down to the river, passing several neighbors homes, then making our way down the steep hill of rock that brings us to the water. We chose a spot upstream from our usual place, as it was full of post-holiday swimmers, walking along jagged rocks, balancing here, hopping there. Our spot only had one good rock, which wobbled some until we shimmed it with another underneath. Carmen recruited the teenage boy (called a “bicho” in El Salvadoran Spanish) chatting with us nearby to help her build up a pile of rocks and make another washing slab. But I quickly told them to quit it, as we’d waste an hour to do it. and they were making a muddy mess of the water we were washing in. Carmen worked on the smaller rock next to mine while I fumbled along on the larger one – I needed all the help I could get.

My husband says I should wear a tank top and shorts at the river, so folks here don’t stare so much. I can’t get used to all that wet heavy stuff so I wear a two piece bikini and let them look all they want. With women pulling their entire breast out from under a shirt to breast feed just about anywhere and in front of anyone, I don’t understand the shock factor of a woman in a bikini by the river.

We finished the clothes and I washed myself with shampoo and soap, as does everyone here, before leaving. We packed up the guacal and trekked back along the river. Carmen wound her towel up, formed it into a circle, put it in on her head. Then she placed the 2 foot size guacal on top, and climbed up the steep rocky incline. Twenty+ pounds of wet clothes in the guacal, Carmen skipped along like a goat on the mountainside, as if nothing were perched on her head.

Here is a photo and comment from a man of Salvadoran descent I found when searching for photos of women washing clothes.


washing clothes in a stream - Santa Rosa de Lima

Si eres mujer y crees que tienes una vida dificil por que tienes que lavar y planchar, mira lo rudo que tiene que hacer una de mis tias para tener ropa limpia, y por cierto cuando esta quebrada no tiene agua en invierno debe caminar un par de kilómetros o sacar agua de un pozo para poder lavar.

Translated to English:  “If you are a woman and think you have a tough life because you have to wash and iron, look at the rough work one of my aunts has to do in order to have clean clothes; and in addition, when this stream doesn’t have water she must walk a couple kilometers or take water out of a well to wash clothes”

See more of Wilber Calderón’s photos here on Panoramio:   Wilber Calderón photos

Christmas in El Salvador   2 comments

It was just before 6:00 am when the neighbors stereo blasted happy music into the air. They may have been starting early for New Years. Truly, on any given day music can fountain out of nowhere starting at an hour like this where we’re living.

Here in the country sound privacy and sound barriers are not given too much consideration. A live and let live attitude prevails, and from what I gather, asking someone to turn down their music here would be seen as more inconsiderate than actually playing the music too loud. As today is the 31st I’ll tuck this noise event in with the whole New Year’s experience. Throughout the day firecrackers go off intermittently also, so we’re inside of a sound drum all day. Firecrackers, Fireworks, are set off here both on the 24th (“Veinticuatro”) and the 31st.

Christmas Eve is considered the highlight of Christmas here, and the 25th a happy day of rest afterward. With firecrackers and music, the 24th is a big party starting after work at night. It’s like having two New Year’s Eves. During these holidays, it’s customary to eat “Panes con Pollo,” small French-bread sandwiches, stuffed with chicken cooked in a rich sauce, and veggies, like cucumber, radishes, and a leafy vegetable called “berro” (don’t know what this is in English).



photo and recipe found at nury2000 on flicker


For both the 24th and 31st everyone buys new outfits – shirt, pants/skirt, shoes, accessories – the whole kit and caboodle, and then they “Estrenar,” or wear these clothes out for the first time. Almost no one in the poorer segments of the populace buy gifts; that would be too much on top of the new outfits.

Scorpian Encounter III of many – El Salvador   Leave a comment

What's that BROWN thing in the corner?

By now we’d grown accustomed to Scorpian sightings in rural Chalatenango, El Salvador.

They live in “El Techo” (the roof) says my father-in-law.  Hiding between crevices in las Tejas, the terracotta roof tiles, Scorpions occasionally find their way into the house.

The walls in our house stop several inches short of the roof to leave a a gap for air circulation, so the critters easily wander their way in.

This scorpian looks "Panzon" (pregnant) says my mother-in-law


Posted December 18, 2009 by El Salvador from the Inside in Scorpian

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