Archive for October 2010

Pollo Campero and American Chains in El Salvador   7 comments

Pictured here is a receipt from Pollo Robero, as I like to call them, tongue in cheek.

I must admit it is damn good tasting chicken. But I try limiting purchases to either a) special occasions, like this visit to the in-laws to treat them to something nice, or b) there’s nothing else to eat and I’m starvin’.

As an American and person of privileged means in El Salvador, I find it  distasteful, pun intended, that numerous fast food and restaurant chains set up shop here and charge nearly the SAME prices as in the U.S.

I do my best to near BOYCOTT them, and here’s why:

1) Food purchased here (chicken, beef, etc.) should be obviously cheaper. If BK is shipping patties here from the U.S. I’ll eat my hat.

2) Labor is R-I-D-C-U-L-O-U-S-L-Y cheap here: $6 a DAY. That’s not a typo. But let’s be generous and say they pay a whopping $7 or $8 a day.

So when I walk up to the counter of a BK, Wendys, Pollo Campero (originated in El Salvador btw), or other international joint, and see the SAME PRICES as I would in the U.S., its enough to make my stomach turn.

Yes, they are providing ‘jobs’ in El Salvador, but are we really beholden to them? I don’t see what grand favor they are doing for the people of El Salvador by paying workers an El Salvador minimum-wage while pocketing the American-priced profits.

You wanna help the Salvadoran People?   AVOID American or International Chains whenEVER possible.   I know this is hard, especially when traveling and missing “foods from home.”  But resist.

Listed below are Alternative Safe Food Options for Where to Eat in El Salvador, that actually help the People HERE, who could really use your money, not the big fat restaurant chain:

– Pupusa Stands
– Small Restaurants that are obviously “local”
– French Fry, Plaintain or Yucca chip stands
– Atol “chucho” stands ( a corn drink made from purple maize – yummy)
– I’ll add more to the list as they come along….

Fruit sold in its own “package” like Oranges, Bananas, Pineapple, Papaya, etc. is safe, once you wash it or peel it.

The curse of the gringa face   4 comments

We went to the market in Aguilares today, my husband and I, to buy raw cacao beans and spices for family members I plan to visit soon.

At the first stall, we were a bit surprised at the price of the cacao beans – $2.50 a pound.  Not even a year ago they were $1.50 a pound.  I opted to hear the same price repeated to me at a second vendor stall before buying at the now 40 percent increase in price.   Inflation happens here in a more obvious way — Salvadoran red “silk” (seda) beans have recently risen atrociously from 50 or 60 cents a pound to $1.25 a pound.   Chicken was 1.25 about 6 months ago – also now also increased, to 1.35-1.50 a lb.    You  know when beans cost almost as much as chicken by the pound  the “Pueblo Salvadoreno” – Salvadoran people are indeed, in trouble.

My husband told me after we left the second vendor stall,  “This is why I don’t like to go with you to these places – let’s forget it and go back to the car.”     He was sure everyone charged us more because of the case of…

“La Cara Gringa”     /   ” The Gringo Face”

Woops.  All I have to do is stand next to you and it’s the “curse of the cara gringa” – my face is the hidden tariff that sends prices racing to the clouds.   But we know, at least, when it comes to beans, that’s already sky high.   $1.25 and rising, without even a gringo face around!

Posted October 19, 2010 by El Salvador from the Inside in Food, Living in El Salvador

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Paper Shredder   2 comments

Posted October 9, 2010 by El Salvador from the Inside in Funny

Delantal (apron)   Leave a comment

Spent the morning with my husband’s mother and learned something new about her.   We were talking about making new seat cushion covers for the chairs, as she just finished a waist-apron (called an delantal) made out of remnants of Christmas tablecloths.  It was neat the way it turned out, with one type of fabric for the main apron, and a different one she used for the “pockets part.” – Wednesday, January 13, 2010.


Christmas apron (delantal) Irene made herself

The Delantal
A delantal is simply an apron.  Women are seen wearing them anywhere and everywhere in El Salvador.  When driving through the country or city, you’ll see women sporting their aprons in markets, pupuserias, restaurants, french fry or other food stands, and on sidewalks as they sell various goods.  Sometimes women wear a delantal when not working, instead of carrying a purse.

The delantal most commonly seen is a waist-level apron that runs partway to the knees, is usually white (or light) with lots of lacey or ribbon fringe on it as decoration.  The utility of the delantal is its multiple pockets, to hold coins, paper money, and small items while a woman works in or outside of the home.

Almost all women sport a delantal, regardless of their age, and sometimes in unexpected places.

On a visit to Panchimalco, I commented to my friend that a lot of old ladies were walking up the street with their aprons on.  “Oh, they’re coming out of church,” she said.  “With an delantal?,” I asked.  She explained that in the country its common custom for older women go to church dressed that way during the week, so as not to change clothes in the middle of the day.

Here are some photos I found from others that show well what women look like wearing a ‘delantal’.

Nice shot, restricted on flickr, so click this link: Mercado Central by hurtadoc777

Photo by Lon and Queta on Flickr

Posted October 8, 2010 by El Salvador from the Inside in Living in El Salvador

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On Paying Bills   5 comments

Jan 4, 2010 – Today we went to Nueva Concepcion to pay our internet/cable bill at the bank.

Boys Standing in Line by Phillip Faulkner. Click pix for more

Most people pay bills in El Salvador either at the bank or directly at the utility provider, and in cash. The other payment option is via credit card, as writing a check is not, I repeat not an option to pay bills here. That cuts out probably 80% or more of the population. A quick review of credit card rates is rather interesting: in a recent visit to Scotiabank I saw a list of interest rates for various cards posted at the service window, all ranging from 16% APR at the lowest for a ‘platinum’ card, to 38% in the highest case. Most were between 22-35%. Thanks, but I’ll pass.

While at the bank, a middle-aged woman walking out was sporting a purse that said “Feels Good,” which struck me as comical. So few people here know any English beyond “hello,” I wondered if she knew what it meant. I bet if it said “Just Farted” she’d be happy all the same.

October 7, 2010 – more on paying bills…

The line for paying bills at lunchtime is often 20 or more people long. Some banks have started requiring one have an account with them to pay a bill, and others are only accepting payments until 2 or 3:00pm. I don’t know what arrangements the banks have with utilities, but I imagine they get a cut for all this servicing. No banks are open on Saturday’s, so you must devote one or more lunch hours each month towards paying bills, and cross your fingers the line isn’t so long you get back to work late. You cannot save up your bills and pay them all at once. Here’s why:

Bills arrive at homes hand-carried by utility employees, and often SO late you must run to the bank during lunch quick-speed within 1-3 days. If you miss that mark, you have a couple more days to pay direct at the utility office; any more delays and you’re risking a late fee. And at $6-$10 a day salaries, even 50 cents hurts.

As for the delivery method: how funny is it that utility companies can afford to have bills HAND CARRIED to houses instead of sending them by mail? The joke is on both Salvadorans, the one who makes sh*t for money delivering the bill, and other who gets it at the brink of being “tardy!” We got our water bill from “ANDA” on September 14, 2010 somewhere after 10:00am – it was slipped under our ‘puerton’ (metal garage door/gate). The bill stated it can be paid at banks “till September 16” and at ANDA directly after the 16th. By the way, September 15 is a national holiday so we had exactly one day to pay the bill at a bank, thereafter must go to an ANDA office. I thought of making a remark to someone there, but the bill comes in cheap enough I better shut well shut my mouth or they’ll find a way to jack it up.

Bills don’t often come cheap with ANDA, and people constantly make complaints. One news story had an interesting and happy ending for water charges. Bills for several families in a very poor neighborhood were showing balances of up to 40 and 60 dollars, outrageous in El Salvador. Turns out while they were paying the bills, a very un-bright employee of ANDA was discarding the receipts and pocketing the money, all the while being filmed by cameras that ANDA always had in place while they were working there. A replay of the footage showed everything.     Duuuuuuuuh.

Posted October 7, 2010 by El Salvador from the Inside in Paying Bills

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Horny Spiders   5 comments

I love these guys!  Don’t know their name, but these spiders have a hard spotted shell with  two distinctive points or ‘horns’ so I just call them horny spiders.  Environment = high elevation in El Salvador (3,000 ft), and seen during rainy season.

See more at the Wonderful World of Insects in El Salvador Photo Gallery.

Posted October 1, 2010 by El Salvador from the Inside in Spider

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