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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: