Archive for the ‘Christmas in El Salvador’ Category

A Christmas Moment to Remember. Mi vecina me dio panes con pollo   Leave a comment

There is nothing more humbling than to have someone 20 times more poor than you hand you a plate of food. My neighbor gave ME “panes con pollo” (chicken sandwiches) just moments ago and I was nearly speechless. It was a Christmas moment to remember.

She lives in the house next door, which is made of scraps of wood and corrugated metal. There are four adults and one little boy, her boy, all living together on a plot 1/3 the size of hours. They do not have a water pipe running from the main water company’s (ANDA) pipe to their home, and it is too costly for them to install, so we give them water when they need it.

It is definitely a humble home, where packed dirt ground outside becomes packed dirt floor inside. My neighbor washes with a fury – I have never seen anyone churn out so many diapers and shirts as fast as her. She does not have a PILA (washing sink). She washes all of her laundry and dishes on the top of an old white metal table. This, and two large metal drums, serves as her “Pila”.

We have been neighbors since July, but only seen each other’s profiles till this week, when I saw her on the sidewalk, and got to chat with her. “Sabas,” the older gentleman of the house does all the water “arrangements” with us. When she offered me the sandwiches I was so grateful; I had just begun to think “what will I eat?,” being alone with the sick dog tonight, when I heard her calling from the other side of the house. A glance from her side of the fence over to mine shows a sheer chasm of wealth between her and me. If anyone should have been giving food, it was me!

But this is not new nor exclusive to here. Worldwide, one will encounter the poorest of the poor in almost any country, sharing what little they have, always an extra portion, whilst the rich sweat through machinations on how to whittle them down to a niggardly wage.

I learned a lot about my neighbor in our 10 minute exchange. She does not want another child and is “planificando” as it is said here (‘planning,’ or taking birth control). The female empowerment cheerleader in my head shook her pom-poms when I heard this. Her little boy has a cold, as it dips down at night these days, so I found some tea bags for her to heat up.

After I ate my sandwiches, I found the set of musical Christmas lights we bought this week at the market. I hung them up on the window at the far corner of the house, nearest theirs, and put up the volume so we could share the blinking lights set to the tunes of Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer and a One-Horse Open Sleigh.

Christmas Greetings to all from El Salvador

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.

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