Archive for the ‘Funny’ Category

From Ruffin’ it to a Luxury Outhouse   3 comments

Bathroom in the bushes works perfect except when its raining or too dark to creep in the weeds. For those moments, we have a hand-held porta-potty. Weighs almost nothing!

We’ve been in the new house five weeks now as of Saturday.  Pretty much all was ready and in place for living here.  All the doors and windows were in, the water and electric were connected.

But a few odds and ends remained, mostly in the way of the sh*t, shower, and shave routine.

Jesus hadn’t built an outhouse yet, so we had to do our business in “el monte” (the bushes/grass).

I didn’t mind it, as we don’t have neighbors on one side, and lots of trees between us and our neighbors on the other side, and numerous spots to choose from.

The bathroom in the bushes was working as a fine go-between till we had the outhouse done, until…. One morning I heard loud cracking noises in the field next to us.  The owners had decided to cut down various trees and brush to plant a “milpa” (cornfield), and Jesus’ Tio (uncle) was just a choppin’ away at that wood.   When he was done several hours later, he left a new, giant clearing next to our backyard, giving  a clear line-of-sight for anyone working the field to see us doing our “business”.   NOW the outhouse became more urgent.  We were doing all sorts of funny gymnastics out there, ducking behind bigger bushes we could find or going almost down to ones by the river (and hoping no one was coming to swim!) to do the daily duty.

So, my husband got started quickly.  He built a cement slab, with a hole connected to four
inch PVC piping that runs down a small incline to the mini septic tank.   Since it’s only
temporary, we decided on sheet metal attached to wood.   Here is the finished product:

We are the proud owners of Jicaron’s only luxury, flushing outhouse.

The mini-septic tank my husband built (isn’t he clever?), sticking an upside down barrel into the ground. So much rock he couldn’t get it all the way in, but its our “2-3 month septic tank for 2 daily sh*tters” so it will hold up until we leave. If not, there’s always the bathroom-in-the-bushes.

I cannot shower with my clothes on, OK?   Jesus will shower in front of the pila, wearing his underwear, which is the typical Salvadoran in the country style way to bathe, though he prefers to bathe in the river at the bottom of the hill.   Women need to wear more, usually a tank top and a pair of shorts or skirt is the norm.   People just wash themselves, and suds themselves up under their clothing to get the covered parts clean, and then rinse out like that, with clothes on, and it’s all perfectly normal, no one blinks.  No shower stall, curtain, nothing.   Because you’re all covered up anyway, you can even be talking with someone while you’re bathing.   Personally, I prefer the full strip-down style, so I’ve adopted the corner behind the kitchen as my shower stall.  It works well, and is close enough to the house to stay out of the view of anyone in the cornfield next door.

I started out with scrap pieces of Durock from construction, and last week Jesus cemented over the earth so I now have a real floor to shower on.   Jesus claims that anyone in the pasture on the other side of the river like Romeo (the owner), can see me bathing.  Well heck, his champa in the pasture (shed) is nearly two football fields away –  from where I shower I barely see him, let alone any details on his person.  Which means the same for him looking this way, right?    “If he sees a tiny pink human figure in the distance, and guesses it’s me bathing, I hope it makes his day,” I told him.

My open-air bucket shower, sporting a durock cee-ment board floor.  Husband gave me an upgrade, and cemented the ground a week ago.

The light green area in the middle is Romeo’s cow pasture (name is pronounced “Roh-may-oh” btw). I think it’s kinda far to see much. You be the judge.

Mr. Cement / Señor Cemento   2 comments

Christmas Wishes for Hubby (

We’re finishing the tail end of our extended stay in El Salvador full circle by returning to my husband’s neighborhood, right where we started, but this time living in our own house.  Not the “Siamese-twinned” to my in-laws house we lived in for several months when we got here, which was too much joy for me to put into words.  It feels like a whole new neighborhood to me, and my only regret is we didn’t fix up grandpa’s old house sooner!    Since we moved into the house, my husband has been keeping himself entertained with an array of projects he works on nearly every day.  And almost every one involves cement (pronounced as “see-ment,” southern American style, throughout the rest of this entry).

It started with the Pila (washing sink).  As sweet as the albañil (mason/bricklayer) Efraim is, he couldn’t cut the mustard with the Pila.  We found out mid-Pila job that he’d never even built one before.  Odd, considering almost every family has one here.  So my husband griped, we chuckled about it, and he fixed it himself.  Neither of the two sink sides drained proper, so he added a pitch, which he calls a “desnivel” (uneven/un-level), as that didn’t make it into Efraim’s “learn how to make a Pila on-the-job” job.  Then there was with the height of the Pila.  My husband built the darn thing so high it was just right – for a six foot person – and since we’re both “bajitos”*  (shorties), that wasn’t going to work.  So he came up with a great solution to kill two birds with one sto- er, ce-ment bag, that is.  Laid down a pile of cement in front of the pila after building up the ground a few inches with some dirt, so we both grew about 5 inches taller by the time the see-ment dried. Perfect!

Then there was the roof.  Let’s just say my husband built it a bit, uhh – unconventional.  He placed Durock on top of the very wood heavy beams he’d installed, and then taped them and put on a thin layer of cee-ment on top several months back.  He admittedly forgot to seal with silicone – woops!   My strong suggestions to make that cement layer thicker last year were brushed aside until rainy season this year when….oh, ya know…wet patches began appearing under the roof, on the IN-side of the house, which though my husband says were just “humedad” (humidity), my response was “Yeah, and how long before that ‘humedad’ becomes drip, drip, drip?”  “I’ll FIX it he said, I’ve planned on doing that all along – no worries.”

Salvadorans have this amazing ability to NOT worry, that most Americans are either hard-wired or programmed to do.  Sometimes its good.  And sometimes it turns into — poor planning (or at times ‘no’ planning, and then scrambling to fix things last minute when the sky is falling).   So, a few cement bags later, and the thin patches of our flat cement roof were thickened, and spaces where “charcos” or puddles, formed, were filled to avoid water sitting so long that it seeps in.  My husband’s dream is to ultimately build a room on top of that “plajon” (cement sheet with rebar), and have a pretty sitting/patio area in front of it – he envisions a a palm-leaf roof over the patio area like the ones at beachside restaurants.  I’ll supply the margaritas.

And lest we forget the very necessary “servicio” (outhouse).  Cement got laid down for that, and a flushing toilet propped on top of a hole with a large PVC pipe connected to a mini-septic tank.  It’s the fanciest outhouse in the neighborhood.  I love it!

Then he got tired of us always dragging dirt onto the front patio area, so he mixed up some more cee-ment and laid down an L-shaped piece so we can walk mud-free from the front to the back of the house on one side of the “L”, and on the other side of the “L” is where I shower behind the kitchen.  Before he laid down the big L, I was standing on a couple scrap pieces of Durock that I’d been using as my “floor”.  It worked for awhile.

Oh, the “smooth cement finish” kitchen floor, another see-ment addition which means I can mop the kitchen floor, not just sweep it.  The “Sala” which we use as our family room and sleeping room is getting “smoothed” piece by piece as of this week.

And the little walkway running from the front patio out into the yard –  with a nice diamond pattern made by adding scrap terra cotta tile pieces we got from our old landlord, Don Jorge.  I’ve never seen anything like this before in the tile world, but then I’m no expert.  The tiles he installed in the garage in Los Planes are actually two tiles in one unit, which you snap apart, which leaves two or three ½ inch strips of extra terra cotta that gets wasted.  Not sure what the point is, but there must be some smart efficiency about firing the terra cotta that way, or they wouldn’t do it, right?  NOT that El Salvador and Latin America are famous for efficiency, but let’s drop them a compliment anyway.

I think Mr. Cement is proud of his recent productions, and I’m proud of him.   It’s a perfect segue from his traditional job as a plasterer.  But now he wants to take it it to a whole different level.   The other day I said I want to buy weights to follow the Denise Austin “toner” video better.  It just doesn’t feel right going through the motions with no weights.  Unlike most people trying to adjust their weight, I have the “opposite” problem:  age appears to evaporate me, so I’m hoping to build up and firm up. My husband  says  “Why don’t you just EAT MORE?”   But he’s decided to help me, and ….drumroll please….Mr. Ce-ment is going to make me – WEIGHTS – out of cee-ment.  Ha ha ha ha ha!   I’m going to humor him, but I’ll keep Walmart as my backup plan.

* Bajitos – shorties.  Which my 5 foot 7 husband disagrees with constantly.  He thinks he’s ‘tall’ because he’s the tallest of the seven brothers in his family.  Too funny.

Paper Shredder   2 comments

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

The Beloved Mattress   3 comments

Today is the first day of August, and Friday after work marked the official start of the “Vacaciones Augostinos,” August Vacation week in El Salvador.   Today is also Sunday, but being as it’s Sunday for me every day, I decided to “make hay while the sun shines” and get some serious washing done.  Here in Los Planes, in the rainy season, it can take 2 days to dry a load of clothes (a type of babysitting: put them out, take them in, out, in, out, in…), so when the sun comes out strong, women here run to the Pila (washing sink), washing as much clothing as they can in a race to get them sun bathed and dry.

My husband set off for Chalatenango yesterday to see about getting the car fixed and stay at the in-laws while there, so I (stealthily) decided to wash his nappy old mattress and cover against his strict orders not to.

First, I’ll explain how mattresses work here:  most people in El Salvador do not sleep on the Sealy Posturepedic style mattress us American Folk have grown to know and love.  The majority of people here sleep on mattresses anywhere between 2 and 4 inches thick, on top of a bed with not a box spring, but a nylon type netting that it sets upon.  If no bed, then the floor.  Mattresses of this size are especially convenient considering the number of people who often sleep to a room and unexpected guests who drop in (say, 5 or more at a time – like two parents and their 3++ kids).  Storage is simple: just stick one mattress on top of another on the bed, like Penelope and the pea, and you’re all set – a thicker mattress to sleep on when stacked, or a multitude of instant beds at a moment’s notice.

This mattress we no longer sleep on is a souvenir of our days-gone-bye in the department of Chalatenango (thank you, Lawd!), which my husband brought with us in the recent move to Los Planes (de Renderos).  The bed and mattress were bought 15 some odd years ago, so by the time my husband and I slept on it, the nylon netting had started to go in various places, and my husband joked and called it a “personal” (one person only) bed.  On nights when I wanted to get cozy with him (the couch being a more comfy alternative), he being the heavier of us, sank to the lowest part of the bed where the netting had stretched towards the floor, so I would find myself leaning towards, and almost falling into him, from the steep downward slope.

The mattress so dear to my husband had an animal mishap shortly after we moved (need I say more?).  So I washed the whole thing (for the first time) some days back in the tub portion of the Pila (washing sink).  Good thing for the thinness of the mattress – its 2.5 inches thick at best, but in most places this elaborated sponge has compacted into a 1 inch or less mass easily bendable for washing.

But then the rain came.  And we set the dear mattress to dry upstairs inside.  Forgotten for a day or two and not turned over, it did what you’d expect an old sponge to do when moist and drying ever so slowly – stiiiiiiink!

That didn’t bother hubby at all.  No worries, just fold it back into its cover, lay it on the floor, and presto!  A lounger to watch TV on.  Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!



Can't Live Without It


The stink of the mattress became a contagion – anything set on it, like bedding, blankets, the new pillow and pillowcase recently bought, even my sweatpants, stank of the spreading o-dour.

I marched forward with my decision to wash it AGAIN.   And had a slight mishap.  We have two clothes lines close to one other, so I draped the mattress over both, hoping for a quicker dry.  Some time after I set the souvenir sponge out to dry, a large chunk on one line severed from its parent on the other…RIIIIIP!    The Forbidden washing had led to collateral damage.

If that weren’t enough, I draped it under the house on a window rail after it began raining and the dog shredded a corner of it!

By now you’re probably thinking “Just BURN the damn thing!”  My sentiments exactly, but if cleaning it is prohibited, what punishment is in store for setting it afire?  I dared not.

Now that I’ve cleaned it, ripped it, dog eaten a corner of it, I must sew it, and hope it will not shred with the upcoming needlework… I’ll have it happily tucked into its cover before hubby comes home and he won’t be the wiser.

Good Job!  The mattress, in multiple parts, had four seams.


In the spirit of not wasting in El Salvador, the effort was not futile.

The Morning Music Must Ring..and..Water System here   Leave a comment

The Morning Music
It’s another typical morning in Jicaron City, El Salvador.  At 25 minutes to 6am, I’ve begun to wake up, having fallen asleep early the night before.  I slept well, so the thumping sound drumming out the neighbor’s stereo one house over and up the hill is fortunately, less troublesome than it would be.

At 5:45 another neighbor one house over in the other direction begins his morning chorus, having taken his queue from neighbor number one.  We now have a partial orchestra, with a thempety thump on one side (is it a reggaeton or a modern latino techno?) and a cheery Ranchera ringing from the other – all we need now is a good salsa or cumbia and we’re complete!

Ahh..a hot shower
Today was a “water” day* which means the water valves coming from the street in our neighborhood are turned on for 1-2 hours while everyone fills up their pila (washing sink), barrels, and various jugs.  For my husband and I, we simply turn the valve for our water tank on and let it fill; with a tank our sink and shower act like any other plumbing in the States.

I decided to jump on the opportunity to take a “hot” shower.  Hot water heaters have little use here but for less than 2 months a year that its cooler, but for that 2 hour window when the street tap is turned on, we can take a “faux” hot shower, because the water has been “heated” naturally from the sun as the tank sits atop a hill and its sunny every day in Chalatenango.  During a string of rainy days or during a cold wave, one must be brave getting into the shower.  If it ever gets brrr cold here I’m heating up water on the stove, ‘nuf bravery for me.

* We share water with another neighborhood.  On days we don’t get water, their taps are turned on.

Posted January 12, 2010 by El Salvador from the Inside in Funny, Noise, Water

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Armadillo Day (Eating, that is)   7 comments

No, it is not a mis-spelling for Armistice Day. Today, in our house, it is Armadillo Day. The local word for armadillo is “Cusuco”, used more commonly here in Central America.

Click a Pic for its larger image…..

Jesus’ brother was quite proud of his capture yesterday, and showed it off to family and visiting neighbors (no that’s not him in the pic, its another neighbor). Everyone took their turn poking and prodding it, some jumping back a few feet when he grunted and arched his back in response. Of course, he couldn’t run very far, as a shoelace was tied around his belly, making movement all the more difficult and slow for him. I felt sorry for the poor guy. He was rather cute, in a cusuco kind of way, with a long snout that was soft and pink at the end, and funny little ears that curled a bit at the tops. Hard to tell where his eyes were or if he could see very well. They kept him under a wooden crate with a heavy rock on top most of the time, but every chance he had at freedom he leapt into the nearest corner, trying to burrow himself out of this jam, making his funny grunting sounds all the while.

In the wee hours of the morning I woke to the sound of what seemed like someone playing Tupperware drums. I peeked out the door and realized it was Mr. Armadillo, making a valiant struggle to escape. I walked over to his wooden house and gave him my condolences. “Sorry, buddy, I can’t set you free – everyone will know it was me.” About mid-morning I heard a thudding noise and the sounds of a few people out front, only to open the door and see my brother-in-law Gito beating the cusuco’s head with a hammer. “How disgusting”, I exclaimed, and closed the door shut again. They all laughed. This is the type of entertainment you find out here in the middle of nowhere, El Salvador.

After it was cooked, they offered me cusuco, but I declined.

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