Since a couple of people have asked: Yes! We finally have cell-phone service and internet at home!! :) :) It took 5 trips down to the Claro store, but we eventually prevailed. The funny thing is that their computer system is so archaic, that 1. Even after we had submitted all of the necessary documents, we had to wait another few hours in the store for the guys to finish inputting everything into the computer, and 2. We had to go back the next day (Trip #6) to purchase a related monthly service, since the computer system does not update in real-time and it would take 24 hours for the system to begin recognizing us as existing customers. Goodness. We were in that store for so long each time just sitting and waiting, that the (extremely nice) sales clerk even taught me the word aburrido, meaning "boring."
The good news is that Geoff purchased a mobile internet service that would allow him to do work at any time on his laptop, even if our home network is down. If we decide to start traveling, we can also tag on $10 a month to extend the mobile coverage to other Central American countries, like Guatemala and Costa Rica, so that he can log on at any time and do emergency fixes. Pretty sweet.
Geoff and I spent a chunk of the weekend at an amazing beach house, along with the rest of the new international hires and their families. The beach house is owned by our principal, and -- I don't know what I had expected before getting there, but -- I was completely blown away by how luxurious it was. We had driven a long time to get there, since it was near the border of Guatemala, and by the time we were finally there, it was dark. We had passed various corn and sugar cane fields (El Salvador is lush with agriculture), and eventually turned down a bumpy little alley way. His maid's family came to open the front gate, and it looked almost like we had arrived on a FARM!! He has so much land in front of the house, that he actually keeps two goats, a big dog, and a number of roosters as pets. The house itself is gorgeous, with brick arches everywhere and a feeling of openness typical to this warm-weathered country. The back yard has a serious pool, some hammocks, an outdoors sitting area, and it opens right onto a beautiful sandy beach that is essentially private. There are palm trees everywhere in front of and behind his house, and his maid's family has done a fabulous job with the upkeep of it all.
Needless to say, the next day or so was extremely relaxing. Even though the electricity was out for a good amount of time during our stay, the people were great and we had a good time anyway. We swam in the ocean, chatted late into the night, read and napped in the hammocks, and drank many a coconut's juice. Geoff also went running in the morning with Brian along the beach, and even played a song or two on Eric's guitar for everyone! It was really a beautiful time. :)
After we got back from the beach house, Geoff and I finally set up a sort of bare-bones "entertainment system" for ourselves at home. We can download movies off of BitTorrent fairly easily, and then if we hook the computer up to our mini stereo-radio-thing, then we can watch movies in our bedroom. Hurray! We spent a lazy Sunday cooking, drinking, swimming, listening to Spanish lessons, and watching movies... I highly recommend He's Just Not That Into You, a decidedly gender-neutral flick. ;) (No, seriously -- Geoff liked it a lot, too.)
It's looking like I'll have to go out and purchase some practical things this week, including short-sleeved work shirts and a battery-powered alarm clock. This morning, our power was out, and if that had happened on a school day, my plugged-in radio alarm wouldn't have worked, and I would have surely been late to school. That's a Must Fix! :(
We're learning to cope with the unreliable infrastructure here, slowly but surely. This is the third time in less than 3 weeks that we have experienced power outage -- each time in a different setting -- so there is a good chance that this is a common occurrence around here. Along with the electricity goes the water, since the water we use is pumped from underground somewhere. Just have to learn to roll with the punches, that's all.