Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Departure date!

We finally have a projected date of departure: July 15! --Or at least, that is when I will be leaving; hopefully Geoff will be able to book a flight on that same day as well. :) The rest of the new international staffers will be arriving around July 23, which means that we have roughly one extra week to find an apartment and to settle in before my orientation starts.

In other news, Geoff has sent out evites for our goodbye party, which will be on the last Saturday of June. Seeing that both Geoff and I are playing-by-ear types, I am truly amazed by how early these are going out, but his mom -- the hostess of hostesses -- had been anxious about not knowing how many people will be in attendance, so some parental pressure was definitely involved in making this early evitation happen. :) I don't know how many New Yorkers are going to trek out to Jersey to party with us, but it is going to be a good time regardless! At the Coxes', drinks are always flowing merrily...

Translation: I'm going to throw up on someone's foot, and my boyfriend is going to piss on my leg. Just sayin'.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Geoff's mini-move

We are inching toward the big move! Geoff's old lease is expiring, so he is moving into an interim apartment down in the West Village, for a few months. We are both very excited about this, because it is a very hip neighborhood, and his mini-move coincides with (hopefully) beautiful weather to come! Since I had been out of town for over a week, I finally got to see his new place this weekend. We have been eating out the last day or so, and we hit up a cool bar last night. The plan is to really enjoy our last few months in this beautiful city. :)

On the serious end of moving logistics, Geoff is going to try to pare down his belongings by the end of this month -- by the time his old lease officially expires. By then, most of his things will either have been given away, or been stored away at his parents' place. In late June, we will do another trip to New Jersey to stow the rest of our stuff. (His parents have very kindly offered up storage space for both of us! And, his mom is also excited to throw a going-away party for us in late June.) :)

Hopefully, by the next time I update, I'll have more info about when we will actually be leaving the city. It is like pulling teeth trying to get the flight dates nailed. Ugh. Seriously.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Things I have read

Being a web nerd, I have been reading and re-reading all types of information about El Salvador on the internet. I have also been reading information from my future coworkers, and briefly corresponding with a girl who will be working with me, and who had lived there for a while. Some of the things I have heard are conflicting opinions, as one might expect. But anyway, here is the list. It is not really in order, but I think all of these facts taken together paint a pretty good picture of our future home:

  • Surfing in El Salvador is considered some of the best! Besides surfing, there will also be amazing volcanoes to climb, parks to explore, and little villages to check out.
  • The country has over 20 volcanoes. Izalco, one of the most famous, was so active through the 1950s that its lava could be seen at night, and it was dubbed the "Lighthouse of the Pacific."
  • In parts of El Salvador, you can try things like picking coffee, making chocolate, dying indigo, etc.
  • Salvadorans like to party! They get very dressed up when they go out, and the clubs stay open until early morning. Since the clubs do not have age limits, I might very well run into my high-school students at the clubs from time to time.
  • The best clubs in San Salvador are Code in the Zona Rosa and Envy and Stanza in the Multi-plaza, which is a big mall with resturants and these clubs all on one floor. Envy even has a roof that opens up.
  • Like any big city, San Salvador has its unsafe parts. Soyopango is the area of gang activity, which travelers are advised to avoid, even during the day. Knowing that Geoff and I both stick out like sore thumbs in Central America, this may not be the best area for us to linger in. Otherwise, as long as we stay alert and do not show off by speaking English and wearing jewelry, we should be fine.
  • According to a Salvadoran co-worker of mine, there are quite a few international students in San Salvador.
  • The civil war ended in 1992, but it unofficially continued for a few years. Both sides (government and the guerrillas) went into schools to recruit or kill (dissenting) boys.
  • Temperature in San Salvador varies from 38 degrees to 19 degrees Celsius year round. In Fahrenheit, that is between a sweltering 100 degrees and a comfortable 66 degrees!
  • In the city of San Salvador, there are street names, but most Salvadorans do not even know what they are. Buildings and gates are rarely numbered, so looking for a place by its address is tough.
  • Even though the roads of San Salvador are not very pedestrian-friendly, people still walk regularly to get around, sometimes alongside cars.
  • Security in El Salvador is less "high-tech" and more visible than security measures in the States. For example, instead of having security cameras near an ATM, you may very well see an armed guard standing next to the machine.
  • Even though "armed guards" can be commonly seen at gas stations and various public places, I have read that, oftentimes, the guards are merely old people holding empty guns. They pose no real threat, but are mostly a formality to provide a sense of security for the everyday Salvadoran.
  • The recent election of a leftist president ended two decades of conservative rule. Mauricio Funes is to take office in June 2009, and has stated improving relations with Central American countries and with the U.S. as his focus of foreign policy.
  • Minor earthquakes are pretty common down there. The last big one happened back in 2001, claiming more than 800 lives. Besides earthquakes, the country's location also makes it susceptible to severe rainstorms and droughts. The last major drought in 2005 had wiped out 80% of the country's crops.
  • English movies are available in San Salvador, with Spanish subtitles. The theaters charge between $2.75 and $3 per person -- a price I have not heard of since the 90s!
  • Most used cars available are wrecked cars from the States, with at least one airbag missing. Non-wrecked cars can cost a good amount of money. Even busses that run in El Salvador are often old school busses from the U.S. that were revamped to serve as public transit down there. They cost less than $1 to ride.
  • Maids are available pretty cheaply, and it is almost expected that American teachers hire these local ladies at least a couple of days a week to do laundry and to clean. It is seen not as a showy gesture, but rather, a way of contributing to the local community in offering stable employment. Getting a maid to come for a full day costs a little more than $10.
  • You can get a nice two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in a nice area of San Salvador, for somewhere between $800 and $900. --To put this in perspective, that is less than Geoff and I individually pay right now in NYC, to live in shared apartments!
  • Things that will be very expensive down there include contact lens supplies and computers. Asian cooking supplies should be pretty accessible.
  • One notable Salvadoran dish is the pupusa. I recently tried it in the Bronx, and it was yum! :)

Whew! That's it. Information keeps trickling in, slowly. This is all I know, for now. Hasta luego! :)