Thursday, July 23, 2009

Zones, Roads, and Mail

The country of El Salvador is divided into 14 departamentos, or states. Within each state are many cities, or ciudads. Geoff and I reside in the city of San Salvador, which is also located in the state of San Salvador. This city is the capital city of the country, but even within it there appears to be a vast disparity in wealth. The city further subdivides into zonas, or zones. Our apartment is in Colonia de San Benito, which -- depending on whom you ask -- is either itself a tiny zone spanning a few blocks in diameter, or is embedded in a bigger zone (Zona Rosa). In any case, we finally got some sort of address for the apartment when we signed the lease, but even without it, our mattress delivery guys had figured out where to find us based only on the zone information and the building name. Because the city is so small and compact, things are easy to find here and addresses are not too specific.

That said, we still need to test out our address before we set up permanent mail-forwarding from the States. Geoff has been doing a good amount of research, and it looks like we can either get a service that scans in our mail, or one that forwards them periodically without examining the mail. I think we are going with the latter. For now, all of our mail is sent to and held by Geoff's parents in New Jersey.


Speaking of geography, trying to find a good city map here has been nearly impossible, and I have just about given up on the notion altogether. A free map that we got from a local restaurateur has turned out to be the best thus far. It highlights the roundabouts and major streets, even though it does unfortunately omit certain smaller streets. The roundabouts are important, because here you are very restricted in where you can make left turns. I would say maybe one out of every 6 or 7 streets allows left turns, and -- because the streets themselves curve -- before you know it, you are already going in the wrong direction altogether. The roundabouts are useful in allowing you to make all kinds of turns. Another traffic peculiarity here is that when you come to an intersection of two major streets, where there is no roundabout there is often a road bridge that raises the traffic from one road to be above the other. This avoids unnecessary waiting at the intersection, and is actually very useful, if you're familiar enough with the roads to anticipate the intersection. Their labeling of the roads is different from that of the States. When I get a chance, I'll take a picture. Geoff and I had a wild ride on the first day, trying to figure out what those signs mean and where we were on the map...

But, all is well. :) Still missing internet and phone services, but for now Geoff and I are stealing wireless bandwidth from our neighbor, so things are OK. I also miss dancing, but until we buy a car and are able to get out more regularly, my assignment for myself is to expand my jazz collection and jazz knowledge. It's something I had always wanted to do, but hadn't had time for. If you have killer jazz playlists, please do send them my way. :) Adios!

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