Saturday, November 14, 2009


Geoff's visa app finally got approved yesterday! yay! I cannot tell you how long and grueling this process has been. We had started it months before moving here, but he actually had to go back to the States to gather additional paperwork in September, because his lawyer had been unclear about which papers were needed the first time around. (It was v. fortunate that this trip coincided with M&M's wedding, so he could just extend the wedding trip to take care of the stuff instead of making a separate trip just for the sake of gathering papers...)

The problem is that he currently lives here on 90-day tourist visas only, and every time he exits the country (to go to even a neighboring country for a short trip), he would have to go back to the States to obtain all of those docs again; the docs required need to be date-stamped around his latest entry to El Salvador.

He and his lawyers had been down to the immigration offices several times, and each time they would ask him to obtain more paperwork, mostly from the States. It would take weeks to pull together and get mailed here, and the process would repeat itself. Finally, yesterday his stars were all aligned, and they accepted his application! yay! (It actually helped out that I am working for the American school, because apparently my work visa is issued by a higher authority -- something like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs -- and so it helped legitimize both his overall application and his particular reason to wish to stay in El Salvador.) It still was a pain and took a whole day, but at least for now they've accepted his money and taken his picture, so we think it's going to be all good. :)

So, in celebration, we took his lawyer's assistant out to dinner. It was good times, and the steaks we had were amazing... :) Afterwards, Geoff and I were both feeling serious food coma, so we called it a quiet Friday night. We watched "Changeling" at home, which is really intense! Much better than what we had expected based on its RottenTomatoes ratings. I would definitely recommend it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Rain Damage in El Salvador

As some of you may have heard or read in the news, well over a hundred lives were lost last weekend in El Salvador as a result of the flooding and landslides caused by the heavy rain. Basically, the poor of the country cannot afford to live in areas that are well-insulated from weathering elements, and many of them resort to living in potential landslide areas. While people were still sleeping on early Sunday, the rain grew very heavy and buried entire houses or townships under the mud. It has been several days, and the death tolls are still rising steadily as they search for the missing people.

Even areas near lakes and the ocean were severely impacted. A country club that Geoff and I had only very recently visited near Lago de Ilopango was completely destroyed. One of my friends who lives by the beach said that although her particular area (El Tunco) is fine, just down the street (within about a 15-minute drive), other people had to swim to get out of the shoulder-high muddy water. Those people lost their homes and all of their clothes and their belongings in the flood. The situation is very sad, because I am not sure whether there is a plan yet for helping the people rebuild their homes, beyond providing them with immediate relief. One of the American teacher's maid lost her nephew, her nephew's wife, and their 7-year-old child in the flood. Her own home is destroyed as well, but her family's lives were spared as they had been staying with her sister for the weekend.

The irony is that our lives, for the most part, were relatively unaffected by the rain. Geoff and I were out late last Saturday at the Marine Birthday Ball held by the US Embassy, and didn't get home until about 5am Sunday. Sure, it was raining for a good amount of the time, but we had no idea the extent of damage that the rain had done to other people's lives until we woke up with a slight hangover and read the news Sunday afternoon. It's just another example of the vast disparity between the social classes here in El Salvador...

Please keep El Salvador's victims in your prayers. If you wish to help out in some way financially, Tim's blog post lists some options for donations at the bottom.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Beach and Halloween weekends

It has been two weekends since Andrea's Oktoberfest party. True to our words, Geoff and I rented a car and planned to get away last weekend. It happened to be an international surf competition weekend in El Tunco, so the beach town was particularly lively with activities throughout the night. Greg came along, and at the beach we ran into Brad and Dave (who go down there every chance they get, to surf). Dave decided to share our small cabin and to stick around overnight to party, so the four of us spent the weekend eating a lot of yummy tacos and burritos, and relaxing by the lovely beach. :) Dave also took Geoff out to surf on the ocean, and the boys stayed out on the water until dark. The weekend was so relaxing, it was exactly what we had been missing...

This past weekend was a long weekend down here in El Salvador. Coinciding with Halloween is All Saints' Day or All Souls' Day, when the locals celebrate family members who have passed, as well as all of the Catholic saints. So, we got Monday off as a holiday. Since there were some talks of going out for Halloween, Geoff and I decided to stick around to take part in the celebrations. On Saturday night, we donned our home-made costumes, and headed out on the town. (I was "Comma Sutra", and Geoff was a guy with a cup-"telephone" connecting him to his penis, wearing a shirt that said, "Who Says Men Don't Listen?") We started at Zanzibar and met some pretty nice folks who were Jon's friends, and then we went with Andrea and her friends to Alambique (spelling) at the Multi-Plaza. We danced there for a long time, and the boys split a bottle of vodka -- it was a pretty fierce drinking night, for them anyway. By the time we all rolled out of there, it was about 2:30am.

Sunday night was pretty chill. In fact, we slept in on Sunday for much of the day. :) Geoff and I had planned on inviting a few people over for dinner (our first dinner party!), so as soon as we woke up from our hangover nap, we had to get rolling on purchasing supplies and cooking. I wanted to cook Chinese food, but none of our friends eats very spicy foods and one of our friends is vegetarian, so Geoff and I brainstormed some options that would meet everyone's dietary preferences. In the end, we cooked: stirfried eggplant; tofu in spicy bean sauce; mushrooms with garlic; and "three-cup" chicken drumsticks. Geoff also made capirinas for everyone, which tasted fresh and amazing. :) After dinner, we set up a projector (brought over by one of our friends) and watched Cidade de Deus, which was fantastic.

All in all, it has been a couple of beautiful weekends! Next week will be the Marine ball, which is a black-tie event held by the US Embassy, including dinner and dancing. I'm thrilled about it! I love playing dress-up. :)


PS. We bought a car! yay! We're keeping our fingers crossed that there won't be major repairs necessary. So far, we've only found very minor issues with the car, but we're taking it to the mechanic on Monday to get them examined more thoroughly.