Saturday, March 12, 2011

Back in Action

It's been a while since I've had a post, but fear not -- I'm still here.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I spent about 2 months in the States, returning to El Salvador on January 13th.  I am thankful that my job was understanding of my situation, and that I was able to take off a significant portion of that time to help care for my mom.  She's doing great!  If you're bored, you can read all about it on the blog.

The day after I returned to El Salvador, we had our next guests - Kate & Marshall.  Marshall and I went surfing, although surfing is a pretty loose term -- let's just say that we had surfboards.  It has been amazing the changes that we've seen in the beach as the seasons change.  When we arrived 10 months ago, the beach was completely rocky - hardly any sand.  Now it's nice and sandy, like a 'normal' beach.  The next day, we went to Juayua for their weekly food festival.  Good food, loud music, lots of people... and Reptilandia.  For $0.50, we weren't expecting much, but they had a good number of different snakes and other reptiles, including a few giant burmese pythons.  Sophie even held one, which she enjoyed until the snake looked at her, giving her a "you know I can eat you" look.  That night, we were expecting to eat at one of the delicious restaurants in San Salvador, but since it was a Sunday, we were forced to eat at a place in La Gran Via.  Marshall and I made the wise decision to order the girafa, which is Spanish for "giant, clear plastic tube with a spout and filled with beer."  ¡Qué chivo!  After hanging out with us for a few days, Kate and Marshall continued their vacation by spending a few days in Costa Rica.  Little did I know that this would be the last time I would see the two of them before their engagement.  How exciting!
That's right -- he's got a board
No caption needed, really
The next few weeks were more of the usual.  One weekend we went ziplining with some friends near El Boquerón.  Pretty sweet.  It felt good to get back into the swing of my 'normal' life here in El Salvador.  At work, we finally released work that my team had been working on since last June, so that was a relief to have done.

Then there was training.  USAID had two weeks of training, which brought people from around the region to El Salvador.  Our good friend Rod from Colombia was one of them.  Sophie, Zaks, and I were planning on doing an adventure race at the Bahia de Jiquilisco, and I somehow convinced Rod to get his flight changed to get into El Salvador on Saturday, so that he could do the race with us on Sunday.  It was a team race (the same race that I did in the fall), so Rod got put on a team with a bunch of random people.  The race went well, although Rod's team got 4 flats along the way.  ¡Qué pena!

Rod and I went for a road bike ride in the early morning the next week.  We were supposed to ride down to Puerto de la Libertad (the beach) and back, which would have been pretty painful.  However, when the guy who we were going to ride with didn't show up, and I called him and his first words were "Fijese que..." I knew that wasn't happening.  So, Rod and I instead decided to do a ride of our own from Santa Elena to Los Planes.  This was a great idea until I got two flats in the span of probably 3 miles.  After the two flats and the missed connection, we cut our losses and turned back.  After about half a mile, the derailleur on Rod's bike decided to skip into the spokes, forcing us to have to spend 20 minutes trying to bend the thing back so we could finish out the ride.  I was dreading how much it was going to cost to fix the bike, but I took it by the shop anyway.  First I found out that a piece in the derailleur needed to be replaced, then I found out that the drop on the bike (the part of the frame that the derailleur attaches to) was bent.  Being naïve, I immediately thought "new bike."  But, alas, that was not the case.  First the mechanic (the same guy I ride with regularly) pulled out a special tool to bend the drop back.  Then he spent 5-10 minutes searching for parts before coming back with a previously-cannibalized derailleur of the exact same model, and he pulled the necessary parts from there.  ¡Qué suerte!  However, the hub was catching, which meant that he needed to pull off the freewheel and grease it up (at least, I think).  So, when I returned the following day to pick up the bike, I was expecting a bill for probably $50 or so.  Instead, it was $5.  In the States, I would have expected at least $150 to have all of this work done, since I know that I would have also have had to buy a new derailleur.  Rod and I were then able to take the bike out the next week and ride out to the east along a ridge.  The views were stunning, and the climbs were steep.  What a beautiful country I've found myself in!

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