What a fabulous trip we just had. Todd explained our absence from the blog and it was so worth it all. The visit with the families went way too fast. I can’t believe it was almost 10days. Now, we are recuperating in San Salvador. Jeanne’s friends daughter, Meg, was gracious enough to offer us a place to stay while we are in San Salvador. It is definitely making the transition much easier. We are planning and preparing a thank you feast for this evening.
After a great time with the Mosier clan we headed to KC. I must say that I feel so blessed to have such a wonderful family, that includes you Mosiers. I love just coming home to my folks place and being able to cook with the my mom and sisters. Even if dinner isn’t ready at the conventional 7pm, more like 9:30, we eventually all get to sit down together. After dinner,to Todd’s dismay I made the whole family watch home videos one night. We hunkered down in my folks room keeping our fingers crossed that the 20year old VCR would work. Colleen made a little bed on the floor and we were time warped back to 1988. I felt bad we didn’t find any with Ms. Marsa but when we go back I will look a little harder. I am pretty sure ’88 was the year we got the camera because every tape seemed to revolve around this 365day period. And the cinematography, thanks dad, was very detailed. So we watched as little Colly entertained us with her many tactics, I, apparently at a camera shy period ignored her like any older sister would, dad rarely appeared, and mom gave the audience small windows of smiling camera time. It was great!
Thursday night has traditionally been an evening where all our River market buddies get together. Now, the group has expanded to include all that want to play on Thursday nights; the more the merrier. So, Thursday night the folks offered up the house for a casual bbq. Agreat atmosphere for us all to chill, drink some beer, eat too much food, and enjoy each others company. I for one made sure to eat more then my share of rice krispy treats. Damn they were good! It was wonderful to see everyone.
And then we were gone again. It was a superfast trip and an unexpected surprise to be able to return to the states. Before we knew it, we were off to Chicago. Our flight to San Salvador left at the wee hour of 5:40am on Saturday morning so we figured we would just recheck our bags and pass the time at O’Hare. Well, turns out the Delta ticket counter was closed at 8pm on a Friday night. Business must not be booming. Now, here we were with all our junk, stuck at the airport without any of the nice amenities you find within, for 8hours. Luckily, my mom sent us with plenty of food. So we walked, looking for options. We quickly realized that the option was to wait until the counter reopened at 4:10am. I found a cart, we loaded it up and off to the Hilton bar we went, airport cart and all. We had a couple of beers, one compliments of a guy who was enthralled with our travels. He apparently used to travel with the army, reminiscing I guess.
After passing a good couple of hours we headed back to the arrival area to find sleeping accommodations. I was willing to settle for two chairs together without an armrest but with Todd’s diligence we found 5 chairs together without armrests. Who needs the Hilton?! We strapped the luggage to the chairs and quickly passed out. Obviously, not the nights best sleep. We woke up to find a line at the Delta counter. To wrap this up, a lot of dumb people in lines later, a cup of coffee and a McDonald’s breakfast sandwich for Todd later we were on our way to San Salvador via Atlanta.
We had such a wonderful time in the states, but it is nice to be back on the road. I guess you just get into a routine. So far, San Salvador is much nicer then other capital cities we have been too. A lot more trees and a lot less concrete. Tomorrow we are going to go explore some museums and the market and then we are off to meet Ryan in Managua, Nicaragua. Very excited for that (not the 12hour bus ride though.) Today, more relaxation. You all wore us out in the states.
What happened to us? I know, I know, it’s so confusing. But there was a good reason for the long silence. It was my sister’s 30th birthday!!! We were coming up to surprise her in Chicago, and given that she reads the blog religiously (right, Lisa?) we couldn’t put anything about it here or on facebook, which meant a period of silence. It was tough to keep, especially since Honduras suddenly popped up on the world news scene because of the coup. We wanted nothing more than to write about how we got stuck in Tegu during the protests that were making world news, but as everyone knows, birthdays trump coups. But now we can write about it. I’ve got almost 10 days to make up, so this might be a little long, or I’ll just fly through some parts of it.
We left you on June 25th, really. We spent the next day visiting the guerrilla camp that was used during the El Salvador revolution that lasted from about 1980 until 1992. I walked in without really knowing much about it, just that the US was somehow involved in supporting the government in their fight against the FMLN and other resistance groups. I had heard about the Mozote massacre, and also about Oscar Romero, the Archbishop who was killed during the war, but it was a shallow understanding. I understand more about it now, but it becomes more and more confusing as I continue to learn and research it. We saw the building where Radio Venceremos was located, the bomb craters around it, the anti-aircraft artillery used to defend the very town we were staying in. Considering that the war only ended 18 years ago, it was strange to be in such a tranquil and wonderful place.
The day after that, we walked about 2 hours to get to El Mozote, where an unknown number of people were killed by the national military. There was one known survivor, Rufina Amaya, who had recently died and was buried in the memorial with the victims. It was a small memorial, but a beautiful one. The names of the dead were listed on the wall, and we thought that was actually it, but on the side of the church they had made a separate memorial to the children, listing the names and ages. An entire side of the church was taken up by children, most younger than 5 years old, some as young as 2 or 3 days. They had taken some blood soaked clay tiles from the area of the massacre and placed them over the communal grave. The children’s memorial includes a wonderful mural that would seem perfectly normal in a schoolyard. Bright colors, rainbows, sunshine, kids playing. It was heartbreaking to see it seemingly displaced in such a somber location. The heartlessness of the massacre hits you square in the face as you walk through the area, simply in awe at the fact that they killed the entire town, leaving the buildings and crops burnt to the ground and a sign saying that this was what any people supporting the resistance would receive. It was part of the policy to “take the water away from the fish.” It was a very emotional trip, one of the most difficult of all the things we’ve seen so far. The return hike was very quiet.
Sunday the 28th, we left Perquin for Marcala. We had to get back to Tegu in order to catch our flight to Chicago on the 2nd. We had some uncertainties about our legal status, given our lack of El Salvador visa or stamp, as well as Honduran stamp, so when the border official asked us to come into his office, we were more than a bit put off. But luckily, he was only warning us that the Honduran government had issued an official recommendation for foreigners to stay out of the country. This was the day the Honduran army took the sitting president, Zelaya, to Costa Rica. We didn’t really know what to do, what to think. We were very much surprised by this, to say the least. But they said that the country was calm and quiet, there was no violence going on, but that we were simply being warned of the official recommendation. So we continued on, deciding that we would go into Marcala, check out the internet, see what was happening and decide from there if we needed to turn around.
We got to the hotel we had stayed at on our previous pass through Marcala, turned on the TV, and watched the president be officially removed from his post, the president of the congress made provisional president of the country, the supreme court ratify the decision, and watched the US get beat by Brazil 3-2. It was a sad day, as we really didn’t know what to do. There were times when foreign news channels, such as CNN and Fox News, were cut out completely. CNN suddenly became the Cartoon Network (literally). I highly doubt that was a coincidence.
But we talked with different people, read the embassy warning, the travel alerts, followed CNN and decided that the best thing to do would be to keep the ticket and head to Tegu. Being the capital city, embassy services were available to us in case of emergency as well as an airport to leave. So we checked into our chinese hotel with a chinese restaurant below and free internet. We figured if we were going to be locked up in a city under siege or having protests on the streets, we could at least cruise the internet while munching on some delicious fried wantons. We paid an extra fee for the TV. It was our second anniversary, after all. Might as well go all out.
So we called my folks, changed our ticket to a day ahead of normal, called Erin’s folks, told them all that it was safe, which it was. We may have told them that we would “hunker down” and stay out of trouble. We clearly managed to stay out of trouble, but it was our anniversary, and we wanted something good to eat. Something special. What was so special? Pizza Hut. Yes, our second anniversary lunch was at a Pizza Hut in Tegucigalpa, with the protection bars still down. We figured that the protesters would never attack the Pizza Hut since it was filled with protesters chowing down on the all-you-could-eat salad bar. Just didn’t seem likely.
Unfortunately or fortunately depending on your perspective, in order to get to and from the Pizza Hut, we had to pass through the protest in the central park. So we may have hunkered down a little bit less than our parents would have liked, but I mean, come on, we’re in the middle of a coup that we watched on live TV. I don’t think I could have held my head high if I didn’t at least take a look. We were actually watching live TV on CNN of something happening right where we were at. The TV made it look very scary and dangerous. Walking on the street made you think you were in a normal town. I’ve seen protests at the University of Texas that were more exciting. But the riot gear and national army isn’t usually rolled out for those protests, so that clearly added an additional level of intensity.
After our excursion onto the streets of the coup, we stayed in our hotel, bored out of our minds. We watched bad movies, cruised the internet (including people.com and tmz.com, if that tells you how bored we were), ordered some wantons, and hung out in our room until the next day when we flew out. The flight was pretty normal. So additional security, but nothing exciting. The british or american ambassador was sending his family somewhere, so there were some news camaras following him, but by then Michael Jackson had died, so CNN didn’t really care anymore about Honduras. It was just local news again, it seemed.
We spent the night with my Aunt Suzie and Uncle Gary in Beloit, Wisconsin. The next day we surprised my grandma, my parents came in and we all had a wonderful meal together. Then we headed off to Crystal Lake, where we surprised my sister for the big three-oh. She seemed actually surprised, which is awesome. (Thanks to everyone for not ruining the secret.) Apparently she had suspected something, but then didn’t, so it worked out perfectly. We had a great weekend at Derek’s uncle’s lake house, cooking some food, swimming, playing cards, chatting, blowing up fireworks on a plastic dock that probably doesn’t look the same now. (Sorry.) Erin and I were very excited to have a traditional Fourth of July in full American style and it came through with flying colors and a 41 gun salute. I couldn’t have been happier to drink Miller High Life.
On our way back to Beloit from the lake, we passed by another of Derek’s family’s lake house (still not sure exactly who owns it, but it was the tallish guy with the red baseball hat on.) Lisa got to eat her 4th or 5th birthday cake of the week, this time sharing it with Derek’s 91 year old grandfather. She ate it like it was her first cake in 10 years. Well done, sis.
Back to Beloit, we just chilled out for awhile on the old mink ranch. We managed to get a round of golf in with the family, which was great. I tried to make Derek a little less nervous by duffing my first two shots pretty hard. It was all on purpose, I promise.
Then on Tuesday, we took off for Kansas City. We’ve spent the last couple of days relaxing here, seeing some friends, doing laundry, getting things sorted out. It’s amazing how many things there are to do. Absolutely amazing. We leave tomorrow for Chicago, where we’ll spend the night in the airport so we can catch our 5am flight to San Salvador. Ryan’s leaving in 7 days to meet us in Managua, Nicaragua, so we’ll have to book it pretty fast to get down there. Not a problem, but we’ll be moving pretty fast for a bit. I actually called Ryan today to get things sorted out, and he was floored I was in KC. Apparently there has been a where-are-the-mosiers contest going on between him and Cecilia. Sorry for the confusion, but I’d love to know who won.
Tonight is a small party for the friends, and we’re really looking forward to spending our last night in american comfort. The mattresses, pillows, towels and toilet paper are just so wonderfully soft.
Holiday has been fun. It’s nice for things to quiet down after a few weeks of very busy travel plans including a wedding and Christmas. It gives me a little bit of time to actually think about everything and take it in rather than sprinting around just trying to keep up. Seeing friends and family is great and I’m enjoying getting back together with everyone. Erin is bursting at the seams to get up to Montana and hang with her “ladies”.
But it is very strange to come back to the states. After being in Africa, we got used to the laid back attitude. We’ve talked about the term T.I.A., as in “This Is Africa”, which explains nothing but is used to convey the idea that anything goes. We would drive around and see a Land Rover with the parents inside and the kids sitting on top of the luggage rack. We stopped even being surprised at things like that. It became normal. We bought a bike without having a license to drive one. It’s a liberating feeling to know that you can pretty much do anything you like. It’s also a bit frightening because anyone else can as well. The laws of the land are more like suggestions than rules. This attitude is one of the reasons that I found Africa so engaging and am having difficulty feeling at home here.
It’s very difficult to put into words. It’s almost sterile. The level of order and cleanliness is astounding. There’s soap in the bathroom and people clean up after themselves. Nobody throws trash out the windows. If you have some business with the government, it takes hours instead of weeks. Cars provide huge amounts of space between themselves and the next car. You can get a good cup of coffee almost anywhere. People expect you to change clothes daily and be stylish. These seem like random observations and they are, but I can’t help feeling that they for some reason point toward the heart of the matter. Grocery stores have amazing selections of everything. These are things that I forget to appreciate when I’m here.
I guess I have to leave in order to remember that the US provides a ridiculously nice life for it’s people. There is always room for improvement, certainly, but when you compare our lives to the rest of the world, it’s not a comparison. There are explanations that people throw out about history and conflict, natural resources and cultural biases. These are true in various forms, but they create a barrier between the emotional understanding of our high standard of living and their low. Maybe that’s part of the reason I have an uneasy feeling, because I don’t feel that people know enough to appreciate it. And that’s okay, but I guess it’s important for me to say that in this time of doom and gloom with things tanking, this is still a really good place to be.
I am sitting at Derek’s kitchen counter watching the snow fall steadily from the sky. We seem to bring the snow whenever we are here. Todd is cooking up lunch part 2 of our detox diet. So far, the sheer thought of detox leads my body into over compulsive food thoughts; pizza, crackers, anything cheese, bread, etc. Really, I am not picky. Actually, the very necessary one day detox, I make it sound like I have been deprived for weeks, was Lisa’s idea and the food has proven to be delicious. Lunch part 1 was a great kale, arugula, olive, cilantro, tomato, avocado, lime, radish salad. Odd combo but it hit the spot.
So last night we returned from a fabulous weekend in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The best lady, Elizabeth, from our wedding got married. I was under my own misinformed opinion that Santa Fe would provide the sunshine and warmth my body so desperately wants. Well, I finally looked at a map before our 14 hour New Year’s Day drive south and to my amazement, you can ski in Santa Fe. Not the tropical paradise I must have dreamt about. Cold weather loomed but at least the sun caught my que and joined us everyday. That was my first trip to Santa Fe and what a cute town it is. We ate tons of Mexican food, to our stomachs delight. A year of Mexican food cravings left us in a glutenous state. Hence, current detox.
The wedding was great. Jenny and Elizabeth looked absolutely stunning. They created a beautiful atmosphere for the ceremony and reception. Elizabeth, if you read this I think the twigs looked great. Their minister was awesome. The way she interperted the readings and the idea of marriage was so welcoming and refreshing. She actually acknowledged the fact of needing seperate lives to maintain a good parternship. Brilliant!
I must say, it was nice being on the opposite side of the wedding scene. Especially, since it was the same sort of destination scenario as ours. It was nice to sit back and not worry about a thing. Enjoy the company of new friends and drink more wine then I will admit.
So far, our time in the US has been great. Busy but great. We are off to do a little cross country skiing and then I really need to finalize plans to Montana.