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My El Salvador Experience

Adeline (middle) with her cousins

This past January I visited my dad's family in Central America. My whole family went, which includes my parents, my two younger brothers Kaeser and Lizak, and Evalie, my little sister. We spent four weeks in the country of El Salvador, and although it is very different we had lots of fun.

My grandparents live in a small village. My grandparents’ home is different from the houses here in the US. The kitchen and the toilet are in separate buildings. You do almost everything, besides sleeping, outside. You eat, you wash clothes and dishes, and you even visit all outside! Their bathroom is behind the house in a small outhouse and we bathe in a separate enclosed area by dumping cold water over ourselves. One of my many aunts and uncles live right next door. They have four kids so we always had playmates! I spent most of my days playing with the cousin that is close to my age, Joselyn.

While I was there I ate a large variety of foods: tortillas, beans, rice, chicken soup, duck soup, pupusas, and green mangoes dipped in salt and alguashte. Alguashte is ground up pumpkin seeds. The duck soup was super good, and the pupusas are part of what makes El Salvador famous. A pupusa is a stuffed corn tortilla served with a cabbage slaw and mild tomato sauce. They can be filled with many things but my favorite is beans and cheese. Delicious! My grandma often made rice with milk, sugar, and cinnamon sticks. We call it “ arroz con leche”. We had to buy milk from a neighbor down the road because my grandpa's cows weren't giving enough milk at the time and the village doesn't have a supermarket. Another treat that we made were some popsicle-like things called “topoios”. They can be made with milk or fruit. This trip we use blended pineapple or blended coconut. They are frozen in little bags that you chew one corner off and enjoy. Yum! Sometimes I think that Salvadorian food is even better than what we have in the US.

One thing that I got to do while in El Salvador was go to school with my brother Kaeser and my cousin Joselyn. You walk about a half a mile to get there. As we were walking to school the first day I started to get nervous. But when we were introduced to the teacher, I thought “I really like her, the classroom and the girls here. This is going to be so much fun.”All the kids were so nice. At least most of them were. There were some boys that were a little bit awkward. We went to the third grade with my cousin, although I was in the fourth grade and Kaeser was in second. Most of my free time at school was spent with Joselyn and about seven other girls. Thankfully, I could understand everything that the teacher was saying. By the way, knowing Spanish comes in handy if you want to go to El Salvador. I also learned that they keep the gates locked once all the kids get there, so that no one comes and takes a kid that they shouldn't take. Another reason they keep the gates locked is so that a student doesn't go out and get lost. I think the people down there are pretty smart. Their school starts in January and ends in late October. Most teachers teach two grades, one grade in the morning and another in the afternoon. We went mornings from 7 a.m. till 11:30 a.m.

Not only did I go to school and eat different foods, I also had a good time with animals. My grandpa has a horse that we called “yegua” which simply means “mare”. He also has about six or seven cows that Lizak and my dad took out to the fields almost every morning. My grandma raises chickens that they eat, and to get eggs from. My aunt has two dogs and my grandma has two cats and a dog. Another thing that was different in the culture there, is that although they own animals, they don't treat them like pets or part of the family like we do. My cousins decided to kill four kittens that the mama cat had while we were there. They didn't want them because my grandma already had two cats. When my older cousin, Will, said that they were going to kill the kittens, I went to the room that we slept in and cried. I get attached to animals quickly and I loved those kittens like they were my very own. Will ended up killing two of the kittens, but the mother cat somehow found the other two and brought them back to the house. The rest aren’t alive anymore, but I like to imagine that they were my kittens and I brought them home to the US.

I went a lot of places with my cousins. We went to the mill to mill corn, to Sunday school down the road, and to the store to buy snacks. Their stores are just odds and ends that people bring from the city to resell out of their own little homes. A favorite place was going to the ocean with all the family. I had such a great time there in El Salvador, with my family that I rarely get to see. It was a great place to explore how people lived in different ways, because they live so differently compared to us. Although I was sad to leave, and it was a long way home, I found I miss the normal, sometimes crazy life here with everyone in the U. S. A.

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