Ok, this blog is getting away from me again. The past couple weeks have been pretty normal, schedule-wise, but some excitement is on the way.
Ismael and I did go to the rodeo the Sunday before last. They apparently have professional bull-riding teams across the country to compete in such rodeos. I had no idea. So we watched the rides, the rodeo singers, a transvestite rodeo clown (which is pretty scandalous in El Salvador), and some non-professionals on the mechanical bull. All in all, we had fun and it was good to get out of town for a day.
We also took care of a request from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services office for additional evidence that I have been to El Salvador recently. They now have received that information and say they are continuing with processing our case, so that is good news. We hope to hear from them by the end of next month in order to proceed to the Embassy with our visa request.
Here in town, I have taken it upon myself to start the inventory of the donated books that will be the school’s library. It’s pretty tedious work opening up all of the boxes, recording each book’s information, and stamping and numbering each one…especially when I am doing the work by myself right now. The important thing in my opinion, however, is that we have a record of the books and that each one is marked as property of the school so that no one walks off with any of the donations. I have made it through about 250 of what I estimate to be nearly 800 books in total. Once the initial inventory is finished there will be plenty of work to categorize, card catalog, and prepare a check-out system in order for the library to get up and running. Luckily, I will be getting a new volunteer in my town in about two weeks who can help to organize this project and the students who will be helping out as the library committee.
Continuing with work…I mentioned before that the Partnership grant (to which many of you have donated!) has received the full amount of funding. That check is now here and I will be picking it up on Monday from the Peace Corps office. The mayor and I went to the bank yesterday to open an account for the administration of this grant. For security purposes, we have to use a joint account and two signatures are required for all monetary transactions. The mayor is my co-signatory in this case and in order for him to open an account at the bank (as a politically involved person) we need a special permission from the bank’s headquarters. Basically that means we sat at the bank for three hours and were still not able to open this account. I do not believe that such rules exist for politicians opening bank accounts in the USA, but maybe I am just not aware of it. We will return on Tuesday, once the permission comes through, to open the account and deposit the check so we can get to work.
Finally, the soccer field project is also picking up momentum. We were able to open an account in my name yesterday for this project (as I am the sole signatory). Hopefully the money will be transferred sometime next week so we can get the construction under way. The big news, however, is that the Embassy is coming in all of their glory on May 13 for a big soccer event. A group of professional soccer players from the states will be in El Salvador at the time, and so will also be a part of that event. The idea is for the ambassador to attend, but with his busy schedule we are still not sure. I was informed this morning that the crew (embassy reps, soccer players, and Peace Corps staff) will come in the morning to set up and have a press conference. Then we will have lunch and a time for rest before a two hour soccer clinic with 100 kids from the area. So in the end it should be a pretty large-scale event. Getting the kids involved is always fun, though, and they will really enjoy it. It will also be nice to get some publicity for the town because such an event involving the Embassy is guaranteed to bring out the news crews.
Outside of work, I have some activities coming up to get myself out of town. On Sunday, the town hall is sponsoring a town field trip to the beach. All of El Salvador is relatively close to the beach, but somehow I have not made it to the coast this past year; so I will be taking advantage of that opportunity. I will be staying in San Salvador for a meeting on Monday morning with the Embassy regarding the soccer field project followed by lunch with Ismael. Then, in the afternoon, some friends and I are headed dress shopping for a friend of mine who will be getting married here in July. The following weekend (a week from tomorrow actually), Ismael will be coming home to visit. The following week the new volunteers are sworn in and sent out to their communities, so I am headed back to the capital for that celebration. At that point a new volunteer will be arriving to San Luis, so I will have a chance to show them around and get them involved on some of the projects we have started. Finally, in preparation for my departure from the country, my Peace Corps group has a three day conference at the beach to go over our exit plan (or basically all that needs to happen to wrap up our two years of service before we can go home).
So all of that will take me well into May…and the time just keeps rolling by.