Day two

By James Johnson at August 16, 2005 21:58
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After a good night’s sleep we feel great and ready to do some more exploring and family visits. We head over to Mauricio’s restaurant and are escorted through the Mercado by one of his staff. The drivers are really crazy around here and he is worried we’ll get hit by a car. How this person will protect us from a crazy bus I don’t know, but we humour Mauricio all the same. The Mercado is an open-air produce market where the local farmers come to sell the things they’ve grown. It’s busy and hectic, complete with live chickens for sale.

Carmina’s grandmother and aunt live just off the street. She hasn’t seen them for six years and it’s a happy reunion. Their home is interesting. A heavy wood door from the street leads into a hallway, which opens into a large open-air, partially covered patio. The kitchen is covered but outside, with each of the bedrooms off of the patio. The walls are adobe and in the back of the area is the original house, crumbled now. Carmina grew up in this house and shows us all around.

We happily chat with the family and share our wedding photos with them. There is a lot of energy in here.

Its interesting being in these houses and how they are built to take advantage of the climate. The kitchens are outside to keep the heat from the house. There are no water heaters, only coffee-can sized devices on the showerheads to heat the water as it comes down. Each home has a large, about 200 gallon, plastic container to catch and store rainwater.

On the way back we stop and buy some bananas, a watermelon and a bag of talpajocote. They are very different. A hard green shell covering a sweet tasting, slimy covered seed. The bananas and watermelon are very tasty, better than what we have back in the states. After our visit we go back to the restaurant for lunch, then it’s on to the Chalchuapa, a Mayan pyramid site. Chalchuapa is a small town built right at the foot of the pyramid. It’s a typical town, more of what I was expecting to see here. Because of the earthquake a few years ago, the government closed down the pyramid to tourists, so we have to view it from behind a chain link fence. There is a museum, but it is closed for the day as the town is having a festival. People are walking down the main street dressed in their special clothes going to have fun. We plan to come back on Thursday, when the museum is open, so we can explore some more. Amy, an anthropology major, is excited about coming back.

At the pyramid, we met a couple from Sacramento being guided by a local company. Interestingly enough, they didn’t want to chat. We stop for lunch at an open air café and have boiled yucca root and grape sodas. A snow cone vendor comes down the street and we have tamarind and strawberry snow cones. Another vendor walks up, selling nuts. We bought a half pound of cashews – the biggest and best tasting I’ve ever had for 2 dollars.

Carmina and I are surprised at the prices here. The costs of things in the markets are almost as much as back home. Estella tells us the government has recently decided to use U.S. dollars as the official currency which has greatly inflated the prices of things. The typical worker makes $0.65 an hour, or about $150 per month. A two bedroom house rents for $100 per month, so there’s not much left over for other necessary things. And from this it seems like there is a lot of poverty here, but I don’t see it. For the most part everyone seems happy. There is a lot of commerce and construction going on and children are attending school.

This evening we had a hard rainstorm with lots of thunder and lightning almost directly overhead. It’s fairly cool and the humidity is high, but it is comfortable. Niles, Carmina and I have been lucky with the mosquitoes. Amy and Willie haven’t been so fortunate.

More later…


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About the author

James James is a five time and current Microsoft MVP in Client App Development, a Telerik Insider, a past Director on the INETA North America Board, a husband and dad, and has been developing software since the early days of Laser Discs and HyperCard stacks. As the Founder and President of the Inland Empire .NET User's Group, he has fondly watched it grow from a twice-a-month, early Saturday morning group of five in 2003, to a robust and rambunctious gathering of all types and sizes of .NET developers.

James loves to dig deep into the latest cutting edge technologies - sometimes with spectacular disasters - and spread the word about the latest and greatest bits, getting people excited about developing web sites and applications on the .NET platform, and using the best tools for the job. He tries to blog as often as he can, but usually gets distracted by EF, LINQ, MVC, ASP, SQL, XML, and most other types of acronyms. To keep calm James plays a mean Djembe and tries to practice his violin. You can follow him on twitter at @latringo.

And as usual, the comments, suggestions, writings and rants are my own, and really shouldn't reflect the opinions of my employer. That is, unless it really does.

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