20 January 2006

Companeros - day 1

Up and at the airport by 6 a.m. I was the first to arrive but Kathy was right behind me. The rest (Marcia, Nancy, Randy, and Blair) arrived shortly and we all checked in and began our wait at the gate without incident. The plane to Houston was a smaller jet…one of those where the announcement to board “1st class passengers and those traveling with small children” is followed almost immediately with “boarding all rows.” I had a window seat next to Randy. I was feeling really, really tired and pretty much spent the first half of the trip dozing/resting…I don’t know that I actually went to sleep. Somewhere over Texas, I started feeling more alert and began tatting a green heart. I was about 4 picots, a 6-knot chain and the final tie-off from finishing it when they called for all seats and tray tables to be stowed. I kept going until I finished then complied.

In Houston, we deplaned then headed to our gate to wait. And wait. And wait through our 6-hour layover. Randy, Kathy and I took a stroll around the terminal from one end to the other and back again. I stopped on the way back for lunch at a pizza place then picked up dessert at a Coca Moca, a chocolaterie (mmmm…turtles) and tried to make a few phone calls from my cell.
Back at the gate, Marcia, Kathy and I played Yahtzee and “5,000” (a dice game I’d just learned from a friend) on the floor while Nancy watched and Randy and Blair snoozed sitting up (we have photos to prove it…). Somewhere along the way we decided that if we were going to have our committee pow-wow before we got to El Salvador, we should probably get to it so we put away the dice and started talking about the things we wanted to make sure to discuss with the Pastoral Team when we got there. We got that mostly done before they called boarding for our flight to San Salvador.

Somewhere in there, Kathy pulled out a copy of Wicked Spanish…a diabolical little book filled with the sorts of Spanish phrases you will never learn in school. Such useful taxi-ride gems as “Yo no sabía que la tela metálica tenía tantos usos.” (I never knew chicken wire had so many uses.) or “Por favor dénos cascos.” (Please give us helmets.). And, ever-useful in dealing with policemen, “Tienen que estar tan apretadas las esposas?” (Do the handcuffs have to be so tight? …As a cultural sidebar, note that the Spanish term for ‘handcuffs’ is esposas, meaning ‘wives’ and, parenthetically, an endearment for ‘the little woman’ meaning a wife or girlfriend is bruja, which is the word for ‘witch’). All of this had us laughing hysterically and we decided to start our own list of phrases that we would have our translator render into Spanish. We didn’t get much past, “The flashlight is very cold in my bra.” (don’t ask…) which, I don’t think anyone ever actually got around to asking Walter to translate for us.

The San Sal leg of our flight was uneventful. The movie, contrary to what we read in the in-flight magazine, was NOT Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It was, instead, The Man starring Samuel L Jackson as a hardened and jaded cop and some other guy I’d never heard of as a small town salesman-type guy just in town to give a speech at a convention who got sucked into a high-stakes, covert gun-running deal. It was not a particularly good movie. The movie contained an incredible amount of swearing…even one of the characters in it commented on the amount of swearing. The most diverting part of the whole movie was some of the inventive dubbing used to cover up the swear words…to hear things like “bull sweat!” coming out of the tough guy’s mouth added an unintentionally comic tone to the movie. There was one obvious dub-over, but I couldn’t figure out WHAT it was dubbing out. We even talked about it later, as some of the others in the group noticed it, too. None of us knew what the dub was replacing…something crude and scatological rather than common swearing is all we could figure. I could rent the movie some day to find out but it’s just not worth it.

Dinner was airline food. That’s already giving it more notice than it deserved.

Bob met us at the airport and we had to wait a bit for Alejandro to pick us up with the van. We loaded up then Bob went to get his car from the parking lot while we waited for him. Kathy tried to talk Alejandro into giving her the keys but Alej very nervously resisted until we remembered the word for “joke” in Spanish is chiste so that he understood Kathy didn’t really intend to drive, only to freak out Bob a little. So Kathy got in the driver seat and Alej on the passenger side and we waited for Bob to come by. And waited. And waited. Finally, he came by and waved to the van and we all waved back. Then he jerked to a stop in the middle of the intersection as it registered that Kathy was in the driver seat. He started moving again to get out of traffic but pulled over just ahead of us as Kathy and Alej traded placed. We pulled up beside him as he was getting out of his car, clutching his chest and saying (in Spanish) “I thought, ‘Alejandro is crazy!’”
We rode the rest of the way to Daniela’s House without incident. We settled in then walked to the Super Selectos grocery store for cervezas (beer…for most of the rest of the gang) and pop (for me and Marcia). I also got a couple packets of powdered milk. We all chatted for a bit then Bob left and we went to bed.

Kathy, Marcia and I had the large room that Daniela and the kids had when they lived there. We had our own shower (cold, no pressure), an anteroom, and bathroom whereas the rest of the crew shared a bathroom.