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Archive for April, 2007

The fish tank!

April 29th, 2007 at 11:42 am

well, you've read about it, beware of "free" gifts, they might end up costing you $$...

We got a free tank from one of my cousins...it had two ornaments and 2 plants, the filter, a lamp and a fish net...we had to buy sand and a glass to mount the lamp...while it wasnīt all too expensive, itīs still out of budget...($15)...we filled it and itīs working now...we are just waiting a whole day so we can move the fish (and our mermaid!) into it later today...we did not use bottled water, see, but used water that had been "sitting" in our pila for two days, so it should already be free of clorhine...we just want to make sure itīs 100% safe by waiting the customary 3 days before putting them in!...it looks so nice!!!...of course, Ale chose pink sand, and Clau wanted purple sand, so we bought 4lbs of each!...the guy at the store tried to get me to buy gray/tan sand, but, my poor fish are so gray themselves, they would be invisible in that!...so, the move is scheduled for tonight!....Iīm so excited!!!

Thanking God for His blessings!

April 26th, 2007 at 05:51 pm

ok, so I asked God for a new job:

1. which paid more than what I was earning...from $12K to $16K per year, gross earnings...and less deductions!!!

2. where people appreciated and recognized my work (it was recognized and appreciated at my previous job, I just didnīt want risking falling into a job that didnīt!)

3. close to my home (5 blocks...Iīd say thatīs close!)

4. which allowed me more time to be with my daughter (I cannot stay in the premises beyond 6pm without an escort...I leave the office between 5 and 5:30...which means I arrive home between 5:10 and 5:45...at my previous job I left between 6:00 and 8:00...and it took me anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour to get home, depending on traffic!)

5. Interesting, so I wouldnīt be bored or feel like quitting....

So, I just wanted to give Him public thanks for giving me this new job!

Iīm a superstar??

April 25th, 2007 at 07:47 pm

Well, the trip to the Northern Zone was really eye-opening...in more than one sense!...
at one point, a very young girl who works for the national development committee came to me and said: I wanted to introduce myself, I hear you are MI, the new admin?...Yes, thank you, weīve talked so much on the phone these last days...
Next thing I know, Iīm in the middle of a semicircle of 5 people, all looking at me with wide admiring eyes...((hello, Iīm pretty average looking, really...)) ..then there was this really awkward silence and I said: eh, yes??...and they said: oooh, itīs just that weīve heard so much about you, they are really impressed with you, they say youīre a superstar...("they" being the country director, deputy country director and program officer)...they did??...yes, superstar, thatīs the exact word they used!...((wider eyes on their faces))...oh, really?...
Now, that is actually intimidating...I now have to try to live up to that reputation!!...and, if I think about what Iīve done this past three weeks, nothing seems extraordinary to me...I mean, yes, Iīve added value in small ways, but, I donīt feel Iīve done anything to deserve the "superstar" moniker...
So, this part of the trip was scary, but nice! LOL!

We made history!! **looooong entry!!!

April 23rd, 2007 at 05:54 pm

These past two weeks were crazy, but it was worth it!...we had our First Northe rn Zo ne Tour last Wednesday...

To oversee the completion of the compact signed between the Milenium Challenge Corporation and the government of ES, a board of directors, consisting of 4 cabinet members, 2 NGO representatives and 1 private sector representatives was chosen at the beginning of the year...

We helped organize a committee to go to the NZ of the country, where the aid will be concentrated, as this is a "poverty belt"...well,let me tell you, it was EPIC!!!.... we set out at 5:30am, a caravan of 14 vehicles, carrying 60 people....including the ambassador....

So, here I was, little old me, with all these prominent people, whom I see on the news everyday: the minister of education, the minister and viceminister of public works, the minister and vice minister of agriculture, the deputy technical secretary to the presidency, the managing director for our organization, people from the private sector, the ngo representatives, the newly elected executive director and deputy executive director in charge of actually complying with the compact, the coordinator and several members of the National Development Committee...10 drivers,2 translators and some of us "lower level" people from 3 different organizations...no press, so that the attendees could concentrate on actually hearing what the people were saying instead of on what they were going to say to the press!...this was WORK!, not a publicity thing!

It took us 3 hours to get to our first stop, where the group met with mayors on the advisory council, members of a coffee cooperative, cattle farmers and members of a group of municipalities involved in water preservation...

We had a VERY tight schedule, but, the people at the towns we went were VERY organized and managed to stay on track with the time!...

After that first meeting, we left to visit a National Education Institute in a small village 21 kms away...so you have an idea of how bad the roads are there (about $200K for road construction), it took us 45 minutes to get there!!!...We were greeted by the school children, who were waving flags... it was very touching...

Here, the meeting was to hear the expectations and plans of the students, parents and teachers at this little village....the parents said they expected that the educational component of the compact would allow all their children to study and complete their high school education, and, who knows, maybe even go to the university some day...The representative of the private sector asked what they thought were the reasons for the high migration rates this village has and, the parents told her the lack of jobs...being honest, even if you graduate, what then, if thereīs really nothing there, no stores, no factories...and, the land is really inhospitable there!...

It was amazing to me to see something so desolate in my country...I would have imagine this was pure forests and, instead, I saw some cows that were kept together only by their hides....trees that twisted in the dry, hot air, like lost souls out of Danteīs inferno...here and there you would see a tiny house made out of tin or cardboard.... and, here and there you would see Mansions (yes, capital M, houses as luxurious as the ones you see in the capital city, only larger!)...these are the homes of the families that receive remittances from the US...I mst say, I understand the lure to migrate...even for those in the mansions....If I had one of those mansions in THAT place, itīd want out....not necessarily to the US, but, at least to the next town!!!! ...but, for those in the tiny shacks....well, just think what they must feel...the difference is really EXTREME!!....

After about an hour and a half of more bad roads, we reached the Lempa river....our ancient Father river...even in dry season, we needed to board the ferry to cross (the compact also includes building a bridge over it)....it was a beautiful spectacle....once all 14 cars were across, we went to yet another town, for yet another meeting, this time with the cattle farmer cooperative, who also explained the opportunities they see with the new road, and with the productive development component of the compact....we had lunch there, organized by the mayors of all these towns we had visited...local river shrimp (they looked more like tiny lobster than shrimp) and hen....quite tasty...

Then back in the cars for the last meeting in a small city, this time on paved roads, but, they were so narrow and full of curves, the cars couldnīt really go much faster than they had on the dirt roads!...

At the last town, the meeting was with the business sector, especifically transport and small commerce representatives...

by this time, it was 4:30pm and, you can imagine how tired everyone was!!!...we left the small city at 6:00pm, back to our capital city....we took a different route this time, and it took only 1 hour and a half to get back home (we COULD have taken this route, but, the whole idea was for this people to actually SEE what the people in the NZ have to live every day and how urgent it is to do something for them and how much of an impact our work will make in their lives)...

Everyone was tired when we left, but, all the people in the caravan where very pleased with the tour and very glad they had joined the tour...could you believe very few of the attendees (me included!) had never visited that part of the country? (where the heaviest fighting was during the war) and, we even had one person who had never actually left the capital city!!!

I donīt have enough time to polish this entry, because Ale wants to play, and it really is a shame, for I know I cannot begin to convey the sense of historic momentum that this trip left in all of us!

I will tell you more about the new job some other time, but, for now, this is the most important thing and, I really wanted to write about it before the feeling goes away!! (and, honestly, I hope it never does, because I feel like Iīm really part of something much greater than myself at the moment!)

New job!!

April 8th, 2007 at 09:37 am

My first day was good..I got loaded with so much info, my head was swimming by the end of the day...we finished at 4:50pm! unheard of!!!and I felt guilty about it!!...next day was a bit easier, I got access to 1 network (Im going to be working on two networks, but, since I need an id badge, my fingerprint AND a password to log in to the Emb network, I still havent even touched THAT computer!!!...and it is an "Unclassified" station!!!...I do not want to know what they require for someone that uses a classified equipment!) Our whole team here in ES is going to be five people... we will be complete as of April 29, since the development specialist is already hired but finishing his job until that date...Everyone is really nice and they have done their best to make me feel welcome....I have done my best to make myself useful (as much as I possibly can without full acces to everything and with my very limited knowledge of how things work!)...I really think we are going to make a good team!...and, once I get the hang of things and start meeting more people, I wont feel so lost and useless!...They invited us (Ale was included) to go bowling on Tuesday....Ale loved it...and, in typical Ale fashion, half an hour after meeting the people, she was being cuddly to the point of harrassment!...hugging people, tickling them...fighting with them!! ...at one point, one of the women asked me if Ale spoke English and I said: no, not really, why?? ...and she said: Oh, because it looks like she's talking to L. and he doesn't speak A WORD of Spanish!...well, that's never stopped Ale before!!...lol!...

As you can see, I'm quite happy...I predict that in a month it will be as if I had always been there!....(although, I do miss the gang...especially since going from 22 people to 4 feels quite lonesome!) -- oh, well, I get to see them o Friday the 13th, as I'm invited to someone's 30th b-day/engagement party that day!