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What would you do with $276 million?... or with $351M?

August 15th, 2018 at 09:42 am

Only in El Salvador!
Believe it or not one ex-president was charged with embezzling $301M.. he has been in jail for 2 years now, and the DA´s office has not been able to find the money trail... So, they offered him a deal: he returns $25M, serves 10 years in prison (of which there 2 will be discounted) and walks free... (it seems that, because of the time that has passed, if they didn´t cut this deal, there was a possiblity of him just walking away with the full $301M, don´t ask me, I´m not a lawyer) So, he keeps $276M of taxpayer´s money.
On the other hand, ANOTHER ex-president made off with $351M. He fled to Nicaragua crying that the investigation into his finances was poitical prosecution, and, Wouldn´t you know it? His buddy Ortega granted him asylum. Put him up in a veritable mansion in Nicaragua (paid by Nicaraguan taxpayers, of course)...Rumor has it the house is now deserted (what with the political unrest, and with him being found guilty), and that he has fled to Albania (apparently, there´s no extradition, and the INTERPOL has no jurisdiction there)
I really... I just hope they rot in hell, I know they definitely have no shame and feel no guilt about this, they probably just laugh at us suckers who paid for all their luxuries. UGH!

cooking for a cause- proud of my cooking/baking skills

July 12th, 2018 at 07:10 am

I feel proud of myself. There was a bake sale last week to help a work colleague who maxed out her insurance, and I contributed some lemon bars... the organizers said everyone loved them, and were among the first things to go! (I baked with what I had on hand,mostly, I only had to buy the lemons, and those are not expensive at the marketplace....AND, wouldn`t you know? A friend gave me some lemons from her backyard the next week!- we do use at least 4 lemons every week for meals, and more if we make lemonade)
Also, Ale´s class was in charge of "gratitude day" sales at school (the kids sell food, snacks, refreshments to collect money to give the cleaning staff a school a special bonus), Ale´s friends asked for MY chili (they paid for the ingredients, and someone else was in charge of the cheese and nachos), and, it sold out in 15 minutes!! AND, they needed to sell 60 servings to collect their target amount, and, managed to get 52 servings (and that, because they ran out of nachos and cheese!

6 days without water!

July 5th, 2018 at 06:42 am

THE main pipe supplying San Salvador with water broke, and, over half the city has been without water for 6 days now. (More than 1 million people are without water).Some people have cisterns, others, like me, grew up during the war years and we keep water in barrels or containers at home, but, usually, these are enough for 3 days, so, needless to say, we are running VERY low. Classes have been suspended at 300 public schools and many private schools (those without cisterns, or whose cisterns have already run out). Repair work is supposed to be finished by Friday. I really hope there are no more delays.
***
The cherry on top? the political parties are accusing each other of sabotage. There is a Water Law submitted for review at the national Assembly, and, the left says this is calling for privatization of water, the right denies it. So, the left says the right had someone break the pipe to swing public opinion in their favor. The right says the left did it so it could say the right did it. ...both sides are very capable of something like this, to tell you the truth... the police say they called in engineers to investigate, and that it wasn't sabotage, that the pipe just broke because of the vibrations (there have been numerous tremors this past year), lack of maintenance and water pressure.
***
ack! just heard someone say the repairs may take until Sunday...we might end up setting those containers in the garden to catch rain (except, of course, there is the typical 15 day dry spell of the middle of the rainy season!)

Gas stations in El Salvador: Cash only, please!

May 30th, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Well, as of tomorrow, gas stations in El Salvador will no longer accept credit or debit cards. They claim that their profit margin is to slim and that credit card companies and bank fees reduce it even further.

I have been purchasing gas with my debit card, so the adjustment wont be that much, but...

Oh, and regular gas is now $4.49/gallon.... premium is $4.64... Took $47 to fill my gas tank...YIKES! Back in December, when I made my budget for this year, I could fill it with $30, so I budgeted $45, to account for climbing prices, etc... guess I have to start budgeting $50! ... wow, everything is on the rise, except for my salary, of course...but thats a whole other entry!

the whole country is being held hostage!

September 8th, 2010 at 02:01 pm

I'm sad, mad, disappointed, enraged... and God only knows what other feelings go through me at this time... yesterday, the Maras (gangs) "decreed" a 72 hour stop on public transportation. Today, hardly a bus is running, and people have had to WALK to work... not only that, but businesses have opened late and are closing early so that people are able to get home safely... oh, and now the maras want to "negotiate" with the government (negotiate what? Our rendition?? They've already proven they are the ones with power!) AAAAAAAAAARRRRRGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Tropical Storm Agatha

June 2nd, 2010 at 07:41 pm

hit Central America hard!
Thankfully, things weren't as bad in El Salvador as in Guatemala Frown for them, though... plus, they have a volcano that is erupting, too!

I was watching the news today and, there was another consequence that I hadn't thought about... one of the bridges at the border with Guatemala collapsed. Most of our veggies come from Guatemala,so, now veggies are more expensive (and scarce!)

Please pray for El Salvador!!

November 8th, 2009 at 09:21 pm

It seems that international news still hasn´t picked this up:


http://www.elsalvador.com/mwedh/nota/nota_completa.asp?idCat...

Heavy rains have caused a national disaster! Thankfully, the area where I live is ok, we are safe, but, many people have died and, many more have lost absolutely everything! Frown

My personal take on the elections in ES

March 19th, 2009 at 08:06 am

Oh, yes...we knew it would be tight... in fact, our boss made us write down who we thought would win, and by how much...he said he didn't want us to write how we were going to vote, just who we thought would win (he's an american, so it wouldn't have made any difference to him...plus, I think it's pretty obvious-from conversations in the past- where each of us stands, so...
anyway, we all said the margin was going to be 2% or less!
(and it was!) it is not a surprise, even the right-wing people were kind of fed up with our party, but, a leftist government in ES is just... well...unthinkable...(if that makes any sense!)

My personal worry is that the president elect will NOT be able to do whatever it is that he intends to do, but that the party allowed him some freedom while on campaign because that was one of his "conditions" to run with them, that they would not try to control him...but, what happens now? Will the party continue to allow him this... or will they demand that he does what they want? If this is the case, and he doesn't want to...is there really something he can do? The Vicepresident elect is the same man that has run for VP for that political party ever since they became a political party (it was ALWAYS the same two, the only reason the other one did not run is he died a couple years ago!...so, NO, HE hasn't lost his intent of ruling, nor has the party really changed...they only found a fresh face for the party, someone not "tainted" by a war history.... I know what I am going to say will seem horrid to some of you, but, during the campaign, there was a lot of mudslinging, and one of the things that was played up was the VP candidate´s guerrilla past…how he had killed hundreds of people (as per his own account in his autobiographical book), but, to me, that is not really the problem… (nobody can go through 10 years of war and come out clean)…to me, the main problem is that I do not feel he has changed his views… (all those deaths should at least have TAUGHT him something)…there´s absolutely no regrets, but, rather, some pride in what he has done…
Also, while it is true that the now president elect has met with Lula and not with Castro or Chavez….the VP is another matter, he´s always been buddy-buddy with these folks… Now, one might say the VP doesn´t matter, but, let´s face it, he DOES…. I might have read one too many conspiracy theory novels, but I fear that, if the president doesn´t do what the party wants, if he´s too resistant….”something” could happen to him…

As I said in my previous entry, there really isn´t much that we (the people who didn´t vote for him) can do now, other than wait and see….and demand that he proves we were wrong, as a friend says! (and, quite frankly, I think we would all welcome being proved wrong!) ---prove that we were wrong in thinking he doesn´t have the freedom/will to do what he promised to do…

Now, many of you may not understand this “fear” we feel (I know my boss doesn´t!)….
Well, this is not the US, where differences between 1 party and the other one might be huge, but the basic views are the same …

Don´t think our elections were like choosing between Obama and Bush…this was more like…. (Fidel) Castro or Bush… hmmm...or maybe Chavez vs someone, as we say "to the right" of Bush...and, yes, it IS a very polarized society… you can´t “sort of agree” here, you´re either for or against… (foolish, I know!)….

The reason I haven´t blogged about this before is I´m still trying to digest it… not to mention that nothing has changed/will change/can change before June, when the new president comes into power!...

Oh, and, for the time being, at least, the right wing party has promised they will be a “constructive” opposition….(not voting NO on something just because it wasn´t their idea, or leaving theirs seats so that there is no quorum for a vote, for example…the sort of thing the now-ruling party used to do!)

…so, I´ll be writing more once I see what REALLY happens!

************
DISCLAIMER: This is my personal view, I'm not a political analyst nor do I pretend to be knowledgeable enough about politics ...but, hey, it's how I FEEL, so it's valid! LOL!

Rain, rain, go away....

October 20th, 2008 at 03:57 pm

I've had it with rain...
yes, we are still in rainy season, but, even in rainy season, we see the sun EVERY day... unless there's what we call a "temporal" (generally, we get temporales when the US and the Caribbean get big hurricanes)... we've had 4 full days of rain... I don't own a clothes dryer... I hang my clothes out to dry and, half an hour later, they're wetter than they were when I got them out of the washer... I swear!... and everything is musty... and all of my clothes are wet... honest... I'm down to 2 shirts and 1 pair of pants (office clothes)...
and yet, I shouldn't be whining, because there are people who have lost their LIVES because of the heavy rains...some were luckier and just lost their houses and their posessions, but at least the families are ok... and I'm complaining about musty clothes!!! ... oh, and we have a leak in our roof... first one in 9 years... not bad!...
still... I'm praying for this incessant rain to STOP!!

Volcanos!! - II

September 2nd, 2008 at 08:47 am

Here's the Santa Ana or Ilamatepec...it's the highest in El Salvador, at 2,382 m (~7,814 feet)It's last eruption was in 2005!! GULP! ...you can see the Izalco in the background...


The Izalco, which is probably what most people think about when they think about a volcano. It's the youngest in the country- only 200 years old. ...it used to be called El Faro del Pacifico, or lighthouse of the Pacific, because the ships could see it from the ocean at night (it must have been beautiful!) ...It's last eruption was in 1966 .."inexplicable" they say, one day it just stopped...I have my own theory, of course! LOL! - you see, they built a hotel on a mountain across from it, so tourists could come and stay there and watch...the volcano "inexplicably" stopped erupting about 2 weeks before the official opening... I guess he didn't want people making money off him! LOL!



So you get an idea what the country looks like:

Volcanos!!! - I

September 2nd, 2008 at 08:35 am

There are 25 in El Salvador, so here are some of the most "famous" ones! LOL!

This picture was taken by a friend at the place where I used to take Ale for swim lessons...in the back, the San Salvador volcano (Quetzaltepec)

Here's another view of that volcano, with the city around it.

This one is the Chaparrastique or San Miguel Volcano.

They are both considered active volcanos!

Of holidays and earthquakes

August 6th, 2008 at 01:32 pm

Well, we are on Holiday (today is our last day, though, so tomorrow we start work again...except Ale, who starts a new school year on Tuesday )...we've had a couple strong earthquakes (strong enough to wake me up at night: one was 5.4 and the other one 5.1 - Richter scale)...nothing too bad, no damages, but enough to be scary (not scary enough to get up and get out of the house, though, as the first one was at around 1am and the other one at around 3am)
I took 4 days "off" (meaning I DID have work to do- translations- but I chose not to work for those 4 days: Fri-Mon...my brain needs a rest! LOL!)

Didn't do much, but we have spent some $$$$...went to the movies, bought pizza for 6 people...went to the Children's museum...stuff like that... other than that, just enjoyed the luxury of getting up at around 10 am!!!! (I'm a night person, I REALLY don't do mornings...I'm fully convinced my brain isn't really operational until 9am!)

Parts of my country that I don't know!

June 24th, 2008 at 07:59 am

The guys have been going out to the field a lot lately...I don't get to go. I stay and "hold the fort", LOL!...
but, since we bought a camera last year, I make them take it and, aside from the pictures of the events that they are attending, they occasionally take pictures of the scenery...

Here are a couple of places I've never been to (and not likely to visit anytime soon, as it is difficult getting there even with a 4X4!!- in fact, there are places where they had to leave the cars behind and walk for about 1 or 2 hours to get to the communities!)





As you can see, transportation IS an issue (and this was during dry season!!)



NOW I may think about changing cell phone companies!

June 17th, 2008 at 09:38 am

shhhh....don't tell anybody just yet... niece was in an ad for Cellphone company #1, which has MUCH better signal coverage than any of the other ones...the reason I stay with my current cell phone company is that their prepaid card balance doesn't expire ....with other companies, you buy a $2 card, once you load it to your cell phone, you have 5 days to use it, or it expire...$5 cards last 7 days; $10 last 12; $20 last 15 days and the $50 card lasts a month...
with my company, I can use a $2 and, as long as I receive at least 1 incoming call in a 60- day period, it NEVER expires...since I've been trying to CUT on cellphone use (I'm currently spending $2- $5 per month!) this makes a lot more sense than switching to company #1...
HOWEVER...the ad niece made is to announce that company#1 is going to go to "non-expiring" cards, too! woo-hoo!
I get the convenience of a pre-paid cell phone (contracts here are for a fixed amount, starting at $15, you get a "free" phone, but the contract is for 18 months...if the phone is damaged within those 18 months, you have to either buy a new one, or sign an extension of the contract (for ANOTHER 18 months!)...and, since I really don't care about having the "latest and greatest" cell phone, I can buy one of the cheap $10- $15 phones and get both the convenience of the no-expiration card AND the best signal coverage!!! It'll even help me LOWER my cellphone budget, because sis and niece (the people I call the most) AND the people at my office are already on THAT network, so calls will be cheaper thatn they are now, with me calling from company #2 to a company #1 line!
woo-hoo!
(I'll just have to wait until they announce it officially!- oh, and I'll have to carry 2 phones while I make sure everyone on my address book has the new number!)

$5 Diesel?!

May 28th, 2008 at 08:01 am

Diesel is $4.95 ... I fully expect it to be AT LEAST $5 when I come back from the trip. EEK!

Bakers on strike!

March 26th, 2008 at 09:48 am

small bakers have gone on strike in ES over the price of flour...they will not bake for 2-3 days...
they are asking for a government subsidy to help them cope with rising prices in flour and lard without having to increase prices to the public...

Meantime, bus owners and other transportation business owners are asking the government to place a ceiling of $2 for diesel prices...

Troy will burn! (there WILL be trouble, one way or the other!)

New "ceiling" for cc interest rate is 39%

March 9th, 2008 at 09:57 am

38.99% actually. Under the new "Alliance for the Family" law (issued to help us middle class folk in ES- or so they say...) banks and cc issuers cannot charge more than 38.99% interest per year. Some cc's charged up to 47%.
The interesting thing, however, is this: we always have lunch with the bank teller at our office (they have a mini-branch inside the compound) and she was telling us that they had X cc that used to charge 37%, but now they've raised the interest to 38.99%! Kind of defeats the purpose of the whole thing, doesn't it?

Now you can use your cc to pay taxes!

March 4th, 2008 at 07:07 am

this is the newest thing here in ES (the news broke yesterday)...now you can use your cc (and even your reward points) to pay your taxes!...

I still don't know what to think about it...

too funny!

January 30th, 2008 at 12:14 pm

I had to share this cartoon in today's local paper...http://archive.laprensa.com.sv/caricatura/caricatura.asp#CI


the cartoon says:
Raise for assembly members

The river says: public opinion

the guy in the boat on the edge of the waterfall: Gentlemen, it's time to reconsider this course...

44% raise?!

January 28th, 2008 at 08:08 pm

no, not me (I wish!)...this is the latest scandal in Salvadoran politics: the Legislative Assembly members just gave themselves a 44% pay increase (last year they approved a raise of minimum salary...7%!)...so, the lowest-paid Legislative Assembly member will get a RAISE of $1,800/month!!
Crooks, all of them!...the "funniest" thing about it is that, now that the press has given it coverage, all of them are going: "what? pay increase? where? how? NO, I'm sure I didn't vote for it...never really heard about it until now..." (70/84 voted for it, so....best possible scenario they are all idi0ts and just vote without actually knowing what they're voting on...hmmmm, but, the opposition ALWAYS votes against whatever is put in front of them, so...hmmmm...Oh, and, even the member that signed the cheques said she didn't know about it!!!)...grrrrrrrrrrrr...this has everyone's blood boiling!!...people are asking that they revoke the measure (yeah, right!)...we'll see what happens, but, I just needed to vent!...$1,800!!!! (and minimum salary is $180!!!)...and, guess HOW they'll pay for it...or, rather, guess WHO'll pay for it...yep, "Juan Pueblo" ...
one of them actually said they NEEDED that raise because their current salaries are not enough....really, these people know no shame!

$3.70 for a 400g bag of powdered milk!

January 9th, 2008 at 12:22 pm

same bag that cost me $3.09 on Saturday!
...and they tell me Premium gas has reached $4/gallon!!!

Desperate times call for desperate measures, I'm calling a "clan meeting" at my house tomorrow!!

The luxury of fresh produce all year round

January 8th, 2008 at 07:35 am

as with everything, you take it for granted when you've had it all your life...I first became aware of this back in '92, while working for the UN Observer Mission in ES...one of the guys from the Spanish delegation came in one day with an armload of fruits, stood in the doorway (I was the receptionist/telephone operator) and said to another guy (a newcomer): "You won't believe this, but, I've been here for nine months already and, EVERY month I've tried a different fruit...there's always new ones, and there's always plenty, and they are tasty AND cheap! It's amazing!"....my colleauge at the reception (there were 2 receptionists/telephone operators on duty during business hours and only 1 the rest of the time, the Mission was available 24/7)said to me: "Oh, the things that amaze them...and this is in the Information Age...no wonder they thought they'd found paradise when they first arrived 500 years ago!"...we laughed, but it DID get me thinking...I also remember the guys from Chile at the Mission, who ate a pineapple every week...they mentioned that pineapples weren't as sweet in Chile, and that they were very expensive!...and I was thinking about it yesterday, while preparing our lunchboxes: chicken and spinach lasagna, with chopped tomatoes, and mellon for dessert. I also made our dinner, which was a broccoli cream - all from fresh veggies/fruit...no cans, no bags, no powders, no preserves...and the mellon was delicious, too, sweet and golden...fruit doesn't taste the same when it is picked before it's ripe (I guess it's the same for vegetables)...and, if I stick to what's "in season", it really is not expensive!....and, because our weather is mostly "even" all year round, produce tends to be "in season" most of the time!

New Year, New prices

January 5th, 2008 at 12:45 pm

...went to the grocery store today...bought almost the same things I always do (did not get meats, but had to buy food for both Tonio AND Fiona, as they were both running out)...the total is generally ~$70...today it was $85!!!
...and the MInistry of Economy says cummulative inflation as of November was 5.5%!!!

I'll have to adjust my monthly budgets to reflect these new prices!!!...and I'm guessing the difference will have to come out of the money allocated towards paying debt....grrrrr!

Salvadoran delegation in the Rose Parade!

December 28th, 2007 at 07:17 am

10 months ago, a group of Salvadoran school marching bands was invited to participate in the Rose Parade...the kids have worked hard not only rehearsing, but also raising money to go...they even managed to get their US Visas!! (the association of Salvadorans living in LA agreed to be responsible for the kids return)...flying was too expensive, so they ended up going by bus...only to be stopped at the Mexican border because, since they had switched to ground transportation at the last minute, they did not request their Mexican transit visas in time...But, now they are already on their way again!
If you watch the Parade, watch out for them! They have gone through A LOT and, from what I hear, they're really good!

my turn to do the grocery shopping today...

December 2nd, 2007 at 06:56 am

supermarkets are already packed...I hate grocery shopping around the holidays...the worst thing is, since we buy every week, and we alternate with sis, that means my next grocery shopping will be around the 15th....which is payday!!!!...AND, Xmas bonuses here are paid between the 12th and the 20th...can you imagine what THAT'll be like???...

oh, well, at least it will be sis' turn on the 23rd!!!...

cold IS relative!

November 8th, 2007 at 03:06 pm

...I am most definetily a "tropical flower"...our temperatures are 28/17 right now and, I'm freezing!...well, not really, but, I'm very VERY cold, and I want my sweater!!! (forgot it at home!)...I have also noticed that I get very lethargic when it's cold...if I lived in a place where temperatures are REALLY cold, I guess I'd hybernate! LOL!...or, I'd have to have a screen, like the rose in the Little Prince!

ok, $12 , that's not too bad...

September 18th, 2007 at 12:12 pm

that's what the new passport will cost (up from $9.71)...so, that's not TOO bad... I thought they might go to $20 (at least!) from all that they were saying...we'll see, as they have submitted the proposal for the increase before the Legislative Assembly, so now it has to be ratified....if mine were about to expire, I could get a new one for $9.71...but, they have issued this new regulation, that your passport has to be renewed on the month that it expires (December, in this case) ....and I doubt it'll take them so long to ratify...though, who knows!...the Legislative Assembly is not known for being fast at that!

New wardrobe!

September 18th, 2007 at 09:30 am

Notice that I've been saying my old wardrobe is in shambles and I will soon need to replace some items??...guess what! a colleague's wife said to me a while ago she had some clothes she no longer uses and would I be offended if she offered them to me...and, yesterday, she brought me a bagful of clothes...and they ALL fit!...so, now I have a new pair of jeans, a new skirt and 7 new shirts...both dressy and "weekend" ... Smile
and all the items were "so me" ...and free!...

Isn't this sad?

August 22nd, 2007 at 02:48 pm

I was thinking today how I'm spending about $60/month instead of $40-$50 on gas now that niece is taking Ale to school (sis puts in another $20/month), but that it's still positive because I'm not paying the $30 for the transport, so in reality I'm spending $60 vs $70-$80...and then I thought it's good that gas is cheaper now because it's "only" $3.14-$3.20

AND THEN I remembered that it wasn't so long ago when I felt that gas was "super-expensive" when it reached $3!!!

isn't that sad??

School census in ES

August 13th, 2007 at 11:15 am

The Ministry of Education of ES conducted a school census to verify the quality of private schools...there are ~1400 private schools.... ~400 are going to be closed down...students can finish the current school year and that's it....
The remaining schools have been divided into categories: A, B, C and D...
A's get 10 year permits with yearly follow-up visits
B's get 5 year permits with yearly follow-up visits
C's get 28 months to improve or else they will be closed down
D's get 16 months to improve or else they will be closed down

the criteria included such things as infrastructure, teacher certification, student-teacher ratios, full-time vs part-time teacher ratio, among others...the list was released yesterday...

Ale's school has been classified as a C school, which wouldn't be too surprising, given that their facilities are two converted houses...but, other schools with similar infrastructure made the B list (some of the other schools I visited but couldn't afford).

Now, I like the school and, I'm hoping that the deficiencies found can be easy to address and that the school will do something about it (I also hope this doesn't include charging more or asking for additional $$, because I REALLY cannot afford that)....Today is the first day and, I expect to have a memo from the school before the end of the week (customary). I hope that the principal will include this important issue in the memo, but, if she doesn't, I think I'll write to her next week to try to find out: 1. what were the areas that received the lowest ranking, 2. what is their action plan and 3. as a parent, what can I do to help?...depending on her answers, I'll have to devise my own action plan (but, just in case, I need to start putting money aside for those pesky one-time enrollemnt fees at other schools, which can be anywhere from $1,500- $10,000 depending on the school!)


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