Flying early Saturday from Houston to San Salvador is a good time for a first-class upgrade. It doesn’t happen too much anymore since United and Continental merged because there are so many more VIP customers with United. A big woo-hoo! A couple of confused folks thought I was in their seat due to the similarity in numbers of the gate – E2 – and my assigned seat – 2E. Other than that, it was an uneventful flight.
The VI Festival Events began Sunday Evening. So, Saturday was a day to settle in at the Hotel Terraza, change guitar strings and later, meet for dinner. Festival Director Julio and his wife, Alma, took the three teachers who were already in town – Barbara, Caroline and me – to a favorite local restaurant – Tipicos Margoth de El Salvador. Margoth celebrates 50 years of service this year and the food is well-known for being authentic. I can’t tell you the names of much of it, except for pupusas – the runaway national favorite of all foods. Margoth is laid out sort of like Luby’s or LaMadeliene. You walk past items on display and tell the servers what to put on your tray.
Typical food of El Salvador – yucca with vegetable/salsa topping, green tea, bean and cheese pupusa, pumpkin soaked in sugar and cinnamon.
I CAN tell you about another local food. Elote Loco (el-LOW-teh) is corn on the cob rolled in a grated cheese mix and then drizzled with mayonnaise and salsa. Sounds strange, but looks interesting. I decided to give it a try. In return, it pulled out my front tooth. As in, there it was, on the cob next to the corn. Hence the title of this entry as my tooth actually *was* in my pocket – in a little plastic vial of water.
“crazy” corn on the cob.
This stuff broke my tooth. Maybe it’s not totally to blame, though.
AGHGHGHGH!!!! Yikes. Really. Yes, my imagination was over-reactive flashing forward to the start of classes Sunday night. “So, kids, let me introduce you to your teacher – the Wicked Witch from the United States…”
It was an uneasy night for me, but on Sunday morning early, someone took me to a dentist who is Julio and Alma’s relative. He came in to the office Sunday just for me. He made a post for it and glued it back in less than 30 minutes; but warned me not to bite down on it any more. After all, he said “the tooth is broken.”
I’m so happy to have all of my teeth together again that the prospect eating only soup, oatmeal, ice cream and the like is really OK with me.
That evening the Opening Concert was very successful. It’s a nice reunion with students and teachers from past years as well as an opportunity get acquainted with new ones.
At the end of the evening post-concert reception on my way out of the buiding, somehow I tripped on the pavement. With my guitar in the heavy Calton flight case strapped to my back. It was embarrassing enough, so just got up and kept walking.
Everyone says my Spanish is much better. Which is funny – because I was disappointed with my preparations. I listened repeatedly to recorded podcasts about using the conditional and subjunctive tenses, which are advanced for me. They never really made sense and I did not master them. However, there are some vocabulary words I picked up as well as more confidence just using sentences and simple constructs.
When we started classes Monday and I met with the students for the first time, it was natural to speak in Spanish to them. As the afternoon ticked on, however, I felt my brain on overload and when one of the kids said “I speak English. You don’t have to teach me in Spanish,” I actually took him up on it. Usually “I speak English,” means they go to an “American School” in San Salvador, which does not necessarily mean they are conversational and often they do not understand simple instructions.
12 yr old student working on interpreting a Renaissance piece from the Chilesotti collection
In addition, my foot and one knee were bruised from my fall the night before which did not become apparent until I started teaching the afternoon waves and waves of students. One hour in particular, 7 students reported to share the hour of private lessons. Since my teaching style is pretty active, this became really painful as the day continued. There was not a minute between as one mega-class dovetailed into the next.
There is plenty in the plus column, however. Already noted is the camaraderie between the faculty, meeting the students – especially those that return from previous years – and their families. Many volunteers help things run smoothly and they have such big hearts to serve the faculty and help make us comfortable in their country.
Leading a class of guitar professors from Guatemala,El Salvador, Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
This year’s festival is my 4th visit to El Salvador. My first visit was for the IIIrd Festival in 2005. It’s always exciting to work with a group of local teachers and see them progress in their knowledge and confidence about setting up new students to be life-long learners and lovers of guitar. Couple that with the loving nature of the Salvadoran people, and it’s an even richer experience.
More to come…..