You know you’re in El Salvador when…

*the  director of the school asks one of the 7th grade students if he has matches, and then asks that student to set fire to the piles of trash and leaves piled up around the school grounds during the first week of school.

*you walk into the kitchen one evening to find an iguana (with its tail cut off) tied to an armadillo rolling around on the ground.  They’ll be dinner soon.

*you get up early to go for a run at the concha (the soccer field), which turns into an even that attracts a small crowd to watch you run circles around the field.

*Mom and dad are out for the day, leaving 15 year old daughter and 9 year old son at the home alone.  The afternoon’s entertainment is making a fire in the back yard and setting ablaze to a pile of nuts that squirt flammable liquid out as they burn.

*There is not one but two laying hens in the kitchen, each in their bucket-turned-nest, laying on their dozen or so eggs that will hatch this weekend.

*you’re looking for something to start a fire with, so you grab a plastic bag

*In the span of a weekend,  you  get stung by a scorpion, heat rash, a rash from harvesting millet, and an unidentified allergic reaction that causes various parts of your body to swell and itch

*you’re sitting on the back porch and a chicken falls out of the mango tree

*you walk down the street to the store to buy a single hot dog, handed over unceremoniously in a nameless black plastic bag

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2 thoughts on “You know you’re in El Salvador when…

  1. Just an FYI: the rashy thing might be fungal. I’d recommend getting some gentian violet (violeta de genciana) from the pharmacy and applying it on any kind of swollen rashy thing or on small cuts and bites. It should be extremely affordable and a small bottle goes a long way. It’s all purpose, and is a miracle substance for fighting fungus and infection, but it will stain your clothes! Anyway, no matter what kinda skin thing you have, try a little genciana and see if it improves after a couple days (fungus can take a week or more to fight off, but it’ll be less itchy and swollen after a day or two). If its not fungus, genciana won’t hurt (in fact, it’ll help prevent future infection of a vulnerable area!)

  2. This might sound kinda gross, but the swollen rashy thing might be fungal (yeah, I know. . . yuck). You should get some Gentian violet from the pharmacy (genciana de violeta). It should be very affordable and a small bottle goes a long way. I’d be surprised if you can’t find it in any town big enough to have internet access 😉 The great thing about genciana is that it’s both antimicrobial and antifungal and you’re unlikely to be allergic (although I don’t recommend slathering your entire body on the first try, just to be safe). It’s all-purpose, really, and I recommend it for cuts, scrapes, bug bites gone bad, and weird rashy patches that may or may not be fungal. It WILL, however, stain your clothes, so only wear it with dark things and/or be sure to let it dry completely. The great thing about genciana is that you can put it on any kind of little sore and it won’t hurt, and unlike neosporin, it dries on and seals the area so that no further infection can occur. The bottle will probably have a plastic seal on the top. I recommend *just* puncturing it in the middle, then dabbing that puncture with the bottle upturned so it slowly saturates a cotton ball or Q-tip, then apply to your skin. That’s a much cleaner way (in terms of staining and sanitation) to dispense it than trying to remove the whole seal. Who knows, they might even have a bottle with a small drip tip, but I wouldn’t count on it. Anyway, a fungal infection can take 3 days to 2 weeks to go away depending on the type (even when it looks like it’s gone, keep applying the genciana for a few more days!!), but you should see significant improvement in as little as 2-3 days of use. Best of luck!!

    P.S.: do you have access to a copy of Where There Is No Doctor (or Donde No Hay Doctor)? It’s an excellent resource. Bilingual versions are available, too. If you guys don’t have one down there, let me know and I’ll send a few bilingual copies your way. It’s very educational and focuses on the practical health knowledge that every community should have access to. (Beware, it will make you a total hypochondriac! but it might just save a life!)

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