Adventures in the Market

Sólo he estado en El Salvador cincuenta y siete días

I just got back from the market after working a half-day at the clinic (yes, we work on Saturdays.  Boo.) and wanted to share with you all the joy of the market.


Here are just some things I love about going to the market here in Jucuapa:

  • It’s one of the places I’m allowed to go by myself so I love it so much as a place of refuge when I’m trying to be by myself.  (It’s safe enough as long as I don’t go deep into the trenches of the market and stay on the outside, as I always do.)
  • Food shopping is really therapeutic for me.  I love it now just as much as when I moved into my house at UNC (the first time I was really on my own.)  It’s all about having a budget, taking responsibility of what I eat, making sure it’s healthy, and having a fun treat on the side 🙂
  • Markets are a huge thing in almost every country in the world.  It makes me feel somewhat nostalgic that for centuries people have gone to the market to buy their locally grown food and here I am doing that in 2013.
  • It’s also cool that for nearly everyone that goes abroad, we all have something in common: braving the local market.
  • It makes me feel really confident in my language and life skills here in El Salvador.  Sometimes I take a second to really soak in the fact that I am buying food in another language by myself and they understand me!  I don’t think I can ever get over that.

It’s a shame that I don’t go more often than I’m able to.

But I also wanted to share with you all how amazing shopping is here.  Some things cost quite a bit (I’m speaking to you, milk, peanut butter, and butter!) but other things, like fresh fruits and vegetables, cost very little compared to the grocery store in the US.  For example, here’s a list of everything I bought today for only $12.71:

  • 1/2 gallon of milk 
  • 6 individual yogurts
  • pineapple jelly
  • 3 bananas
  • 1/2 lb grapes
  • 1 mango
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 onion
  • 1 package of strawberries
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 handmade tortillas
  • 1 package of oreos (my weakness here in El Salvador)
  • 1 coconut donut (fresh!)

Can you believe it?!  It’s so opposite of life in the US.  Fresh foods (namely, fruits and vegetables) cost so much less that other foods.  For example, the mango I bought cost only $0.35 and a small bag of chips in a store costs $0.25 or $0.50!  That’s not to say that the poor kids in the town eat healthy at all, though.  You usually see them with an ice cream or chips in their hands, which is sad.

But I am so thankful for the hour spent at the market today, enjoying my time to explore, search, buy, and think.  The only annoying thing now is cleaning my fresh food before I can eat it.  That’s actually what the picture is of at the top of this post.  We Americans use a watered-down bleach water to clean the food for about half an hour then thoroughly rinse and let soak in water for another half an hour.  Not the most fun thing in the world but it’s better than spending your day in the bathroom 🙂



Filed under Bullet Post, El Salvador, Experiences, Food, World Gospel Mission

New Easter Traditions

Sólo he estado en El Salvador cincuenta y tres días

**I’ve actually hit somewhat of a milestone this weekend! As of March 30, I only have one month left in El Salvador!**

Piñatas and eggs filled with confetti.  That’s what my Easters will consist of from now on.

Here in El Salvador, the big thing to do for Easter is smash dyed eggs filled with confetti on top of people’s heads.  Kids get into it, adults get into it, and you can buy four confetti eggs for a quarter so everyone can afford it.  It’s so much fun that I am officially making it a part of my Easter tradition from now on.

Many of the poorer families here in Jucuapa make and sell the eggs and the kids help.  I wondered what was going on last week when I kept seeing the kids at our church with orange, pink, green, and purple-dyed fingers!  The eggs are really very easy to make.


To make them, you use real egg shells.  Dye your eggs however you’d like them, then break the top 1/3 of the shell off and remove the egg inside.  Let the egg dry and then fill with confetti (cut up magazines or whatever paper you have around).  Then glue a piece of tissue paper over the hole at the top of the egg.  Voilà!  You now have eggs ready for the smashing!

On Friday, Kaitlin Hawk and I went to the town square to look at the Good Friday morning rugs as they were being created, and met several of the church kids that were selling the eggs with their parents/family.  Not the kids to let an opportunity go by, 5-7 of the kids hammered Kaitlin and I with flower stems and confetti eggs until my hair was successfully a rat’s nest of flower stems and confetti with a little hair to hold it all together.  Not only was there no place to run, we both didn’t have money to buy eggs to get them back!  Not a problem though, Kaitlin and I bought $1.00’s worth of eggs in Alegría and had them ready when we saw them again on Sunday afternoon!

I had one of the team work members take a video of the payback.  The girl that I first got with the confetti egg is Maria.

I got several other kids with the eggs and was having a great time but then one of my other friends, Teresa, got me as a surprise! I, unfortunately, got that one on video as well 🙂

I loved it so much, I want to bring it back to the States with me.  So watch out next Easter! 🙂

And the other fun thing we did on Easter was a piñata!  We did one at the church during the second service for the kids and again in the afternoon during cell group.  The video below shows the little kids swinging at the piñata.  (And the guy who was picking the kids to swing at it is Timmy, one of the pastor’s kids and part of the family who I live with.)

The poor piñata was a little busted after the kids got to it haha.


So those are two really fun traditions in El Salvador that I wouldn’t mind at all incorporating into Easter in the US!

As for the church service, evangelical churches here don’t make a big deal about Easter because the Catholic church, which is a very large presence in Central America, celebrates it so much and the evangelical churches are trying to show separation from themselves and the Catholic church.  It all seems a little backwards, to not celebrate the Lord’s resurrection as much as I’m used to, but the goal as missionaries is not to be trendsetters, but work with the trends.

I hope you all enjoyed Easter and were able to celebrate the Lord’s resurrection with your own fun traditions!

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Filed under El Salvador, Experiences, Uncategorized, World Gospel Mission

Sounds of El Salvador

Sólo he estado en El Salvador cuarenta y seis días

When you first travel to a new location, your senses are hyper aware of what’s going on around you.  Smells are stronger, sounds are louder, and sights are grander.  But as you become more settled in where you are, you eventually get used to the new sounds, sights, smells, and tastes.  You start adapting to life in a new location more and more to the point where dogs barking at midnight no longer phase you and you start adding more and more hot sauce to your pupusas because it’s no longer as spicy as you first remembered it being.


I knew that those initial sensations would eventually fade so before I became so accustomed to them that I could no longer recognize them as “different”, I started writing them down.  I’ve now accumulated several bullets for each sense (taste, smell, sound, touch, sights).  But for the sake of read-ability, I’m going to split it into two or more posts (since these posts are more word-heavy than picture-heavy).


I’ve written this type of post before when I went to Greece and it’s one of my favorite posts to go back and read from time to time.  It immediately transports me back to that wonderful trip.  Anyway, here’s what I’ve accumulated so far.  I’m already looking forward to two years from now when I can look back and re-read this post and re-live this trip again as well!

Sounds of El Salvador

  • Roosters crowing at 9:00pm, 12:00am, 3:00am, 6:00am and whenever they feel like it
  • Dogs barking
  • Gnats flying around your ears at night when you’re on your computer with the lights out
  • The song that comes on the radio whenever they are about to announce a death in the town
  • Construction on the roads without any warning
  • Pigeons cooing outside your window
  • Spanish that slowly morphs from “babbling” to complete conversations
  • “Andrea” pronounced with a Spanish accent
  • The out-of-tune church singer down the street at dinner on Wednesdays
  • Children’s laughter on Sunday afternoons
  • The blood pressure cuff taking someone’s pressure at the clinic
  • Metal doors of houses opening and shutting
  • Pots and pans rattling in the kitchen in the morning
  • Listening for David’s truck outside the house signaling that he’s arriving or leaving

Sights of El Salvador

  • Funeral processions going down the main street (pick-up truck with the casket at the front and dozens of people walking after it)
  • Trees with the same flower but different color (white, orange, cream, blush, pink, purple, red, etc.) all over the country
  • The view from the top of Alegria’s volcano
  • The beautiful emerald-green color of the lake in the middle of the volcano
  • Signs for ferreterias (hardware stroes) along the roadside
  • People selling green mangoes along the side of the road between large towns
  • The beautiful garden at the clinic from the nurses’ station window
  • Kaitlin’s pet bunny begging for food at the dinner table
  • More ants than you wish you’d see

This is by no means a comprehensive list of everything that I’ve experienced, but what I hope is a good sampling of everything.  Stay tuned for the rest of the list! 


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Making Tortillas (The Real Deal)

Sólo he estado en El Salvador cuarenta y tres días

If you know me, you know that I like to cook.


Whether it’s baking cookies for the staff I work with at the clinic, cinnamon toast crunch cupcakes for ladies’ night at the church, or chicken parmesan for dinner, I enjoy it to the fullest.

But this cooking adventure was a little more than I had taken on before; I was going to be cooking tortillas!!  You may remember from a previous post that Kaitlin was astonished that I had never made tortillas before.  (Imagine that, a gringa that had never actually made tortillas… haha)

Well I’m happy to say that I lived to tell the tale of making tortillas, and I’m here to share with you all how to make them.  (Note: I was told that making tortillas successfully on your first try can usually be described as a “happy accident” since there isn’t much room for error.  So I may not make tortillas again soon so that way I have a long time to boast about how well they turned out haha)


Step 1: Gather ingredients: flour (5 c), salt (2t), baking powder (2.5t), shortening (.5c), hot water(1.5-2c). (M&M container sitting temptingly close is completely optional.)


Step 2: Mix ingredients together except for water. Pour the hot water into the flour mixture and mix with your hands.  Be warned that hot water and bare hands do not mix well together so be prepared.  Also, make the process as messy as possible.



Step 3: Knead dough and let sit for 20 min.


Step 4: Make 18 balls of dough with the dough and let sit again for 20 min.


Step 5: Roll the balls of dough out and place immediately on the hot griddle.  (Also, do not be ashamed of your PVC pipe rolling pins.)



Step 6: Cook tortillas only a few seconds on each side.


Step 7: Take the tortillas off the griddle and keep warm under a towel or in tortilla warmer until served.


Step 8: Celebrate amazing, homemade tortillas with a celebratory picture!! (No matter how blurry it may be!)


Step 9 (optional): Brag (humbly, of course!) to every Salvadorian woman you know that you made tortillas for dinner and be prepared for their response: “Oh good! Now you can get married!” 😉


Filed under El Salvador, Experiences, Food, World Gospel Mission

Instagram-ing My Way Across Central America

Sólo he estado en El Salvador cuarenta días

Besides my blog, one of the best ways to see what I’m doing in El Salvador and Honduras is to follow me on Instagram (@a_morrow_). It’s very easy for me to update it since I take lots of pictures on my iphone and whenever I have internet, I upload them.  But I know that not everyone has Instagram so I wanted to put them here so everyone could see them!

These pictures will hopefully give you some detail shots of what my days have been like here in Central America.


“Packed for El Salvador! #onemoreday #lehhgo”


“Loading up on my favorites one last time #20hourstogo”




“When bunnies fall asleep in your arms>>>>>> #elsalvador”


“One more bunny pic. Because when can you ever have too many bunnies?!”


“Nursing status #elsalvador”


“Watching the UNC dook game all the way in El Salvador #goheels”


“Favorite line in El Salvador so far: ‘You don’t know how to make tortillas?!’ Ha. Thanks Kaitlin :)”


“Definitely the highlight of my week. Just smile at them and you’re instant friends 🙂 #elsalvador


“Joke’s on you, North Carolina- it’s snowing in #elsalvador too! #justkidding #its99degrees”


“Good morning! #elsalvador”


“Teaching this cutie to draw today #elsalvador”


“I call this ‘Andrea Goes International Thrift Shopping’ #dreamcometrue #elsalvador”


“NOM. #cinnamontoastcrunch #elsalvador”


“First day in the lab! (These are white and red blood cells that I prepared on the slide.) #elsalvador


“After the hottest day yesterday, I’m thankful for these clouds and a cooler day. #elsalvador”


“And the baking marathon begins! #elsalvador #cookiesfor30people”

“Seven dozen cookies later… and still not done. It’s a good thing I love baking! #elsalvador #bakingforavillage”


“Homemade taquitos for David’s birthday #allwedoiseateateat #elsalvador”


“Imagine going to the bathroom and looking up to see this… #myliferightnow #elsalvador”


“That time I travelled to #Honduras for a week to translate for a medical team…”


“Puppy time in #Honduras!!! (Also, this girl is going to the BEACH today!)


“Visited Siete de Mayo today- one of the poorest towns I’ve been to since coming to Central America. #Honduras”


“It was so humbling to serve these people medically today. So sad to see their living conditions though. #Honduras”


“Just now realizing how addicted I am to Natural Juice in #Honduras #fourdaysinarow #betterthansmoothieking”


“Happy to be back in #elsalvador (if only for 3 days)! Celebrating with fresh flowers.”


“Literally crossing the #Honduras/#ElSalvador border this morning.”

I hope that was able to show you some more detail photos of what I’ve gotten to experience so far in El Salvador and Honduras! I still have to work on writing those larger main idea posts but limited internet access plus not a lot of free time equals limited blog posts.

Anyway, if you have an account, follow me on Instagram! (@a_morrow_) Thanks for coming and reading!


Filed under El Salvador, Honduras, Uncategorized

A Long Over-due Post

Sólo he estado en El Salvador veinticinco días

After twenty five days in El Salvador, frogs in the bathroom, ants in the kitchen, and sleeping with bug spray on are becoming second nature to me now.  The rooster next door isn’t that annoying anymore but ask me again at 3AM when I’d rather be sleeping. 🙂

My days in the clinic are becoming more routine; I now split my time between the nurses’ station and the laboratory where I prepare the blood that’s been drawn for creatinine, glucose, uric acid, hematocrit, white blood cell, red blood cell, and cholesterol levels.

My Spanish is getting better but I still have good and bad days.  I’m definitely able to understand much more than when I first got here which  I contribute a lot of to understanding individuals’ accents.  I am so thankful for the patience of everyone at the clinic when I talk to them, since having conversations with them have definitely contributed most to my growth in Spanish.  I’m also able to practice my Spanish a lot at church, especially since it’s a different group of vocabulary than at the clinic.

If you know me, you know that I love to bake and cook.  Well ever since I started telling people that, I have been dubbed the “officially unofficial baker”.  There’s a work team from Elon College in Virginia that’s here for a week for their spring break and Debbie recruited me to cook dozens of cookies for when they’re here.  I’ve also baked M&M cookies for everyone at the clinic, cinnamon toast crunch cupcakes for ladies’ night at the church, snicker-doodles for the kids at the church yesterday, the chocolate cake for David’s birthday today, and I’m going to teach Vivian how to make apple crisp sometime.  I’m in baking heaven!

Since the work team is here this week, we’ve been able to do some more exciting outings.  (I basically tag along with any work team that’s here and join in on their activities.  For example, I’ll work half days at the clinic this week and then join the teams working in the local schools in the afternoons.)  On Saturday, we went to a nearby town called Alegría, which is on the side of a dormant volcano.  We actually got to drive down into the crater of the volcano then we all hiked up the outside ridge of the volcano to the highest point.  Not only could you see Alegría and other nearby volcanoes, but at one point you could also see the ocean off in the distance.  Definitely a workout, but oh so worth it!!  I would do it again in a heartbeat.  Here’s a sneak peek of what it looked like, but I’m going to write another post just about the trip to Alegría and the volano hike since there are a ton more pictures. 

This is the view from the bottom of the crater in the volcano.  That’s a lake in the middle and it is the most beautiful shade of emerald green.  We ended up hiking up to the highest point, which is on the farthest-most right part of the picture.  It doesn’t look that high from here but there was plenty of uphill climbing.


A picture of me while hiking.  The lake from the previous picture is in the background.  This is only about halfway up the volcano ledge.


One of the views looking out on the valley.  You can see Alegría in the middle of the picture.

I only have a little bit of time before I need to get to the clinic so I think I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves now.  Now that I have a “normal” routine now, I’ll be able to organize and write posts a little easier so be on the lookout for those!


A typical meal for me for lunch.  I usually eat lunch at the clinic (either bringing my own food) or buying food from the “cafeteria” for $1.50.  This plate includes rice, fish, local vegetables, and avocado.  Repeat after me: avocado for breakfast, avocado for lunch, avocado for dinner.  Repeat.  Yum!


Two of my friends from church.  They were the first girls that I met the first Sunday I came here so they have a special place in my heart.  They are sisters and the girl on the left is Gladys (10 years old) and the girl on the right is Wendy (11).


One of the responsibilities of the clinic is traveling to nearby coffee plantation communities to draw blood.  They then test their blood for harmful bacteria.  It allows all of the smaller coffee communities to have a somewhat “local” healthcare option, even though it takes an hour to drive to the plantation.  This picture is not the best quality, but this is a picture of the volcano nearby the plantation.


This is a picture of a poster in the clinic of the doctors.  Someday I will get an actual picture of them all…


A picture of Cristina, Dolóres, and Miriam on the way to Alegría for lunch one afternoon.  Dolóres and Miriam are nurses at the clinic and Cristina works in the front of the clinic in the secretary’s office.


This is Sara and her daughter, Gabi, in Alegría on the same trip as the previous photo.  Sara is the lab technician at the clinic and also attends the same church that I do.  Gabi is 11 months old and positively adorable. 🙂


Only the largest piece of meat that I (jokingly) tried to eat in Alegría.  This is pork (chancho).


One view of Alegría looking down into the valley.  I think this perfectly captures how much I love the architecture here.  Most of the houses and buildings aren’t in very good shape but they are usually painted bright, fun colors and have beautiful iron work on the windows and doors.  More pictures of Alegría to come in a future post.


The church I attend is called Centro Cristiano Familiar.  The father of the family that I’m living with is the pastor although it is a family affair for the family as Vivian, the mother, leads events during the week and the sons, Timmy and Sammy, play in the band and lead youth group on Saturdays.  This is a view of the inside of the church that I attend as it was decorated for the special Valentine’s day youth group event.  


Several of the kids that attend the church.  Could they be any cuter?! 


The laundry situation here is a little different than what I’m used to.  The washing machine is actually outside and you hang your clothes up to dry on the clothesline.  Although it usually requires ironing all of your clothes afterwards, I love how fresh they feel afterwards.  I’m very lucky that I don’t live next to a restaurant or someone who owns lots of smelly animals, otherwise I’m not sure I would feel the same way.


Silly picture of me and Gladys!


Sara and Pati, the two ladies that work in the lab at the clinic.  I love them because they are so patient with me and my Spanish and encourage me to talk with them.

Anway, this is a little glimpse of what my life has been like here for the past three weeks.  Look out for some future posts! 🙂


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Making Tortillas (Or Lack Thereof)

Favorite quote in El Salvador so far: “You don’t know how to make tortillas?!”

Ha- thanks Kaitlin. As if I didn’t already know I was a gringa 😉

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Filed under El Salvador, Experiences, Friends, World Gospel Mission

Bienvenidos a El Salvador!

Sólo he estado en El Salvador cinco días…

Where in the world do I start?  I have now worked at the clinic for three days, gone to church and other church activities at the local church (Centro Cristiano Familiar), tried the national food (pupusas), started slowly getting used to the heat, gone to the local market and bought breakfast food for the week, struggled with my Spanish skills, and practiced my acting skills when I haven’t understood what they’re saying but just laugh and pretend like I do.

Other random things to mention:

  • There is a rooster that wakes me up every morning right around 7:00 am
  • I work at the clinic from 8am to 5pm every weekday (which makes the rooster wakeup call above quite convenient!)
  • Spanish is still a struggle (and will be the whole time I’m here) but I’m noticing now that I constantly try and translate things that I’m thinking to Spanish, just in case someone asks me a question.
  • Kaitlin, the missionaries’ daughter, and I made chocolate peanut butter cake in coffee mugs last night after dinner.  Two words: chocolate overload!
  • My blonde hair is making quite the impact with the nurses in the clinic.  They love it and talk about how much they would love hair my color.
  • The Hawks (missionary family) have a pet bunny which basically makes this whole trip worth it.  Yesterday I held the bunny like a baby and it actually FELL ASLEEP in my arms.  Best ever!

Now for some pictures from the past five days…

IMG_1870A picture of the clinic and garden outside.


The Hawk’s pet bunny, Oscar.


Kaitlin and the mug of delicious peanut butter chocolate cake we made in it.


Oscar fell asleep in my arms! Love that bunny.


Gratuitous nursing self picture.


Panorama view of the nurses’ station and the waiting room in the distance.  (If you click on the picture you can see a larger version.)


Papaya!  I bought this at the market on Monday as well as fresh green beans, strawberries, avocados,  and bananas.

I also wanted to send out a big thank you to everyone who sent money to WGM to the David V. King Medical Center!  You all are seriously awesome 🙂


Filed under El Salvador, Experiences, Uncategorized

Leaving for El Salvador

Come tomorrow morning at 7:15AM, I will be on a plane bound for El Salvador for the next three months!

The short version of my plans for those three months is that I will be working as a CNA at the David V. King Medical Center in Jucuapa, El Salvador.  But for the long version, click on the “El Salvador” tab on the header.  That’s where you can find all the good stuff, including maps of El Salvador, a video of the clinic I will be working at, and some more specifics about what I’ll be doing.

I will be updating this blog periodically and as time allows so please continue to drop by! (Or subscribe to my blog to get an email whenever I write a new post.  Just enter your email on the “Follow Blog via Email” to the right.)

imagePacked and ready to go!

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Music Monday: Hallelujah

My last final exam is tomorrow at noon so I thought this song would would be appropriate.  I’ll be singing hallelujah HALLELUJER tomorrow for sure!

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