Tag Archives: santa tecla

Palacio de Santa Tecla

This is my favorite building in Santa Tecla. It is referred to as the Palacio de Santa Tecla, though the official title is Palacio Municipal de Bellas Artes.

It is estimated that it was built as a home in 1911 for the Castaneda family. Between 1924 and 1927, the property became part of the municipality in order to pay a debt the family owed to the city. It was considered a jewel, with 17 rooms, imposing columns and the central courtyard highlighting the eclectic colonial style.

Over the years, this building deteriorated by inclement weather and natural disasters. The January 2001 earthquake caused more damage. However, the city joined efforts with the Government of Andalusia Spain to restore and preserve the original architectural details. Today, it serves as an artistic venue for children, youth and adults. You can see in the photo above the local regimental band playing at the monthly concert.

Source for text: https://sites.google.com/site/historiadesantatecla/una-sorpresa


Last Friday, the school held the coronation of the Reina de las Flores (Queen of the Flowers). It is an annual event and the Queen and her court ride in the parade in September. The girls started and ended the day in very pretty dresses, but a creative and no less pretty touch came mid-day. All of the girls made dresses from recycled materials, including plastic bags, newspapers, empty snack bags and balloons. Here are a few images.

Recycling here is different from the US. There are some, not a lot, of recycling bins, sure. But really, people use and repurpose things endlessly. Just because something is slightly broken and not quite functional does not mean you throw it out. I had trouble finding scrap card board for a project because people use it for other purposes. When my big quart container of yogurt was empty, my landlady happily accepted the empty container to reuse to store things in. The pan we use to heat water for tea or coffee has no handles. We just use a towel as a pot holder to pick it up when it’s hot. Reusing and repurposing is alive and well down here. It is an economic necessity. The people are as innovative and creative as the girls who made these dresses.

Lessons Learned – Week Two

Regimental Band at the Alcadia

It is the end of my second week. I’m a quarter of the way through my stay here. I’d say I am a familiar face along the streets I travel. Between where I stay and the school, I exchange a “Buenas” with many people. I’ve made some friends and have some social invitations.

Here is what I’ve learned this week:

You can use your iPhone to look up lyrics to songs and get kids to sing along with you in English.
I knew it was the rainy season here but did not realize this was considered winter. As part of me feels ripped off that I get two winters this year and the other part of me says that if it this hot in winter, I don’t want to be here in summer.

A group of ten excited, shrieking girls can generate more decibels than a jet engine at take off.

When you say “Su lapiz esta a la pisa”, instead of “Su lapiz esta a el piso”, the girls will think you are telling them their pencil is on the pizza instead of the floor. They will laugh at you… Laugh with them

We learn a language in a very sterile environment; a classroom or Skype that has no distracting noises. But, we practice it in places with the sounds of traffic, music, and people talking around us. It makes it challenging.

During class, if you pull out your bottle of hand sanitizer to get marker off of your hands, the students will all want a drop of hand sanitizer too.

Walking the street in the morning, you hear everywhere the sound of tortillas being patted out by hand.

The people of El Salvador are both appreciative and generous.

The image above is the local regimental band playing their monthly concert at the alcaldia (city hall).

The Name of the Game

The object down here is to get the students to use English; listening reading writing and speaking. Ariela, one of my teacher told me that children don’t like grammar, they like games and fun. I spent months working on ideas. Part of it is scalability. Some ideas work great for a small class but not a group of thirty plus who have a lot of energy.

One idea that I came across involves beach balls. We are teaching the students about members of the family. On the ball is written types of family members (mother, father, etc). When they catch the ball, they are to say the word that their left hand is touching or closest to. This was not initially successful, mostly because we did not exercise enough control in teaching the activity and the first groups basically batted it around like Olympic beach volleyball. I’ve since developed a way to teach the game that is still fun and educational while not letting it get too crazy.

Those little paper fortune tellers have been an interesting experiment. Most days, I make one in the morning and another in the afternoon. Then I sit in the courtyard playing with it. Eventually, a group of girls comes over and wants to play. But to play they have to say the numbers and letters in English. Then, they have to count and spell in English. And of course, the fortunes are in English. I make these daily and after playing a while, I give it to one of the girls and hope she continues to use it in English. This is a bit of a sneaky way to get them to use English but it works.

The final photo shows a quiz game using The Simpsons. Much of the world knows The Simpsons. This too is used to teach the students about the family. I use photos of The Simpsons and create a family tree. We review the family tree and then I have a set of multiple choice questions. The class is divided into three groups and we play the game show style. I carry on like Regis Philbin of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. The girls all seem to want to give their answer in Spanish but I’ll only accept the answer in English. Prizes are awarded to the winning team. Somehow, I always end up giving out more prizes that there are girls on the winning team, but it is all good fun. Also, it gets them invested in learning the English names for family members like nothing else we tried.
Note: Photo credit for the last image to Gerson, one of the people who helps make the program here work.

Mi Colonia – My Neighborhood

Time to show you where I am staying. Our area is pretty good. It is common for small shops to share space with dwellings. There are a lot of security gates and such.

The first three shots show the Pupuseria Merliot across the street from where I live. They are a nice family trying to make a go of it in a place in which every street has a little restaurant selling pupusas (stuffed tortillas). They wonder why I don’t eat more pupusas.

Next is a shot of Taco Loco and I live in the casita to the left. Taco Loco does a great business. Between this and the pupuseria, I am never hungry. You can see a couple of the guys who work there. The next shot shows the side of the street where I live.

Next is El Comedor de la Ahijada de Marina. My landlady works here. You can get a nice lunch for a few dollars. There is more variety than the pupuseria.

After that, you can see a small convenience store. Unless they can afford security, small tiendas like this usually work through a grate of some sort. Finally are shots of out local pharmacy and bakery. Bakeries are almost as common as pupuserias here.

Welcome to the neighborhood!

First Day of School

Here are some first images of the school where I am teaching. They are like school girls everywhere. When they are on break, they are giddy and have a lot of energy. They play games and braid each other’s hair. They chase one another and then when the person being chased is caught the pursuer has not idea what to do, so they laugh and hug. And sometimes, there are photobombs involved.

P.S. Apologies if I have not been as attentive as usual to people liking my posts, especially new viewers. It is a rather intense schedule here.

Welcome to Santa Tecla

I am alive and well and living here in Santa Tecla, El Salvador. I spent the weekend getting to know the city. There are traditional markets with individual stalls in which you can buy one type of item (clothes, fresh vegetables, fruits, etc) and a supermarket that rivals anything we have in the US. Walk down any street and you’ll find a pupuseria, making the national dish, pupusas; or perhaps a panaderia selling fresh baked goods. Often these are set up in the front of people’s homes. I’ve learnt how to get from the house where I am staying to the school in which I’ll teach and to the local markets. I’ve eaten way too many times in my neighborhood and need to branch out a little bit.

Today, I thought that I would show you a bit of one of the central plazas called Parque Daniel Hernandez. It is hot in Santa , and I decided to hang out here on Saturday afternoon to take advantage of the shade and cool breeze. A few hundred locals also showed up. Among the crowd were people selling food and clothing. An ice cream cone is $.35, but there is only Neapolitan flavor. You can buy belts, boxer shorts, shirts and socks.
Hanging out, I got to meet some of the locals. I’ll introduce you to one tomorrow.

FYI – My internet access is very spotty. If you comment and you don’t hear back from me right away, my apologies.