It’s been a good couple of weeks in El Paredon.

After giving a talk at Hub Islington in London about La Choza Chula, a web designer called Mar has offered us pro bono work to build us a new website from the current blog we own with an online shop. It will be  It is very refreshing to be working with someone who is so professional, especially compared to the lazy working culture here.

The kids have been busy making new products – badges/magnets, lots of drawings and painted pots. You can see them here.

We’re excited about our trip to Mexico on Thursday for 10 days, primarily to check out the Day of the Dead celebrations in Oaxaca and also visit some projects around San Cristobel de las Casas.

Although we love our lives in El Paredon, both Carla and I feel there is more out there to discover and the lack of a social life, coupled with a dengue scare and the desire to work and live with more like-minded people, means we’ve made the decision to advertise our jobs for 6 months while we investigate other opportunities. I’m thinking of travelling through El Salvador (and hopefully trying to surf the slightly more friendly waves) down to Nicaragua and try and find a development job or set up a new project there.  The Mayor has agreed to continue to pay 2 (very basic) salaries which is fantastic news so the project can be sustainable. It’s a great sense of achievement.

It’s been fab having Bianca to stay for a few weeks – although she often had to share the mattress on the floor with our dog Cuzca and for a few nights our house was also a hostel – with a nice American – Ivan – and Guatemalan friend Rodrigo – camping in our garden. Bianca brought loads of energy and humour to our lives and made us realise we need to be somewhere where we can make more longer-term friends – not just lurking at surf camp waiting to see if any new tourists can be potential buddies for a couple of days.

The Mayor visited our workshop and was really impressed. The kids were on angelic form but turned back into lunatics when the Mayor left and they’d drunk the fizzy pop the Mayor gave us. We felt pleased he supports the project though.

Ah, the Mayor…although it’s great he pays us, getting our pay (for the last 2 months) has been painful work. We have been to his home for 5 mornings this week – each time having to wait 2 hours (in hammocks at least) to speak to him and only this morning did he finally pay up, dishing out cash in front of his entire family and bodyguards. We had totally ran out of money and his sister in law felt sorry for us and gave us a big box of cornflakes and some pancake mix to keep us going (although we had run out of gas too and couldn’t cook) It feels good to be able to get treats again – which here means honey, internet credit, fizzy drinks, a haircut. We are so lucky that we can usually buy food and gas, unlike a lot of the people here who only have one meal a day.

Some really nice Mexican surfers came to town and Omar took some really beautiful video footage of the workshop. He has promised to make us a short video – fingers crossed! We’re going to track him down in San Cristobel and force him to make it…..

Oh and I’ve been doing some photography workshops with the kids – mainly they only want to take photos of each other so I need to make it more structured and less about them trying on sunglasses….


Home sweet home

our adopted dog, Cuzca

We’ve been back in El Paredon for a week now. And it’s so good to be back. You never really know how you feel about a place until you leave it and for me, the sense of excitement on the boat as the village came into view, the 20 kids that ran up and hugged us tight, the smiles from Priscilla, skeptical that we would ever return, the roar of the sea and the relief to enter our house, made me realise how much this place is now my home. After crashing at different friends and family houses, touring the UK and starting to get caught up again in the need to have stuff and buy stuff, dress well, have a job that takes up most of your time and energy and live in a little bubble unit, it is so nice to be back here and feel myself again, free to live a better life. And not be spending, spending. Or analyzing, analyzing. Just being being.

There are lots more turtle eggs that have been buried in the sand, ready for release 45 days later.

The surf is a lot gentler than when we left which means I might, after 6 months, gain the courage to try for the bigger waves. Someone stole my leash (no surprise no one knows who) but Charlie, our American surfer friend, has returned via a 3 week grueling drive from Boston to El Paredon and given me a new one. It’s great to have him back. He is going to sell surfboards and start a little pizza business, which would be superb for the town (especially for us).

And more good news – the whole town has been sprayed and our shower ‘basin’ fixed (which used to be a breeding ground for mosquitos) so now there are far fewer mosquitos than before. I am being uber careful and putting repellent on 24/7 as I don’t want another dengue fever re-run but I’ve decided not to scarper to higher ground just yet as I haven’t got any bites yet (only a nasty allergic rash from overdosing on chicharrones – fried pig skin).

The prettiest dog in town, Cuzca, has re-adopted us and follows us round, sneaking into our workshop and under my bed.

And her human equivalent, Enok, comes round again every day, to hose out crabs from their hole, with a balloon on a string, with a new invention to show us, from things he finds on the street –‘mira!’ I missed this boy as he now has stolen a little piece of my heart.

In my English class, the photocopier failing once more and no paper once more, I did an impromptu photography class – here is a shot the guys took of them as a boy band in their classroom.

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