This morning we woke up early and took Pamela to San Martin for breakfast. She only ate three bites for dinner last night and made up for it with a full typical meal: pupusas (stuffed tortillas) with cortido (shredded pickled cabbage and carrots), platanos fritos (fried plantains) and frijoles (beans). Steve had the same, but I opted for a fresh tropical fruit plate with honey. Then, we drove to the market near Santa Tecla for a huge batch of pupusas to freeze and take home. Steve missed the entrance to the market and did a typical Salvadoren thing with an dual citizenship twist: he drove through the exit into the parking lot and threw the gringo estupido card. The guard started to chew him out, so Steve looked confused, shrugged his shoulders, and waved his hand as if to say he didn't understand. It worked!
When we returned to Julie's apartment, Steve's sister Susie and her husband Roberto were waiting for us. We spent a little time catching up before heading out to lunch with a big group of friends and family. Unfortunately, Julie could not join us for she had a previous engagement with a friend of the family, whom we plan to visit before we leave for El Salvador. We met up with Susie's daughter Andrea and grandson Pablo, Patty and her son Juan, our friend Javier, and Steve's tennis buddies and two of their children. We ate at the deportivo, which is a sports club and gymnasium founded by some people back in the 1940s, including Steve's grandfather. When Steve was a boy, he and his five siblings spent their days there, playing tennis and swimming. They racked up huge soda pop bills: pages and pages of the same entry "Soda 10 cents" amounting to no more than $25 a month. As this was only my fourth visit to El Salvador, I enjoyed finally meeting some of Steve's friends.
Pamela did very well all things considered. We sat at a long table outdoors and patiently waited for people to arrive a few at a time. Then, we ordered drinks, waited, and talked. Then, we ordered appetizers, waited, and talked. Then, we ordered meals, waited, and waited, and talked. Pamela got a little bored so we walked to the horse swings and Tía Patty told her how she used to play on these when she was a little girl. I pointed out the tennis courts where Steve and his friends practically lived when they weren't in school. She hung in there for almost three hours before getting a bit crabby because she needed her downtime.
An interesting thing happened with her cousin Juan Andrés, who is in eighth grade. Yesterday, someone made an off-hand remark that he liked The Simpsons. Pamela suddenly wanted to be his best friend, whereas before she didn't give him the time of day. She kept asking for Juancho and finally the big moment. He spent ten minutes going around the table, giving everyone the mandatory cheek-to-cheek greeting before sitting down next to Pamela. At first, he was a bit thrown off because Pamla had never had a conversation like this with him in his life. Pamela faced him and shook his hand.
Pamela" "How're you?"
Juan: "I'm fine."
Pamela: "Where've you been?"
Juan: "At the apartment!"
Pamela: "What've you been doing?"
Juan: "I've been doing a project."
Pamela was so happy to be talking to him that she began stimming on everything but The Simpsons and that lost poor Juan. He has the Luna charm like his brothers, but he lacks the quality time with Pamela to know how to interact with her. One thing is certain, she has the basics of a simple conversation when she is in the mind to do it. That is something she has never done with Juancho's older brothers, which is another sign of Pamela's progress.
When we got back to Julie's place, Pamela was burnt out, not too burnt out to make Coco go into her basket and shut the door. Later, when it was time for dinner, Rosa, who has such a sweet way of talking to Pamela, asked her for more specifics. She is in the perfect position to be an "equal" partner in conversation because she has to rely heavily on nonverbal communication and single words. They went through the "dos pupusas" routine. She asked Pamela what she wanted to drink. I added, "Rosa is asking about tomar. Do you remember when you read tomar nectar in your butterfly story?" Pamela answered, "Tomar Coca-cola." Then, Rosa did hand motions for big or little. I added, "Pamela, you know these words from the three bears stories." When I did the sign for big, Pamela said grande and, for little, pequeño. Pamela told Rosa, "Pequeño!" and Rosa understood and poured her a small glass of soda. Their interactions beautifully illustrate the power of nothing.
Dinner at the Deportiva with Friends and Family