Day 1

14 February 2009 Life Travel

Part 2 of El Salvador Trip Journal

4:05 AM

Rise and shine! It’s time to get up, wash my face, have a bite to eat and head out for the airport. We’re in the kitchen, cutting up the poppy seed loaf for everyone to eat.

5:39 AM

We’re at the airport now! Just finished putting tags on our luggage. Waiting for Christina now…

6:20 AM

Well, that was fast. We cleared customs, checked our bags and are now in the lounge waiting for our flight to leave. We’ll be waiting a couple hours. I’m sure we can find things to occupy our time. I wonder what I’ll do with my sweater and sweatpants when we get there…

8:05 AM

Getting ready for takeoff… who’s excited? I am! I’m going to try and learn some spanish from Dad’s old conversation guide so that I can find out where the telegram office and discotheque are.

9:18 AM

Well, I have the window seat but the window is closed because the sun is shining right into it. I’ve got my stylin’ 90s sunglasses though, it’ll be alright. I’ve gotta find somewhere to stash my sweatpants, it’s a good thing I wore swim shorts under them. They’re coming down with the food now. Zumo de manzana, por favor. Sin carne.

(Salvadoran Time) 11:07 AM

I think we may have just flown past the southern edge of the USA. We were flying over land, then we hit a vast expanse of bright blue water. All I can see now is the ocean, with a smattering of clouds.

12:59 PM

Just packed onto the bus that will take us away from the airport. Let the fun begin!

1:18 PM

They paint their trees here. I suppose it’s for repelling insects, but Rob says they do it for aesthetic purposes too. Phone poles and the like are painted red, white, and blue: the colours of the republican party. There will be elections in March, so there’s a lot of propaganda going on. I saw a sign for the FMLN – a sister of the Nicaraguan FSLN?

7:37 PM

What a fabulous place! El Salvador is such a vibrant and colourful place. At least, Usulutan is. OK, first things first. We drove through Usulutan City on our way to the hotel. The hotel is called Campo Real. The city is so colourful, with buildings that are turquoise, red, yellow, pink, absolutely awesome.

We got settled in at the hotel and had a snack – tortillas filled with beans and cheese called pupusas, and cabbage… simply amazing! The first family came in and introduced themselves. They were a father, mother, and toddler daughter who are struggling to make rent. Manuel, the dad, was really excited to help build his future house. I won’t be working on that house though; we’re split into 2 teams, building 2 different houses. We meet the other family on Monday.

After that, we took a trip into the town. It was about a 20-min walk. Certainly an eye-opening experience. The streets are littered with garbage. Stray dogs are commonplace. Vendors line the crowded streets with their grungy makeshift stalls. Children run around barefoot in traffic. And you’d better get out of the way, or a bus will hit you. But there was an undeniable sense of community trust and camaraderie in this setting. We were obviously outsiders, but aside from one cry of “Gringos go home!”, everyone smiled as we walked by. We got lots of horn toots and whistles (there are only 3 guys out of the team of 11 people). It’s so carefree here. Many people are poor, or seem so on the face of it, but a part of me already wants to have grown up here, despite the pollution and low health standards.

Now, we’re all playing cards to wind down after a good swim in the hotel pool. That’ll feel good after a long day of building!

Sam Nabi

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