22 February 2009 Travel

Day 9

Part 10 of El Salvador Trip Journal

8:05 AM

My bags are packed and I’m ready to go. I’m a bit sad to be leaving so soon, but at the same time I’m sure that I’ll come back to this part of the world again sometime. The last thing we have planned before heading to the airport is to buy hammocks in the market.

11:47 AM

Wow… the Usulutan market, what a place! People crowded in over every square inch of the place, selling all sorts of things: bootleg CDs, raw meat hanging from hooks, toothbrushes, tomatoes, cashews, clothing, you name it. Makeshift stalls with tarps covered the street strewn with garbage. A warm, sticky smell hung in the air as thousands of people – and a few trucks – passed by us in the 3-metre-wide street. There were a few beggars taking up the space on the street corners, looking up with amazement as we walked by. Surprisingly, I only heard one or two calls of “Hey baby!” or “Gringo!”. We all bought hammocks; probably the best souvenir yet. They’re so colourful… we managed to push the price down from $25 to $15 each, thanks to Dennis.

We’ve just sat down to our final meal here at Hotel Campo Real – pupusas with beans! Yum yum. In less than 12 hours, we’ll touch down at Pearson.

2:33 PM

Well, that was easy. Security is pretty lax here at the San Salvador airport. The plane boards in an hour and a half. Lindsay and I are at the gate, minding the bags (and the $1800 cash that are in the bags). The others are out shopping. I have one whole dollar left on me. I think I’ll spend it on candy.

(Eastern time) 8:00 PM

The plane ride has been pretty good so far, despite some turbulence and the fact that we didn’t get to sit together. Lindsay, Melissa, Susie, and I have single seats in economy class, while for some reason the rest of the group got bumped up to business class. They just finished showing City of Ember, which was a pretty good movie. I didn’t get to see the very beginning, But I think I understood most of it. The lady to my left speaks only spanish and is from Managua. she’s applying for a Canadian citizenship. The lady to my right is an American high school librarian who speaks only english and is returning from a vacation in Costa Rica.

The Nicaraguan lady asked what time it was – the American lady was the only one with a watch, so I had to translate for her: “Ocho de la noche.” In a funny way, I feel like that’s a fitting metaphor for the reason and purpose of my trip to El Salvador: to seek a middle ground between two vastly different cultures. Sure, I came to build a house… but the masons and hired help could easily have done it without us. Sure, I’ve bonded with my friends in residence, but we could have got to know each other on a trip anywhere. I think the biggest thing that I’ve taken away from spending a week in El Salvador is a greater knowledge and appreciation of a social atmosphere completely unlike my own. The trip has opened my eyes to a different way of living that is more family-centred, a tight-knit community that’s so intertwined with each other, it blows my mind. We played for an afternoon in a soccer field with a bunch of neighbourhood kids that we’d never met before. In Canada, their parents would tell them not to talk to strangers. I don’t know if I’m gonna have some culture shock or not when I get back, but I hope that everything I experienced in El Salvador will stay in the back of my mind when I look at my own life.

Sam Nabi


Auntie Kathy & Uncle Jeff 1 March 2009, 15:41

Hey Sam! What a terrific time you had. It was great to be able to read your diary – I’m so glad you shared it with us so vividly! We got a sense of the buzz of activity and community.

Uncle Jeff wants to share that cement trucks here are still only used for poured concrete jobs like poured concrete foundations, walls, walkways, etc. It’s a different cement (Portland) without stones in it. But when you do block foundations and stone work, Masonry Cement still needs to be mixed by hand!

He knows how hard you worked with the mixing. You mentioned ‘looking at birds’ at the pool – I imagine them to be quite colorul? There are birding trips to El Salvador – did you see a lot of exotic birds?

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