Oh, the people you meet! And they all are willing to talk about why they are in El Salvador. T-shirt logos can reveal much about the wearers. One caught my attention recently in El Salvador and provided an opener.
“Are you SURE about that?” began the long conversation with the young thirty-ish guy wearing it who was trying to defend his shirt. I jumped in to explain, “Don’t worry; he’s a retired Lutheran pastor just giving you a hard time.” The wearer let down his guard. He then countered with, “You should see the one I got my atheist brother-in-law.”
STOP, DROP, ROLL
WON’T WORK IN HELL
As it turned out, he was half of a young couple on a Habitat for Humanity work crew in El Salvador. We encountered a half dozen or so groups of them on our last trip. They were working all over the country, feverishly building, building, building. Many of them had made multiple trips here finding this service to be a very fulfilling as well as enjoyable project. They were all ages from teenagers to retired individuals. They love to talk.
Another large group of young people was the Peace Corp volunteers from all over the country. This group of about 25 was a remarkable, dedicated group who took some time out from the intensity of their individual assignments to gather together to watch the U.S. Presidential election.
Many individuals work on all kinds of graduate studies in El Salvador. One was interested in “transformational development of the individual.” When her Canadian college advisor heard the topic she wanted to pursue, he immediately sent her to El Salvador knowing that was a hot spot for transformation. Because this is a small country, these people tend to bump into one another enhancing their empirical knowledge through the networking process.
Some travelers are simply passing through such as the two twenty-something tall, blonde sisters from the Netherlands. They began their backpacking journey in Panama and were hiking up through Central America. When we met them, they still had Honduras, Cuba, Belize, and Mexico to conquer before flying home.
There was no real itinerary. As they heard about places to see and things to do along the way, they stopped. We met people who came for a funeral and decided to stay and explore. A well-traveled elderly couple visited El Salvador on a stopover to see its historical and indigenous art. Another family flew here “on miles” to visit family while enroute to the southern hemisphere. They had just hired a local to take them into the forests to show their daughter the monkeys.
Many free-lance writers gravitate toward this place called El Salvador. Here they find an open slate filled with issues that stimulate their creativity. We spent a half-day with one writer who writes primarily on social issues.
Some individuals come to the country to visit and never leave. Others live here for several years, leave, but return repeatedly staying forever connected to the gentle people with whom they form relationships. Translators are always in demand and those with fluent Spanish can easily find short-term work in that field.
El Salvador seems to be a magnet for lots of kinds of people. Each one is a gem in a treasure chest waiting to be discovered. We have been fortunate to be in their paths and get to know many of them.