Wow... my week in El Sal went by really fast. I am now in Palacaguina, Nicaragua visiting another Peace Corps Volunteer. I have only been in town a few hours so there is not too much to report. I came here via the King Quality bus, which is basically a koosh greyhound. It is air conditioned to below freezing and serve meals. I actually went to El Sal on the Tica Bus which is the other koosh line, but they were sold out of tickets. Fortunately, I was able to get this ticket to Nicaragua, unfortunately, there are no seats available to go back to Costa Rica so I will be piecing together over-crowded, un-air conditioned, chicken buses back to Puntarenas. It should be an adventure...
On Wednesday we met up with (another) Carlos in Santa Ana and then met Cecilia a little further North in Anacahuia. I met Carlos and Cecilia in Costa Rica on the Cocotales tour. It was really neat to see them again. Cecelia said that Carlos had told her I was coming but that she didn't believe it. She kept grabbing my arm as if to feel that I was really there. We hiked to Lago Azul. It is a lake that formed in the crater of an extinct volcano. We picniced and played soccer. It was an incredibly beautiful experience and utterly exhausting.
We went to the Playa del Sol on Thursday and went to a concert. It was a lot of fun, we all crashed at Carlos' friends house and slept on hammocks in the front yard. El Salvador is very interesting in that their civil war ended only 15 years ago and since then there has been an incredible boom in franchise stores and restaurants. It is kind of a surreal experience to be here among McDonalds, Texaco stations, Office Depot, and even PriceSmart (basically Sam's Club). Everything is very familiar, yet foreign at the same time. There are very, very few Salvadoran companies meaning that most capital and wealth leaves the country or concentrates itself among the elite. The American Influence here is striking, the main government party (ARENA) is heavily, heavily, (have I emphasized "heavily" yet?)influenced by the American Government. Add to that the fact that reparations from the U.S. account for more than 15% (2004 statistic)of the countries GNP. Everyone I met had at least 2 siblings living in the U.S. It was interesting to be here while the protests for immigration rights were occuring in the states. There is a much, much bigger picture out there.
I got some incredible pictures of some of the Semana Santa activities in El Espino. I will upload pictures as soon as I am able. I wasn't able to get pictures of the procession cuz I left my camera in the house, but take my word for it, it was pretty cool. I will try to do better next year.