Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Greetings from El Salvador

I made it to El Sal about midnight Friday night. I caught the bus just outside of Puntarenas at about 4:30 am. We made good time and were only about 3 hours behind schedule. Most of the delays came trying to cross the borders, there are three between here and Costa Rica. I was able to sit by the window for a small part of the journey and it is striking how different Costa Rica is from the rest of Central America, even through a bus window. The poverty is much more apparent and is not hidden from tourists the way it is in Costa Rica.

El Espino, the town I am staying in, is still struggling with many social problems all of which stem from or in the least are amplified by the extreme poverty that is El Salvador. My friend Carlos is deeply dedicated to improving conditions here and spends 90 percent of his time working in, about and for the community. He is very passionate about his work and is motivated by a dep love for his country and his community. It is very inspiring to be around him. He is also a lot of fun and "ornery as all get out."

El Espino, as well as all of El Salvador, is currently suffering from a massive gang problem. It is complicated by a lot of factors including the palpable absence of working age adults/parents, the deportation of gang members from the states, massive unemployment, lack of social services and, again, poverty. The poeple here live with violence and the threat of violence every minute of every day. Salvadorans have become quite accustomed to having guards with rifles patrolling everywhere; restaurants, parking lots, etc. I still have the privilege of noticing. In the three days I have been here, I have attended the viewing of a young girl that died from a bacterial infection, played soccer with kids in the "park" (the space between the highway and the pillars of the overpass), and greeted the local gang kids. I'm back to bucket baths and outhouses. (Carlos' family is actually one of the fortunate families that has access to potable water for a few hours every other day.) To tell the truth, my vacation from Peace Corps feels morelike "Peace Corps" than my Peace Corps experience. Not that there aren't problems in Costa Rica... there most certainly are, but I find myself wondering if I couldn't be more useful here. I believe everything happens for a reason, and that I am where I am suppose to be, but I can't help but think that El Sal may be in my future...


Anonymous said...

Hi Kelley, I was really moved by this particular writing. It all goes back to government, if a people are allowed the freedom to work and to prosper, to be rewarded for their work, as we have in our democratic, capitalist, society, life is pretty darn good. A study of governments around the world clearly demonstrates that when a people lacks freedom, they also lack prosperity.

Your Mom is so excited to be seeing you, I know you will have a great time. Must get to work, so until later..

Aunt Dee

Anonymous said...

Hi Kelley, I've been staying caught up on the blogs but haven't responded lately. I guess it's because if I can't fix it or help fix it I feel at a loss for words. I keep you in my mind and heart always and wish you the best of everything and hope that you feel like you are helping in some way. I know that just your presence is making a difference. Love Ya DJP