Hola a todas de El Salvador!
¡Hola a todas de El Salvador! Hoy llegamos al pais. My first impressions: it's hot, tiny, green, much less developed than cushy Thousand Oaks, California, and in general, people are friendly and welcoming. Walking out of the airport was a sensory overload, especially because we were all exhausted from our night flight. The flight was fine from what I vaguely remember. It was a different flying experience what with the Spanish announcements. I think after a few weeks or months I would feel comfortable in a lengthy conversation with a native speaker, but right now I'm brushing up. It's easy for me to read/write/understand spoken Spanish, but thinking about conjugation and grammar on the spot is a bit nerve racking and my lack of confidence makes me speak even worse! Ay.
The landscape here is a sight to see — many types of foliage and unusual plants and fruits. It's a shame we probably won't eat those fruits because of the potential infections. It's keeping us all on our toes — the threats of malaria and gastrointestinal distress, especially...
Tomorrow we start building and I'm both apprehensive and eager to begin. I'm not thrilled about the intense heat and lack of cold water, but I can deal. Right now I just don't quite know what to expect.
On another random note — today our group walked to the local Santa Ana mall. It felt really strange. What really was disconcerting though was the lion (yes, lion-actually, lioness) that was in a cage on display. The animal looked depressed or bored and it had no water and the locals were taking photos of it with its lion cubs. Also, the cubs were on display — I think there were four total — and Salvadorian men offered to let people in the crowd take a photo holding a cub for $3.00. The whole spectacle made me upset — I can only imagine how shoppers would react to something like that in the states if it weren't illegal.
Another thing — the blatantly obvious unequal distribution of wealth is shocking. Alejandro, a native Salvadorian who now lives in T.O. and is on our trip told us that it's common for mall employees to make about $5.00 a day. How can you live on that? I wouldn't even be able to afford my rent, let alone have nice clothes, a car, and a college education, and other luxuries. But I suppose that's what brings our group here — to help make a contribution and provide something as basic as sufficient shelter. Tonight I'm slightly disillusioned with the way life is in most of the word — the world outside our privileged college lives in the US-but I'm looking forward to the rest of our trip.
More to come! ADIOS!
— Meg Boberg '08 Ithaca College