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EL Salvador 6

Wed, 23 Jan 2008

Hi again from El Salvador- I think I am writing these daily journals for myself as much as anybody just to remember it all!

Well the forecast was for +35C again! I hope this report isn't getting tedious! Actually, it isn't bad if you can stay out of the heat and not be overly active. It is the dry season here although it seemed a bit more on the humid side today.

My stomach seems to be holding its own as long as I don't do anything I'm OK. The guy with the bedbug bites counted them.....there are 126! He is quite a sight! He thinks he got them when he went for an overnight visit to a family that was living in rather poor conditions.

We went to a village today where the people were relocated after the 2001 hurricane. Much of the cost for buying the land, building the houses etc. was paid for by Rainbow of Hope. These were people who were unable to get help from the government here because they didn't own any property to begin with (before the hurricane)....and so they had `fallen through the cracks and were essentially homeless. So, a community was started on stable land about an hour's drive from San Salvador. To get there you travel on very mountainous roads sometimes on the very ridge that is not much wider than the road itself! It makes for some very spectacular scenery with the high volcanic mountainous terrain and wide sweeping valleys covered with thick tropical vegetation. And so our road went up and down, twisting and turning and went from beautiful a kind of cobblestone plain old powdery dirt!

The community was there to greet us at the end of the road! There are about 23 families and are located on a ridge of land that to me has one of the most spectacular views I have ever seen! You can see the Pacific ocean in the distance which is 12 KM away. My question was...why would you build on a ridge if there are such risks of hurricanes?? Apparently the biggest problem with hurricanes is the torrential rains (mudslides) if vegetation has been planted to hold the soil, it isn't bad to be high up! And so they have homes for the first time in their lives which they are very proud of. They are of course very simple 2-3 room block houses that are whitewashed different colors but they have planted little gardens around them with both fruit trees and flowers. There are no vehicles so the `streets' are just dirt walking paths. The biggest problem is getting water. The women walk to get water 4 times a day from a stream down below on a path so steep that it's hard to believe that it's possible! The people were very happy w were there and the children led us through the town up and down (and I mean up and down)all the streets. The place had a wonderful ambience and felt like a community in the true sense of the word. The people seem to have a lot of children , so there were lots of babies and everything thereon up. They seem to have a lot of attention from each other....often with the young children carrying the babies around. So you can imagine that there were a lot of Kodak moments to take advantage of....and we did! The kids really get a kick out of seeing themselves in the digital photos!. As you can imagine, it was a very peaceful place without the noise of vehicles. The cooking is all done outside over an open fire. Every house seems to have a hand grinder for grinding maize for tortillas and there seems to be a lot of chickens (and of course dogs!). It seemed to be a place from back in time...They haven't at all taken the help they have been given for granted and have a plan that they are following on how they are going to finish their community. Each house has a composting toilet plus a way of filtering the household `grey'water through sand filters so that it can be used for watering plants and gardens. A feast was prepared for us of roasted rabbit, roasted chicken, tortillas, rice, soup, and a variety of cooked local seasonal vegetables (squash, corn on the cob, carrots, beans....) The community are with us too. They all seemed both shy and excited to have us there. I am sure this doesn't happen every day there! There were a lot of emotional (almost tearful) speeches thanking both us and God for the help and for us coming to be with them. It was quite an event! And so we headed back to town, the contrast in their lives seeming all the more dramatic when you see some of the high end malls and homes here which can look much like palaces!

I must say that all the people that we encounter are extremely friendly! Many of them are quite young and eager to please. It's the security with sawed off shotguns, in pretty much every parking lot (whether it be a restaurant, optician, or just a regular parking lot) that leads you to believe that there's a darker side to what you see! Well this will have to be enough for today. We will have another full day tomorrow going to one of the coffee plantations.

I think it should be cool enough to sleep by now....probably in the low +20'sC....sorry, but that's the way it is.

Bye for now,

V & C