Monday, June 10, 2013

First Impressions

El Salvador seems so far to be a blend of the chaotic and peaceful.

Chaos: Tossing our bags into the bed of a pickup and climbing in the back seat – four of us with our backpacks – before zooming wildly down the freeway, weaving around slow trucks and trying hard not to spill our coconut water, fresh from the side of the road, on our laps.
Peace: Turning abruptly into the gated community of COAR (Comunidad de Oscar A. Romero), a small complex where children who have lost or are searching for their parents can find refuge and attend school, safe from gangs and violence.

Chaos: The city of San Salvador, which is filled with lush greenery and flowering trees that seem out of place next to the streets teeming with potholes and people out among buildings of concrete squished side by side. They look out of place next to the flowers, or is it the other way around?
Peace: Margarita’s soft – but not soft-spoken – voice as she and Ruth, the two Pastoral workers with whom we’ll be working more closely while we’re here, introduce us to the humble men and women in the Pastoral office, located in the middle of all the chaos.

Chaos: Up in the communities, the same potholed streets and juxtaposition of human life and sprawling forest, although this time the roads turn to dirt and the homes are impoverished, built of concrete covered in dust and tin roofs, standing alongside scattered trash and junk.
Peace: The volunteers, who listen earnestly to the workshop on preparaciĆ³n Bocachi, which they will take back to their own communities so that they may start their own small gardens.

This is how things seem to be. There is no self-pity regarding the conditions down here. What exist instead are the recognition of poverty and poor health and the staunch desire to make a change, and that is what is so inspiring.

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