We made it! Keelin, Imani, Scarlet, David, and I are safely in El Salvador. I can´t even begin to describe all of the things we´ve done over the past few days, so I will just give some highlights.
I think I speak for all of us when I say that the people we have met have been our biggest highlight so far. Margarita and Ruth met us at the airport and they were a wonderful welcoming committee. They are patient with our Spanish and committed to familiarizing us with El Salvador and the work that Pastoral is doing. Yesterday, Mercedes and two other volunteers took us to visit El Paisnal, one of the communities that Pastoral serves. We had a wonderful time meeting Padre Filadelfo who works in that community, as well as his parakeets, dogs, and turtles. Who knew that turtles ate bread?? Certainly not me.
Our excursion to Joya de Cerén to see the ruins was certainly one for the books. Around 600 AD the area was abandoned due to the eruption of a volcano known as Laguna Caldera. The lava actually preserved the ruins so archaeologists have been able to uncover entire buildings and identify their original purposes. We even found ourselves sitting in a replica of a sauna, although the temperatures here have rendered the addition of a fire pretty unnecessary…
We can all now check showering in rain water falling from a roof off of our bucket lists. Our water has mysteriously shut off, but we are becoming masters of improvisation. We even managed to cook a delicious dinner of rice, vegetables, beans, and fried plantains for dinner last night, although the real challenge was washing the dishes.
Today we are beginning to work on digitalizing the maps of various communities in which Pastoral works. Imani and Scarlet are our fearless Quantum GIS software experts and they are hard at work preparing the maps. The whole Pastoral team is supportive and helpful and I am really looking forward to getting to know them better over the next three weeks. Stay tuned for more updates from the rest of the GROW team.