Coming Home and Finding Our Roots

Good Afternoon dear reader.  I have had one more blog posting percolating since my last post.  Now that I have had some time to be home again and tomorrow I begin a new course load at UTS, I thought this would be a good time to send out a few more thoughts about this trip.

Since coming home again I have had many people ask me the question, “How was your trip?”  What then do I say? It was fun? It was awesome? It was challenging? It was a great learning experience? It was eye opening? Yes, yes, yes and yes.  All of the above and more.

I do know that the effect this trip has had on me is not finished.  I think for a very long time if not for the rest of my life, there will be teachings from this experience that will continue to come to me—perhaps in moments that I least expect it.

I also know that this will not be my only such experience, because I feel strongly that I will try to make other similarly focused trips in the future, perhaps even back to Chiapas.

This photo is of an artwork created Continue reading

My “ready” is most likely far more decadent than most …

As a group, and in our reading, we have been exploring the concept of “privilege” a great deal. We have been raising our awareness of things, opportunities and experiences that we have that we often take for granted and that are often not benefits that are afforded to others who do not share this privilege. Today, it really hit home.

As I was leaving the Travel Clinic, after getting my recommended immunizations and prescriptions, I started to panic as my mind Continue reading

El Salvador Day 09 – There and Back Again

We have returned stateside, safe and sound. There’s not a lot to tell about this final day of the journey, but here’s a little peak into how we traveled home and how I felt being back in the US after nine amazing days in El Salvador.

“Rise and Shine and Give God the Glory, Glory”

We awoke in the 3:00am hour, most of us having taken time to pack and shower the night before. With so many new gifts, repacking became a little adventure unto itself. Many of us brought extra bags or split up luggage with others who had extra room. Tim got clever and put his gifts in his suitcase and his clothes in a garbage bag (he had sneaking suspicions the flight attendant who give him a flippant look when he brought it on the plane may have put a hole in it on purpose but we’ll never know…). I ended up leaving two small bags of laundry with Cristina as a donation to make room for the gifts I purchased and am hopeful my clothes will come in handy for someone.

There was a little drama, too, in that the second van didn’t arrive to take our luggage. Our guest house hostess, Betty, volunteered to drive her pick-up truck for us, though. Somehow, we heaved all of our luggage aboard and headed out to the airport. Sara and I had a fulfilling conversation about married life and what it’s going to be like back home on our drive and we have solidified a powerful friendship we wouldn’t have had if it wasn’t for this trip. For all of the powerful experiences the group has had, it is the lasting friendships which will hold those memories dear and our hearts accountable upon our return to privileged life in the US.

The redundancy of security checkpoints in San Salvador was frustrating, in that we had to show our passports to check in, then to enter security, then to enter the waiting lounge. Oh, and if you wanted to leave the lounge to see the mural down the hall depicting Romero with children – the mural President Funes stood in front of at the unveiling, asking for forgiveness on behalf of the Salvadorian government for the killing of Romero – then you had to stand in line and once again show your passport. It didn’t help that it was early and (I can’t speak for anyone else) I was grumpy, I suppose. Thankfully, the mural itself took away much of my stress and it’s photo-realism style really captivated me. Continue reading

El Salvador Day 06 – The Grave of Father Grande and the Emotional Arena

So much to write, yet I have to be kind to myself and actually get some sleep. An unfortunate side effect of electing to be the trip blogger is that my nights are often early. I hope you’ll afford me this gift and perhaps upon our return, my traveling companions can fill in more details in the comments section, something which they’ll hopefully do throughout the blog in the days after our trip.

Also, if you haven’t seen the contest I’m running, look for the post called “Contest: Globalization at What Price?” for more information on how you can win a free book just by leaving us a comment.

And with that, on to today…

Traveler’s Truth II

Oh, I feel better. Now hear this, students considering coming on one of these trips: bring Cipro. When TDI strikes, it’s the best remedy, aside from eating a ton of bread and bananas. And if you’re not stricken with TDI, well as the French say, “C’est la vie.” Or as the El Salvadorians say, “Something in Spanish.”

On the Road (From La Palma)

Sorry, dear reader, but as much as I said I hoped I’d be awake and able to tell you all about the beautiful scenery, I indeed slept for much of the way. What time wasn’t spent sleeping was speaking with Professor Chris on the bus. She and I had a wonderful dialog about my future plans, the Church, camping ministry, and choosing kindness over cynicism. Close friends know what likely spurred that part of the conversation and perhaps I’ll have time this week to expound on it. It’s not a secret, I’m just too tired and it’s a tale that I feel is worth spending time crafting. I’ll just say that, for the past two months, Continue reading

El Salvador Day 05 – The Truth of Travel, Meet the Police, and La Palma’s Art Scene

We’ve just past the halfway point of our journey, dear reader. Today we traveled to La Palma and are staying in an immaculate lodge for the evening. Here’s the story…

Traveler’s Truth

Okay, this blog is an honest retelling of our travels, and that means the good and the not-so good. In this spirit, I must say that after four days of relative health I have been stricken with what I’ll codename “traveler’s digestion issues.” It’s a bummer and it was the first health issue listed on our pre-trip literature from the Center for Global Education in terms of what we may face. To put things in perspective, although I’d prefer not to have TDI, it’s better than one of the other possible ailments listed: malaria.

So I took some cipro and have been on a bread and banana diet all day. It was hard at dinner tonight because everyone’s dish – either chicken alfredo or sea bass and rice – looked so delicious. But I’m hoping things will be cleared up soon. I learned I’m not the only one to be stricken with TDI but we’re all in this together, helping each other make sure we’re drinking water and eating the right foods. And I must say, so long as one is proactive about dealing with the ailment, it can be relatively contained. It has left me tired and dehydrated but everyone’s been great about getting me water and checking in with me to make sure I’m not pushing myself beyond my limits. So to this end, it’s yet another community-building exercise for me and the nameless others afflicted.

The Brief History of the Dead

We first went to Monumento A la Memoria Y La Verdad, a memorial which invokes the Vietnam Memorial wall in the US but instead of listings soldiers it lists innocents. A foundation which works to find lost children was part of the collective who put together this forty-seven panel wall filled with names of those who were murdered or who were disappeared from the late 1970s through the end of the civil war in 1992. Families could pay around $3 to have their loved ones’ names put on the wall and beyond the names are a few panels of three-dimensional sculpture of the people, their suffering, and rise above the war.

The group was appropriately stoic in the presence of thousands of names, some of which were denoted by flowers taped up to the wall, roses laid on the ground, and a few names which were colored in red marker. The six Jesuit priests were on the wall, as was Romero. He’s not listed as monsignor or bishop or archbishop but just his full name, like all of the rest of the people. It’s solidarity in stone. The only difference is his name has visibly been worn down just a tad from people reaching out to Continue reading