I've chosen this photo to represent my foremost impression of
the El Salvadorian people. These are a people with a great heart. Their heart
has been broken, but they have enormous hope for the future. The people on the
path to El Boqueron have planted this beautiful garden.
When you look at these photos you may be asking, "Why am I
showing you these?" What I'm trying to show you is just what we saw. El Salvador
is NOT a tourist country. The fact is that the civil war has decimated the
country. I'm trying to put faces and images to words.
there is a face to that hope it is seen in these little children from
Panchimalco.. We were told that the vast majority of children now attend school.
Whereas, most people over 20 years old are illiterate.
92 year old lady was preparing to be part of the festivities. She dances to show
off her native costume. The shawl in her right hand is the traditional
hand-woven pattern for a married lady.
seems to understand the need to nurture young people and provide hope for them
better than Miguel, a well-known artist from Panchimalco. Miguel has made his
studio into a safe and peaceful place for budding young artists in the town.
view of Miguel's studio shows the inspiration he tries to give to young people.
is the oldest church in El Salvador, built in the 1500's To the left is the
cleft in the mountains where young women were sacrificed to appease pagan
deities. This cleft is called the Mouth of the Devil. The church is a symbol of
hope to many people in Panchimalco.
for peace and prosperity are certainly offered on a regular basis.
enthusiasm and desire to succeed is exemplified by these boys trying to climb a
greased pole. We watched these guys striving to climb the slippery pole. This is
a traditional game. I saw the face of determination and cooperation in these
young boys and came away very hopeful for the people of Panchimalco.
saw many scenes along the road of the most minimal living conditions. In fact,
the majority of people in El Salvador are squatters - living just like this
along the road or on some other small unused piece of property.
These types of homes are often built by squatters. You see them everywhere
throughout the countryside.
are better than others with stacks of firewood for cooking stacked along side
the house. Many of these homes have electricity and television which is a major
source of education.
passed many neighborhoods where people are trying little by little to clean up
after more than a decade of civil war. These piles of rubble are much reduced
from even a few years ago.
lot of building is going on throughout the country.
homes are being built.
housing tracts have been built to try to house the many people that have
migrated off the farms. It turns out that the original land owners were thrown
off their land by the rebels who now control the land. The knowledgeable farmers
were also thrown off, resulting now in about 10% of the original production of
farm goods in the country. Most of the fresh produce in El Salvador is now
saw middle class neighborhoods as well. Some were individually built.
are built more like condominiums or town houses. You can also see that many
roads have been built and electricity is much more readily available.
the 13 years since the end of the civil war many major thoroughfares have been
paved. Pickup trucks are a common form of transportation in El Salvador just as
you might see in certain parts of the U. S.
common to share the road with livestock.
businesses seem to be right along the road. This man repairs tires.
a typical roadside diner. I was amazed at how close the tables are to the
street. There just isn't any land available. You see this at El Boqueron where
people are farming on the very steep slopes of the crater. AN YES, people have
died trying to far almost vertical slopes.
eateries are very common.
the larger towns every day is market day.
umbrella is a separate owner.
toured up into the mountains to visit El Boqueron, a big volcano. We stopped at
a very lovely restaurant where middle class El Salvadorians go for dinner out.
This was a little shrine of Thanksgiving for a May 3rd holiday.
are the grounds at the restaurant. Clearly this is a former hacienda. Many of
the reallocated properties have gone to ruin because new owners don't know how
to care for them.
was a little display in the restaurant. These are native artworks. Also on sale
at the restaurant is coffee (which we could NOT pass up!), baskets and pottery.
We actually found a basket that would help hold Scott's many books! The fact is,
though, that in these countries of extreme poverty it is expected that you will
grows all over the hillsides in this location. Coffee and sugarcane are the main
exports in El Salvador. (Besides people) These coffee blooms are like snow on
the tops of the mountain. They require a certain amount of rain to develop into
coffee beans. Then they are harvested one at a time when they are mature. An
entire family will be involved in harvesting as people are paid for the amount
they harvest. The trees above the coffee plants must be trimmed to allow just
the right amount of light. The trimmings provide fuel for people's cooking
stoves. The coffee plants must be fertilized and cared for during the annual
cycle. You can see how steep the mountains are and how difficult it would be to
perform these tasks.
is looking down into the crater of El Boqueron. In the early 1900s this crater
was filled with water and the people would fish in this inland lake. An
earthquake caused the water to drain out of it.
goes on inside the crater. This tells you how scarce good farm land is. Lives
are lost trying to cultivate crops on such a steep wall. Farmland and water are
so scarce that much produce is imported from Guatemala. As a consequence the
cost of living is quite high.
can buy fruit, flowers, and drinks here just across from the parking lot to the
volcano. As you can see people live nearby.