History of El Salvador

Bandera

This past January 16th, El Salvador celebrated 25 years since Peace Accords were signed to end a brutal civil war. That same week a piece of art went on display in MARTE, El Salvador’s art museum, to celebrate the anniversary. The piece of art quite literally laid out the still fought for peace that so many long for. That artist’s name is Carmen Elena Trigueros and her piece is called simply Bandera, meaning “flag.” I recently chaperoned a field trip with my daughter’s class and Bandera was one of the pieces featured by the guide. When I saw Bandera I stood there small, struck by the beauty of the piece and the enormity of the task spilling out across the floor. The flag was white and long and stretched up […]

Celebrating Freedom – Celebrando La Libertad

Today is Independence Day in El Salvador…September 15 is the day that Salvadorans celebrate freedom from Spanish rule. Watching the marches in the streets and seeing the Salvadoran flag flying around the city have gotten me thinking a lot about freedom and what that means in the lives of our friends. It’s important to celebrate the stories of freedom as fiercely as we grieve the stories of pain and loss. There is freedom to be found around us everyday…freedom from addiction, from the grinding pain of poverty, from the trauma of abuse and exploitation. Today we celebrate our friend Douglas who works every day serving others in our center…he is approaching 2 years of sobriety. His freedom brings joy to so many. We celebrate Jeremy who has struggled out of the […]

An Afternoon in Ataco

Well, this is not a travel blog, but I still like to share bits and pieces of what El Salvador is like. There is a colonial legacy here that adds to the color and history of the country. Learning about culture and history are important elements to take into account when living and serving outside of our own contexts. There is value in seeking to understand the story that someone else has behind their life. A month or so ago the kids and I spent the afternoon with some friends in the colonial town of Ataco. We really enjoyed just walking the cobblestone streets, and exploring some local shops. I always enjoy when I get to be out of the city and be a tourist in El Salvador. The day was […]

The Weight of All Things

Last week while we were on vacation I was finally able to finish a book that I started months ago. I think I’ve set a record for longest time to finish a not-so-long book, but I’m so glad that I did. The book is called The Weight of All Things, and it is Sandra Benitez’s follow up to her epic novel, Bitter Grounds. And just like her first novel, it pulls you right in to the world of El Salvador…this time during the Salvadoran Civil War. The book is a novel, but it includes very real depictions of things that happened during the conflict. I saw the war through the eyes of a scared young boy as he was forced to aid guerrillas on his family’s ranch, and then later as he was forced to […]

Independence Day Weekend

I hate when the blog starts to fall behind, but it’s inevitable with crazy weeks like this past week’s party madness. So, I am finally getting around to an update about Independence Day weekend. Independence Day in El Salvador is on September 15th. On that day in 1821 El Salvador declared independence from Spain. Today it is celebrated through special events in schools, towns, and all kinds of public places. This year we had the added bonus of a three day weekend because the holiday fell on a Monday. Some Salvadoran friends invited us to their “rancho” on the beach in the eastern party of the country where we have never been before. El Salvador never falls to surprise and delight me and this weekend was no exception. The beaches are […]

Names on a Wall – Our Visit to a Civil War Memorial

The summer has flown by so fast! Today our last intern is finishing her last day of work. Every year we hope that our interns can learn a little something about El Salvador while they are here, so we try to start the summer off with a short history lesson. Back in June on a rainy morning we took our kids and our interns to visit the memorial wall in Parque Cuscatlan before heading to the National Cathedral downtown. Our friend Cruz shared some history about the war with our interns. The wall was built to honor the more than 75,000 Salvadorans who were killed during the Salvadoran Civil War in the 80s and early 90s. The memorial is called “Monumento a la Memoria y la Verdad” which means the […]

Immigration…It’s Complicated

This morning as I was driving in my car listening to talk radio, I heard about the latest public awareness campaign. This one is called “Dream Versus Nightmare” and is targeted at educating would-be immigrants about the potential perils involved in taking the journey North. I also opened the paper earlier this week to read the latest news from last week’s meeting between Obama and Central American leaders. As I flipped through the paper other stories were reported…the skyrocketing number of Salvadoran students killed so far this year, another double homicide, more Salvadorans abandoning their neighborhoods in the dark of night because gangs caused them to fear for their lives. There are complicated messages out there…it is absolutely true that immigration can take a dream and turn it into a […]

Hiking the Santa Ana Volcano

This past weekend, we did some new, fun stuff in El Salvador. We went to see the national soccer team play (a first for the kids and I), and I will post more on that later. We also finally (finally!) took the time to hike the Santa Ana Volcano. In the native language, it is known as Illamatepec. Jon has done it before but the kids and I haven’t and I’ve been wanting to do it for a long time. I wish I had taken more pictures on the climb up, because it was an absolutely spectacular day. However I got a few and you can see the flowers in full bloom. The flowers and trees slowly gave way to a desolate landscape. Santa Ana last erupted in 2005 so […]

Indigo

A few weeks ago Tori and I had a truly beautiful experience on her class field trip. We went to a hacienda that allows visitors the opportunity to learn about the indigo-dye process. Back in colonial days, El Salvador was a major exporter of indigo dye for the world. This gave the land enough economic security to declare independence. Since then, times have changed and synthetics have taken over.  We got to see how things used to be, and it is an experience I would recommend to anyone who visits El Salvador. The beautiful Hacienda San Juan Buenavista 500 year old ceiba tree Indigo dye comes from this plant It starts green and is pounded out from the plant. Tori is making an impression on a piece of fabric with […]

Election Week?

In general, I don’t blog about politics, but this week has been quite interesting here in El Salvador. Sunday’s run-off election between the FMLN and ARENA political parties has stretched into a week-long process of protests, ballot recounts, and allegations of fraud. The week started with both sides declaring victory as tensions mounted. ARENA supporters took to the streets to demand a vote-by-vote accounting of Sunday’s run-off election. Early Thursday morning, the official count was concluded and FMLN candidate Salvador Sánchez Cerén was declared the winner with just over 6,000 votes separating the candidates. The ARENA party has responded with claims of evidence of fraud in the election, so it is a waiting game to see how and if those claims will affect the official results. In the meantime, the […]