Admittedly John Lennon (quoted in the title) was my least favorite member of The Beatles but this week I believe that this quote has been proven to be true time and again. The plan was to leave Suchitoto (El Salvador) and stay at an organization called CBC (Centro Bartolome de las Casas) where we would stay for one day and then jog on to San Julian, the location of our first placement.
It had rained almost everyday in the afternoon whilst we where at Suchitoto, but the morning we left it was like the monsoon x3 (which makes sense of that fact that El Salvador receives three times more rainfall than the average country worldwide). The rain did not stop for what seemed like five days and because of this we stayed an extra night with CBC, then another extra night with CBC and then another extra night… So, in total, this equated to about four nights there. This was because the roads were too wet and dangerous for us to travel on. We dispatched our Team Leader, Zoe, to check out our destination. When she returned all was well and we were going to head off the next morning.
This was until the large bridge along the Pan American highway crashed into the river that night... After that our next departure date was pushed back when the risk of mudslides along the alternative route proved too big a risk to take and so we are still here in our hotel waiting to leave tomorrow. The unrelenting and intense rainstorms from the Tropical Storm 12E reinforced El Salvador’s vulnerability, with the President elevating the country's status to a state of calamity manifesting in floods, evacuations, mudslides, blocked highways and infrastructural damage.
Whilst we were in CBC we went for a very eye opening walk around Kilometer 0 - a.k.a. the centre of San Salvador - this is where CBC is located and whilst we walked around places that were at best ten minutes away from our beds we saw the darker side of El Salvador; substance abusers twitching nervously on street corners, gang graffiti demarcating their territory. The police don’t seem overly confident that they can fulfil their role of policing by themselves, because soldiers holding M16s are dotted around the streets.
I was told that the centre of San Salvador is a place that a lot of Salvadorians themselves daren’t go, but we are strolling around the place, admittedly with guides, but still alien to this place that we find ourselves in. These places are mere minutes away but our feelings of safety never really wavered, it reminds me that the stereotypes of supposedly dangerous places aren’t always deserved and that any county will have its nice parts and vice versa.
Blog by ICS Empower volunteer Alex Felvus.
Photo: The bridge between Guatemala and El Salvador, at the border town of La Hachadura, Ahuachapán, El Salvador. Photo © Marcos Cerra/Progressio.