El Salvador is a hidden treasure in Central America with a size roughly that of the state of Rhode Island. The huge consumption of Coke Cola, movie premiers, and musical debuts show that El Salvador is increasingly Americanized. The only thing that compares to Coke Cola in popularity is Jesus, with the El Salvadorians being a very pious people. I was fortunate enough to spend a month with very good friends of the family; we prayed at every single meal. It was a very enlightening trip, I must say. I am not a very religious person, but just experiencing a whole country believing a faith quite fervently was uplifting in a way.
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The people of El Salvador are among the nicest and most hospitable I’ve ever met. The culture is rich with good music and food. One of the main dishes is pupusas, a corn tortilla filled with cheese, beans or meat. You need a strong stomach for some dishes but the flavor is incredible. The main agricultural export of El Salvador is coffee. It is grown on the high mountain peaks; with the high altitude, oxygen percentages, and other scientific terms that I don’t know, El Salvador produces some of the most robust and flavorful coffee I’ve ever tasted. Of course the main language is Spanish; my host family enjoyed poking fun at how poorly I spoke it, considering my entire family is fluent, including my parents. Yet they were so unbelievably patient with me and so willing to teach; I believe that this trip opened a few doors in my brain, and the language came pouring in. My dad was elated to hear me speaking Spanish when I returned from my month-long trip.
I visited El Salvador in the month of August– the wet season. My dad’s best friend, J.J., was the person I was staying with and he completely welcomed me into his home. With J.J. and his family, we visited the family beach house for my last weekend in the country. Unfortunately, it was a cloudy weekend that turned into storms. But if I told you my weekend was ruined, I’d be lying. I truly have never seen such beautiful cloud formations; the lightening was almost constant, resulting in even more awesome views. I must have sat for hours that Saturday night, just sitting, watching, looking out on the ocean, admiring the fantastic lighting. Some of J.J.’s kids looked at me with looks of curiosity as they resumed their game of dominoes; but coming from New York, where tall buildings ruin your view of a good lightening storm, I couldn’t help myself. So there I sat, with eyes glued to the sky. And it was at that point in my trip where I thought ‘this is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.’ And without fail, the sun rose the next day on clouds that would leave you breathless. It was a bittersweet Sunday when we had to leave, but I wasn’t complaining; the car ride back to the city meant an hour or two of cloud-gazing. On the flight to JFK airport, I had time to reflect upon my vacation; I had learned a great deal of Spanish, ate lots of good food, visited towns, took lots of photos, and somewhere in between, learned a lot about life. It is one of those eye-opening trips that show what the world has to offer. The plane landed and I missed El Salvador. I don’t know when I’ll see her again, but I’ll always remember the country with clouds in her eyes and lightening in her hair.
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