Sunday, June 5, 2011

Last Days in El Salvador

Now that our time in El Salvador is coming to an end, I wanted to count our blessings a bit before we move on to our next stop.

Things I will miss about El Salvador:
* yummy, cheesy pupusas
* incredibly warm people
* tropical climate
* how time seems to be suspended every time we go to the beach
* the loveliness of Spanish
* how El Salvador is almost untouched by tourists and English
* $15/hour massages and our $13/week maid
* living within walking distance to the school
* freedom from any test-prep pressure
* free round-trip annual tickets to the States
* having incredible teaching resources at the school and various support staff helping me set up labs for my classes
* the kids I taught last year, who still came back to me all the time this year for help and advice...
* The Head of our school is a great boss and someone whom I feel comfortable walking into the office of without appointments.

Things I will not miss:
* unreliable water, power, and sometimes internet
* giant rain-filled pot holes that they just don't bother fixing
* Salvadoran banks, which tend to prolong every process and make everything difficult to accomplish
* feeling unsafe at night or during the day in the boonies
* hearing people complain about stupid things while many other people in this country have literally nothing and NO opportunities!

Top 13 memories during our 2-year stay (I couldn't fit it into a neat list of 10):
* Pacaya - live-lava volcano in Guatemala where we roasted marshmellows on the lava stream
* Machu Picchu and Wainapicchu - sky-high Inca ruins in Peru
* Calafate - still growing glacier mass in Argentina
* Rio Celeste - natural bright blue river in Costa Rica, in the midst of a rain forest
* El Tabacon - labyrinth of luxurious hot springs in Costa Rica, channelled from natural volcanic springs
* Cerra Negra - "volcano boarding" in Nicaragua
* amazing snorkeling in Belize
* Tikal - Mayan ruins in the jungle of northern Guatemala
* Santa Ana, Izalco, Coatepeque - Salvadoran volcanos: one with a smoking green crater lake, one with bare rocky top, and one with a beautiful volcanic lake.
* Atitlan - giant and beautiful volcanic lake in Guatemala, complete with cliff-jumping!
* staying with a local family on an island in Panama (in a village with only huts and no sewage system) and then island hopping between untouched paradise islands
* a bunch of teachers going to the lake house of one of my students and doing lake sports and BBQing with their truly awesome family
* Almost getting robbed by a masked bandit in Guatemala at machete-point and driving off while screaming. (This is not a good memory, obviously, but it taught us a helluva lot about being safe. So, it's a very memorable experience.)

As the year wraps up (Geoff leaves in 7 days and I leave El Salvador 4 days after him), I am endlessly thankful for the experiences that we have had. Geoff and I always say this, but it's true -- we are some of the luckiest people, because we have jobs that we love, we are saving money and traveling at the same time, and we have each other to share this amazing experience with.

Summer (and Germany), here we come! :)

PS. I think the more Spanish I have learned, the worse an effect it has had on my ability to spell in English. Take "glacier" for example, it didn't immediately occur to me that I was spelling it "glaciar" like it is in Spanish, since when I visually checked the word, it looked very familar to me. And for the same reason, my natural inclination was to type "masage" (similar to masaje) instead of "massage"... Dangerous!

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