Despite El Salvador's tiny size, my routine is dominated by a few distinct locales: my house in the hipster/student haunt of the San Luis, the office up the volcano in Escalón, a capoeira gathering at the National University, and visits to our partner communities in the campo. So when a friend invited me to a mysterious family reunion in a land far far away, I jumped at the chance. I did not entirely understand the logistics, but oh well! Que sea sea (what will be, will be).
Turns out we were going to San Isidro Lempa in Santa Ana, a department one hop over from San Salvador. My friend's cousin had just gotten married, which meant all the aunts from the US were in town, plus their children, distant cousins, the brothers of wives' husbands' second dog's owner's best friend from High School... a blur of genetics and hospitality.
|Just through the corn plants, you can see the massive Rio Lempa snaking through.|
|This was the only photo I could manage of the kids playing a very mobile game of Tug-of-War. Must reset my camera flash settings to go faster...|
It struck me that amid all the stories of violence, of homicides and gangs and corruption and disrepute coming out of El Salvador, here was this Eden all the same, huddled in the jungle of Santa Ana. It was calm, serene... kids ran from one water pump to the next, nearly plunging headfirst into the metal play structure, rearranging their shirt with a sheepish grin (you know, that Holy crap! I almost died! But I didn't... Yeeeesssss! look that only 8-year old boys get after a near death experience). There was nothing to accomplish, nowhere to be. Just to observe and, more than anything, allow myself to become a part of the community that was inviting me in with open arms.