Last Monday I headed to El Salvador for a few days. It was lovely except for a few hitches.
1) On the way to the airport, I tidied up my knapsack and managed to leave my phone charger in the taxi.
2) I made my connection in Chicago, but my luggage did not. Luckily I had some essential clothing and supplies in my knapsack, as I didn't see my suitcase again until late Wednesday night. My colleague was not so lucky, as he forgot his wallet somewhere in Chicago or on the plane. It still hasn't shown up as far as I know.
3) I had bought a replacement phone charger at the Ottawa airport, but left it behind at my hotel in Usulután on Tuesday.
4) I didn't lose anything on Wednesday or Thursday, but I did forget to pay Clara back after she accidentally covered the cost of our hotel rooms on Wednesday morning. I'll need to mail her a cheque tomorrow!
5) Having managed to get my phone recharged thanks to one of my friends at the Embassy, I misplaced the phone on Friday morning. I had it in my hotel room just before leaving. I opened my knapsack in the car to take a picture of bunnies on the side of the road when we stopped to investigate a leaking tire; the phone may have fallen out then. Tomorrow I'll be putting in some calls to see if the phone showed up in the car; if not, I'll be getting my friend at the Embassy to see whether it was turned in at the hotel. Hopefully she will be able to mail it back soon.
6) The flight from El Salvador was delayed by an hour when two people decided not to travel at the last minute and their bags had to be retrieved. As a result, I missed my connection in Toronto and lost another hour in travel time. We won't even discuss how much sleep I lost during the week, staying out too late and getting up too early every day.
In non-lost news, El Salvador has made huge progress since I was last there. There is an impressive road network, the quality of houses and cars has improved significantly. I didn't see a single person selling fruit or other goodies on the street. Tourism is way up, according to the locals. There is still poverty, but nothing like when I lived there, except in very remote regions like the ones I went to visit.
Skraeling Althing bunnies are everywhere! These fearless fellows were on the side of a four-lane highway.
Francisco, Sara, me, Esly, Karla and Romeo - all former colleagues at the Embassy.
Proud graduates of the baking, construction and literacy courses in Ilobasco, partly funded by Canada
A few of the grads in the literacy program. These ladies studied reading, writing and practical human rights skills for a year. The lady in front just turned 75. The one directly behind her broke into a dance upon receiving her diploma.
Processing coffee beans in rural Usulutan. This project was born following land reform that gave landless peasants small plots of land, many of them with ageing coffee trees. Now, thousands of farmers in 13 communities have improved varieties of younger trees (with more on the way), and a guaranteed market for their beans. The same project has fair trade shops in all the villages so that farmers have access to essential goods and a place to sell their produce. The shops are run by community youth, who now are willing to stay rather than taking their chances with illegal migration or a move to the big city.
Traffic jam in San Francisco, Usulutan
View from my hotel room, Usulutan