As an avid traveler, I often like to pride myself in knowing a lot about various countries, its major cities, cultural highlights, and its cuisine. Some, from casual reading. Other times, from people whom I met from those certain countries.
However, I am a bit embarrassed to admit that I knew virtually nothing about El Salvador.
Oh, and did I mention one of my closest friends is Salvadorean? Shame shame!
Many times prior to joining HCI on a medical mission, I always thought of El Salvador as a dangerous country filled with political unrest, its association with the violently dangerous gang MS13, and most recently, a well-renowned surfing nation whom I found out from a Californian nurse several months ago.
However, visiting the country seemed to have proven my assumptions wrong. Although I’m pretty sure civil unrest and instability is still prevalent in many parts of the country, what I saw and experienced was sheer beauty of its natural surroundings, gracious hospitality from the local hosts, and warmth and kindness from local strangers.
Hold on, did I mention amazing coffee full of flavor?
Though I worked night shift during the volunteer mission and didn’t really get to go out much, we did, however end up in Lake Coatepeque in Santa Ana at the end of the week. Our local gracious hosts, Sana Mi Corazon, took time out of their busy schedules to show us this absolute beauty I only knew about once I stepped foot in El Salvador soil.
What’s even better? The waters of the lake literally turned a magnificent turquoise color days prior to our visit. The waters are usually clear and clean but rarely this gorgeous color. However, every few years or so, the algae from the bottom of the lake releases an absurd amount of toxins which causes this stunning color effect.
It was simply the best way to end a full week of volunteering.