I arrived in El Salvador on Friday and was met at the airport by Mike, one of the faces of Epilogos – an NGO working here in San Jose Villanueva and Rotary’s key partner in the community. Epilogos hosts volunteers from a variety of other organizations who come to work on a diversity of development projects. At the moment, there is a group here from Engineers Without Borders at Tufts University in Boston, MA. This group has been working on building a water storage tank above a spring in one of the most remote parts of the community. And they are my roommates in Epilogos’s volunteer house until they head home on Tuesday.
My first few days in the country have been full of variety. Some highlights:
- A trip to the beach for a typical Salvadoran breakfast (eggs, fried plantain, beans, cheese, cream and bread)
- Tagging along to help finish the construction of the water tank with the EWB group
- A first meeting with my very lovely research assistant, Keily
- Attending a 15th birthday party – a BIG deal in the culture and the equivalent of a big wedding
- Lunch at the beach (shrimp ceviche) and pupusa dinner in the city with some good friends
Tomorrow, Keily and I are going to sit down and look at our plan for the next eight weeks. This will including reviewing interview questions, developing lists of key informants, and planning our routes around the municipality. This last part will involve some real strategizing because the community is rather spread out. For example, the walk back from the water project yesterday (only across a fraction of the municipality) took us about forty five minutes. The temperature has been hovering around 30C and we’re in the dry season right now and so it’s very sunny most of the time. So, Keily and I will be attempting to maximize our use of time and energy while at the same time getting maximum coverage of the community.
As I get ready for bed now, I have a tummy full of favourite Salvadoran foods and am still riding high from the warm and fuzzy feelings of reunion hugs from some wonderful friends. Tomorrow, I roll up the sleeves and get to work.
Life is good.