It is wednesday morning and I have been here in spokane since about 10pm on friday night. Since then, I have been in a whirlwind of seeing people, debriefing, and now making the presentation (SATURDAY 2:30 IN THE WHITWORTH AUDITORIUM). I want to say thank you to all of you who have welcomed me back and to all of you who have expressed reading these messages, so lucky for you, here is the last one.
After leaving San Salvador, the team split up into 2 groups. Half of us went to a town called La Mora and the other (my group) went to another called Las Vueltas (which is close to the honduran border). So we took a nice little chicken bus up to the town of Caltenango where we met the leaders of the youth ogranization that was putting together our homestay. We then piled into the back of a truck and headed 20 minutes up the hill to Las Vueltas. When we arrived, we walked into the parque central where there there were many pro-FMLN (the leftist party) paintings and murals, two sculptures representing those who had died fighting in the civil war in the area, and then an un-exploded bomb. So, in the first minute of being there we felt that we had a general understanding that this town was very involved in the conflicts during the 80s. We split off into homestays. I went with Travis to the home of one of the leaders of the youth organization's house. Her name was Areli. This began the rediculusness of this homestay. Travis and Areli were always making fun of each other and it made being there very fun. That night we played soccer (like normal) and then headed to bed. The following morning we woke up early do go do some community building work (like Community Building Day, but in spanish). So the ladies went to pick up garbage in the park and in the river and the men headed up the mountain with machetes and such to go do some "heavy labor." After hiking up the hill, we came upon a clearing with a bunch of rocks with hyroglyphics on it. our guides looked around and said "oh, well.... all of the clearing looks like it has been done......lets go pick some mangos." so that is what we did. We also found a rusty clip from an M16. This really brought the war to reality and put it in my hands. One of our guides said that there was a town near there where the government had come in at 3 in the morning and massacred 600 people by noon. I am still reeling from those numbers and the reality of those stories. finally, the girls got up there and were quite angry of how easy our day was. then we headed back and watched the ladies of the town (and cheri and Fletchface) play softball.
The next morning, we began a hike up the mountains. We were told that this was a 20 km hike, but personally, i don't believe it. It did take us within one hill of being back in honduras. at the top, there were caves that had been carved out of the hillside where the guerrellas had hiden, had a hospital, and held their radio as to hide from the government forces. I really was struck in the hospital cave because there were so many people who did not make it out of those caves and had put down their lives fighting for the lives of others. this was not an idealisit war for them. it was a war for survival. I really advocate for peace, but my host mom was forced to take up arms to ensure the safety of her children.
On Sunday morning, we watched people squeeze sugar cane, then went to mass. it was a good mass, but the interesting part was at the end when the priest lambasted the congregation for not turning out for the local protests against foreign owned mines. He also talked about how there was going to be a procession on May 14 to remember the massacre. In the evening, the town made us dinner. It was cool to see the way that they were excited about us coming and the future that they had.
Then monday, we hit the road. it was sad to see the town left behind because this was one of our favorite homestays because the people were sooooooo excited to have us there and we really benefitted from their lives. We then, after picking up the other group and going to Pollo Campero, went to a retreat center in the town of Tacuba which was close to the border with Guatemala. There we did debriefing for a few days. One of the days, we went canyoning in the national park "el impossible." This is when you hike through a river and whenever you get to a point when you can't hike, you cliff jump. it was AWESOME. that night we went to hot springs too. one of the most fun days of the trip.
our last night there, we had a coffee house where people did little things to commemorate the trip and to remember the amazing experiences we had done. I just gave flowers to everyone, but some sang songs, or preformed poems, or said what we are going to be doing in 25 years (apparently I will be winning the portland marathon without leg cramps). Then at 2am, we hit the road, the plane, and were back in the states.
so this is basically it. Thank you so much for reading these messages, replying, sending mail, and praying for me. You all are amazing and I would love to hang out. Please, let me know if you want to spend time. I have literally NOTHING to do next week. so send me a message. but more importantly COME TO THE PRESENTATION. well, actually, it is more an introduction to what we did. we will try to scratch the surface of what we did and how it affected us, but if you love me or any of the other 24 students, you should be there (I do understand if you can't though). but a reminder, it is SATURDAY, MAY 10, 2:30PM, COWELS AUDITORIUM.
thank you all.
muchas gracias con mucho amor.