Posted by: missopinion | November 22, 2008

How I fell In Love

I was born in El Salvador from Salvadorian parents; however, I was lucky enough to have migrated to Australia at a very young age. Shielded from the travesty, tragedy and nightmare of the civil war and the realities of the struggle that beautiful country endured and continues to endure, I remained disengaged with El Salvador for most of my life up until now. This initial introduction is to provide you with a background on how my love for this country and its people was born and why I am passionate about its economic, political and social state.

Up until the age of 24, I had very little curiosity about my culture, the country I was born in and its people. I had thoughts like many children of expats do; “Why should I care? I don’t live there” “it doesn’t concern me; It’s not my problem”, “I’m not Salvadorian”.

 

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Then in 2006, I travelled back for the first time in over 20 years. I must say that my first experience there was memorable. It was beautiful, exciting, eye-opening and motivating. I remember getting on the plane at the airport in Australia feeling so excited to travel back there for the first time in my life and that I would actually remember it. After an arduous long-haul flight, we were 1 hour away from landing. I was sitting beside a cousin of mine who flew with me from Canada; we had made friends with the chatty people beside us. We were laughing and exchanging stories, they were providing us with lots of advice of where to go, what to see and ensuring we try certain foods that I had never tried before in my life. I was excited with a million little butterflies in my stomach all restlessly floating inside me and anxious to get off that plane and start my discovery holiday. I heard the man behind us exclaim “we are here!! Look at the Volcanoes’!”. I turned my head to look out of the window, it was amazing sight, and quickly took out my camera and became Miss Snap-Happy. I took photos of Lake Coatepeque, Volcano of San Salvador, and later on the San Vicente Volcano.

The pilot’s voice came over the speakers; “ladies and gentlemen we are landing in Comalapa airport, please ensure to follow the flight crew’s directions and welcome to El Salvador”… I took a deep breath and turned my head as if in slow motion to the window…I saw the beautiful green earth beneath us, checkered into all shades of green and brown that painted the country side with the colours of the ‘milpas‘ or plantations. The plane descended faster, I could feel my body tensing, I could feel the blood rushing from my head as if a white water river, a little lump began to quickly grow inside my throat, I took another deep breath and in the solace of my own personal moment, as the plane landed and simultaneously as the wheels of the plane touched El Salvador, the thoughts echoing in my head began resonating ”oh my god… this is my land… this is where I was born, this is where I belong…my history, my family, my very being…” and the tears began to roll down my cheeks onto my neck and ending their silent journey on my chest. As everyone was too excited, looking out at either side of the airplane no one noticed the overwhelming emotion that overcame me at that moment. The plane had landed, I quickly wiped my tears and composed myself to save face and save myself from having to explain to everyone around me what had overcome me. I smiled and regained my composure.

The comedy that belongs to my wonderful birth country, El Salvador, began.

Usually whenever I have flown into the US, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, anywhere in Australia people tend to follow rules with more rigor and understanding. The light that indicates your seatbelt is supposed to advise you of when to buckle up, when to remain seated with your seatbelt on and when you are safe to undo your seatbelt. I truly believe that the airlines do this for our safety. I also make it a policy of mine to believe that the seatbelt can prevent or at least reduce the risk of serious injury on my person should a non-life threatening incident occur during flight. By these I mean things such as the plane dropping due to sudden cabin pressure loss or encountering an air pocket. I quickly learned that my people choose to see all of this as a ‘suggestion’, a suggestion like the one you would find on the back of a snack box that says “suggestions for serving” and they give you a nice inventive idea on how to serve the snack you have purchased. The plane was still travelling on the tarmac, had not even taxied into place, the flight crew manager explicitly advised, if not sounding more commanding; “please remain seated with your seatbelt on until the plane has come to a full stop and the seatbelt sign has been turned off”. I was quite pleased with my hearing as I managed to hear the English version which was repeated after she said it in Spanish, despite the fact that during the announcement all passengers except myself were already on their feet standing up, climbing over each other, talking, laughing loudly, reaching for their carry-on luggage up on the carry-on compartments, children were asking at the top of their voices incessantly “mummy I’m hungry! Can we get Pollo Campero!?? Please!??” or “I’m hot and thirsty I want a drink can we get off now!?” I suppose if you think about it, the plane is moving, but it hasn’t parked yet so technically the likelihood of it dropping out of the air or crashing into the ocean is minimal, so I can see why my people just see it as a suggestion to keep your seatbelt on. In fact, I think some people looked at me because I was the oddball out of the bunch. I’m sure and would put money on it that the thoughts of those that observed my behaviour were “that chick is such a gringa, eh dumbass go ahead get stuck at the end of the queue, that’s right sit there, she doesn’t know anything, get with the program girl!” And laughed or at least had a chuckle at my expense.

El Salvador has amazing beauty – once you get past its faults. I want to see this country flourish. I want to see its people succeed, I want the children to have some kind of future filled not only with hope but with opportunity. I want the elderly to have a place to rest and enjoy the life they have left. I want the youth to make it happen, I want the politicians to stand up, be strong not be selfish, self – interested and corrupt and DO what you promise you will do. I want all Salvadorians to be proud of their country; I want them to take pride and keep the streets clean, keep the streets clean from Maras/gangs, criminal activities, the parks well looked after, have a clean air and be environmentally conscious. Be productive economically and have a heart when it comes to the working class (which is practically everyone who isn’t in government or an industrialist). I know my little humble blog may not provide all the answers but it’s a voice I’m raising in the hope and belief that things can change.

©missopinion.wordpress.com 22.11.2008

 

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