The mission in El Salvador (April 25 – May 2)

May 4, 2007  
Topics: El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua

Starting in Costa Rica on April 25 towards El Salvador, we spent the first night about 8 km North of Liberia town (Costa Rica). We found a great spot behind the entrance wall of a private farm, where we – after putting our tent – in the late evening were welcomed by a man with his two little kids.

The next day started great. Just having passed the Costa Rican customs, we headed towards the Nicaraguan immigration bureau. We had already noticed a foreign couple, waiting with us in a line before. Now we saw them going to their own van. Our alarm clocks were ringing. Augustas headed immediately towards them, asking where they are heading and if they could give us a lift. They invited us, explaining that they are on the way right through to Mexico. Bingo!

Sylvie and Dominic, our Canadian drivers from Nicaragua to El Salvador

Sylvie and Dominic, our Canadian drivers from Nicaragua to El Salvador

From there on we spend two full days with Sylvie and Dominic from Quebec, Canada. They had built a new inner outfit for their van, having now a lot of little, closed shelves and two beds in the back instead of two more seats. Sylvie and Dominic were already 3 months on the road, having done the little piece from Quebec down to Panama. Now they were on the way back to Canada, planning to come back home in the end of July 2007.

We were sitting on the beds in the back, while driving straight through Nicaragua, up to Leon, an old town in the North-West of Nicaragua. The day we arrived an international student dance festival was celebrated, dance groups from whole Central America presented folk and modern dances. It was a pleasure to watch the stage and to feel the great energy of the crowd.

We left Leon behind late in the evening, spending the night in an over-dimensional gas station. A whole parking lot was packed with 20-25 trucks which were going to spend a night here. Some drivers were sleeping in a hammocks hanging below their trucks. A whole bunch of homeless and street kids were around too, which made it at the beginning a bit uncosy. At the end we found a calm and dark spot where we pitched a tent beside Sylvie and Dominic’s van.

traffic jams

traffic jams

The next morning we passed a very sad part of Nicaragua. Between Chinandega and the Nicaraguan-Honduran border, we drove along a bad piece of road. Most of the time asphalt was missing, a lot of big wholes were put all along the road, which sometimes were fixed by sand. The area around was very dry, as if water has never made it up here. A sand dust layer was hanging over the landscape and the sun was burning remorseless. About two hours we drove along that road. The speed was sometimes so low that you could walk beside the car. A lot of hungry looking kids, covered all over with dust, used the chance to run up and beg us for money. From time to time young or very old men were standing beside the road, having in one hand a shovel, and pointing with the other one onto the fixed whole, which they had just filled with sand. Once Dominic stopped and gave to one old man a banknote. Other times we just drove by.

The immigration process on the Hondurian border was easy. While waiting for Sylvie and Dominic to get their car papers done, a couple of children walked up, begging us for money. We gave them bread instead, what they took gratefully. One little boy was not satisfied with the bread, thus was asking to hand him my backpack carriage. After a whole long discussion he gave only up when I ask him, “Would you give me your t-shirt, although you really need it?”. That brought him to silence, and soon he went off.

Driving through Honduras was smooth and fast. We saw a lot of nature, and enjoyed the good quality of the roads. Once Dominic mentioned he would love to eat at Pizza Hut right now, unexpecting that a couple of minutes later a real Pizza Hut would appear. Since his deepest wish came true, we of course had to stop for a lunch.

On the El Salvadorian border Sylvie and Dominic got some trouble with their car papers. Somehow the car’s production date and the date written in the car papers did not match. Thus two hours passed by until we were able to go on towards San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador.

waiting for a small capsule to turn into a fancy sponge

waiting for a small capsule to turn into a fancy sponge

As it was late already, we stopped in a big gas station right after the first town we passed. The family owning the gas station, was living right beside it, inviting us with pleasure to spend the night over there. Julisa and Jefferson, the children of the family, were awesome. Soccer and frisbee they loved most, and all of us four became part of the games. With the adults we got a chance to talk about our travels and lives, and were served tortilla, cheese, sour cream and bean soup (without beans). The next morning we got a delicious breakfast papaya, before the family was leaving to the church. The family made a special prayer for all of us, handing to each couple 10 Dollars before they finally left. We were astonished and grateful at the same time.

Finally, we arrived in Santa Tecla, a town nearby San Salvador. We stayed with Amado, a member. We enjoyed our stay in Santa Tecla a lot. The first day Amado was showing us around town, introducing us to a few churches being destroyed during the earthquake in 2001. We passed the colorful and busy market, and got to know that the streets are full of homeless because in Santa Tecla they are welcomed and helped, not as in San Salvador. There is an increasing number of homeless coming to Santa Tecla, and now even the first house for homeless, initiated by the only rebuilt Catholic church in Santa Tecla, is build for them. The second day was breathtakingly amazing. We went to the antropology museum, the modern art museum, enjoyed a part of the “Day of the Dance” of a balett school, ate the most aweful Chow Mein ever in a huge San Salvadorian shopping center, went to the colorful Santa Tecla market again, and finally ended up in a circus, which presented the greatest show we had ever seen in our lives.








The Mission

The third day in El Salvador. It was a time to fullfill our mission. One year ago we became friends with a very poor family in Copper Bank village, in Belize. The father of the family, Fernando, is El Salvadorian, having left his country 17 years ago. Somehow he had lost contact to his family, and as we intended to visit El Salvador, we offered to go and search his family. He gave us the name of his brother, Julio Cesar, and the region and village he was living in. We finally made it to El Salvador via Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras, mainly for finding his brother. We went to Sonsonate, a town West of San Salvador. From there we had a bit of a hazzle to find the right way towards Coquiama, a village in the municipality of Cuisnahuat. It was all a bit tricky, as there was also a village called Coquiamita, thus everyone pointed us there when asking for Coquiama. After one hour of search, we found a bus to Cuisnahuat. We were told they would leave us on the right street towards Coquiama, which meant a 1 hour walk. The region we went through towards our desired destination, was a stony, dusty road. The bus rather crept forward than it drove. The region seemed as dry as the one we had seen in the North-West of Nicaragua, just a couple hills made the scenery more interesting. We were called to get out, which was indeed on a crossroad. We asked for confirmation that this is the road to Coquiama, and got a clear YES. The bus was just gone and we found out that we were at the wrong track. The road in front of us lead to Coquiamita, not Coquiama. Well, there was a chance to arrive to Coquiama taking that road, but it would take at least three hours of walking. Cars do not go that way. This is what locals told us. It was noon. With the hottest sun ever burning down on our heads. We struggeled what to do. We got some more water from a local family, which suggested us to wait for cars, which would head our direction. We took their advice seriously, and had a luck. About 20 minutes later the ice-cream seller stopped, and took us right away towards Cuisnahuat. We knew that the road we need was short before this town, thus got out when this one appeared. In the house right at the corner of that street a woman told us we finally were on the way to Coquiama. Even more relief we found when hearing that she knew Julio Cesar Escobar, the man we are looking for! Happy like children we went towards the village.

Juan Duran

Juan Duran

On the way to Coquiama we met Juan Duran, an old happy man, who was just measuring his corn fields. We had a little chat, where Juan got to know our mission and asked us to write down our names and countries, having to tell this great comming together of cultures of mother earth to his family. We continued our path, even more delighted through this meeting with Juan Duran. Shortly after we noticed Juan following us. We waited him and he offered to lead us personally to the village, as this is what he can do from his side, helping the piligrims to find what they are searching for. A team of three, we continued with joy, all curious of what is waiting ahead of us.

We arrived in Coquiama, and it was easy to figure out where Julio Cesar Escobar is living. We climbed the steep path up to his house, and found him building together with two friends a new house. His wife and young son joined the scenery. When starting to talk, Julio Cesar seemed unhappy, what later turned out to be a fear of getting bad news. We went on talking with love and joy about his brother Fernando back in Belize, about his wonderful wife Carmita, and their beautiful and intelligent children. Julio Cesar’s mouth began to form a big smile. We narrated him about Fernando’s religious activity, which seemingly made Julio Cesar content. Soon we started to take pictures, intending to send them to Fernando, proofing that we have found his brother. We offered them to write a letter, which we would send together with the photos taken, just as a first reunity help. We exchanged post addresses, and Julio Cesar gave us two telephone numbers. We found out that the contact probably broke, because Fernando’s  telephone number known to Julio Cesar did not work. We knew that Fernando did not own any telephone. While saying good bye, we could see tears of joy in Julio Cesar’s eyes, and we felt so grateful for that.


Unil, Gerson, Fernando, Ercilia

photo for Fernando's brother

 Fernando and his children
Copper Bank, Belize, July 2006

Julio Cesar (on the left) and his family
Coquiama, El Salvador, May 2007

hitch-hiking back from Coquiama to the crossroad

hitch-hiking back from Coquiama to the crossroad

We left the family soon, as we had to catch the last bus leaving to Sonsonate at 2:30pm. We had about an hour left to get to the crossroad, trying to walk fast. Lucky enough, a white truck passed us and standing together with Ju

a bus featured like a living room

a bus featured like a living room

an Duran on the outside of the load floor we reached the crossroad, and thus the bus stop, in only 15 minutes. Getting in the bus to Sonsonate, a whole range of colored stuffed animals looked at us right from the driver’s corner. Additionally, a video of John Lennon was playing, which fit perfectly to our fullfilled mission. Life is beautiful 😉