Acajutia, El Salvador

THURSDAY FEB 6 DAY 12….

Stop 8

Central America is comprised of 5 countries. El Salvador is the smallest with a population of about 2M…..1M of whom reside in the capital …San Salvador.

The weather is tropical between 95 and 105. We are less then 1000 miles from the equator so the heat from the sun is intense. The terrain is much like Guatemala, not quite as lush, but it also has mountains and several active volcanos

El Salvador is very much like the the last several countries we saw …. the economy is based on farming, they produce a broad variety of fruit and vegetables…. and for many their world is centered around the church.

So today rather then rehash all of that….. I thought I would share observations about the people of these communities……a world that is really quite different then ours.

To start with, the Mayan women are on average 4’6 and men 5’3. Typically arms are longer and hands and feet are smaller. Sometimes the torso also appears thicker…..

So at 5’ 3 ….I fit right in with the guys.

…..most families usually have at least 4 to 5 kids.

the village people (sounds like the group YMCA) typically walk everywhere …young or old they walk to the market on sidewalks typically in rough shape and sometimes quite steep

Some use scooters, motorcycles and or decorated buses….basically our school buses …..

and pickup trucks shuttle groups of men standing in the flat bed

Younger people can be found socializing in small street cafes

but I did not see anyone with a cell phone…. young or old..

Most of the shopping is done at very small market stalls…..typically buying food for the day and basic necessities

To carry goods most women use their head as a mode of transport.

I was amazed at how they balanced these large baskets and containers and started to wonder if their heads were flat..

so I was curious….I got up close and noticed they use what appears to be a small towel that is wrapped in a tight coil that sits on their head…. they then use this coil as a platform to place bowls and baskets .

Handling the deceased

I know the culture is quite spiritual but this was a real eye opener ….how different cultures handle burials …..In this case I stumbled upon a funeral procession while walking in the street.

Earlier I had past a church and noticed a priest out front with a group of people and a pickup backed up to the church….. I thought it was probably some kind of wedding service.

I walked further up the street and as I was browsing at the farmers market I could hear this very distinctive music coming from a truck. It was very loud….a pleasant sound but something about it was kind of eery. I turned and saw that the same pickup that I saw at the church was moving slowly up the street…. looking more closely I could see that the truck was covered in flowers …behind the truck was a large group of women walking with umbrellas.

I did not realize at first it was a funeral procession and then I put two and two together and did get four.

I could see there was a man in the front of the procession carrying a coffin….. sadly it was a child’s coffin …. behind the truck was a large group of women and children walking and carrying umbrellas to block the oppressive heat.

Surprisingly everyone else at the market was going about there business as if there was nothing unusual going on…. talking and shopping

I was curious where they were going and found out they were walking to the cemetery.

I wanted to know more…. In turns out in this part of the world it is customary when someone is deceased to keep them at home. They do not typically embalm them so they must be buried quickly. They are exposed for all to see until the mass….. then they bring a wood box to the house.

The day of the funeral ….lots of praying takes place…..then a mass followed by the burial …..everyone either gets in this truck or walks. I was surprised that all the followers were women ….. I was told it is because the men are working.

… the procession was very touching

I was struck by the immense differences in our cultures… clearly they “work to live”….life revolves around family and the church..

versus for many of us …..who “work to play” whatever that may be.

So that is it for today ….Talk to you at our Next port …Sunday Feb 9.

Moving on to South America….. And changing time zones again… there is hardly a night that goes by where we are not changing our clocks …. something I never thought about in traveling the world by boat.

Talk to you in Ecuador

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