Dunlaps in San Salvador

Online journal of the Dunlaps' adventures in San Salvador.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Bienvenus, Bienvenidos

Cristina is a new EA student who just moved to El Salvador from France. She is a quiet thinker, but she really comes to life on paper! I admire Cristina for moving here at the beginning of her junior year. She is making it look so easy:

Imagine two worlds belonging to the same planet, breathing under the same sky. Two worlds that have opened their doors to humanity and have welcomed each one of us into the beauty of its existence. Two worlds that seem to be separated by just miles of ocean but that are, to our great surprise, inevitably distinct. Two words, two worlds.

Bienvenus a Paris. A sophisticated atmosphere seems to have taken control over its people. Immense constructions, elegant boulevards, famous “brasseries” are marking its territory, introducing the advantages of their home. The hot smell of the morning “baguette” fills the city with delicious excitement. The first Taxi has just kidnapped its lucky victim and begins its tour around the streets of Paris. It crosses the bridge Alexandre III, leaving its passenger wordless as he sees the uniqueness of European architecture.

Bienvenidos a San Salvador. Suddenly, the air seems to have changed color. A sign catches my attention. A large panel of wood is holding itself with great balance on a weak iron ramp. A school bus just passed by. Oh no, wait, where have all the children gone? Men and women, holding each other tightly are in search of a hand that will help them stay aboard. Quick, turn around! Did you just miss that scene? A heard of cows, crossing the road as if it were its own, hoping the next car will make a stop. The daily chaos of the streets of San Salvador has just turned off the alarm.

Bienvenus a Paris. A young couple is taking pleasure in a morning nap under the skinny legs of the Eiffel Tower, enjoying an agreeable spring breeze. They later on take a walk on the large sidewalks of the Champs Elysées, admiring the numerous boutiques that dress up the avenue. One o’clock: it is time for a healthy lunch. They look up the choices that are presented to them and finally decide to taste the French specialties. To begin with, a dainty foie gras, followed by a reasonable portion of escalope d’agneau, and for dessert, the French’s favorite, profiterole au chocolat. Lunch seems to be going perfectly until the painful moment arrives. As the waiter approaches the table, the handsome gentleman doubtfully opens his wallet, carefully slipping out his credit card. As he peaks to see the amount written on the miserable piece of paper, the smile suddenly fades away, making place for a more unsatisfied look. Oh well, one more expensive but exquisite meal. I guess people prefer just getting used to the costly way of life.

Bienvenidos al Salvador. A group of friends has just enjoyed an entertaining day at the beach and decides to drive back early in order to make it for lunch at their favorite restaurant, Tipicos Margoth. This suitable “pupuseria” is the ideal place for a low-cost meal and presents a diverse menu that appeals to all kinds of tastes. Pupusas con frijoles, pupusas con queso, pupusas, pupusas, pupusas. On the other side of the road, two young teenagers have just arrived from their soccer match and would kindly accept a portion of “papas fritas de la calle.. What is better than a greasy ration of French fries with ketchup that some may call “junk food”?
- Se vende papapas fritas!
- Elotes! Quien quiere elotes!
- Pupusas! Pupusas! Pupusas!
The cheer of the muchachas echoes through the entire pueblo, inviting all those who would receive a typical Salvadorian snack.

Bienvenus a Paris. A woman steps in her Smart and drives through a red light, causing the orchestra of musical honks that seems to go on forever. On the other side of the street, a young girl walks out of a store, kindly holds the door open for a man rushing out as if he was late for his prom date, and stays behind without even receiving a “merci.” To add up to this bewildering spectacle, a young driver, proud of having earned his license, generously leaves clear the cross road for an elderly man who doesn’t even bother to offer a smile. This is how goes a classic Monday morning on the streets of Paris.

Bienvenidos al Salvador. Now turn the page and begin reading the story of a typical day in the heart of the Latino crowd. It was an early Friday morning and all students were arriving at school. This new girl had just arrived from the other side of the globe and everyone was wondering what she was doing landing in a country so far away and unusual. It was no time for asking such questions though. As the Latino culture requires, everyone got into their positions and welcomed the “French girl” as warmly as she could expect. There was no way that they would abandon a stranger who was entering a whole new experience. And so the days passed by and little by little, they began transforming the new girl into a half French half Salvadorian soul.

There is no way one could describe a place in our world being better than another. Each country has it advantages and drawbacks. Learning about how two very different cultures manage to integrate themselves in our society and bring significant impact to our lives is a way for me to discover what my existence is really about. After recounting my story, I have just a few more words to say: Bienvenus, Bienvenidos, Welcome everyone.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm guessing this is Cristina's essay and it is wonderful. I see a college application essay in the making already ...

I also thought I could not wait to visit Paris, but the picture so vividly painted here makes me feel as though I have been there and "experienced" it already. Wonderful job.

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow awesome description to both cultures. My wife's best friend lives in France and she can't wait to go back to see such an amazing country, but of course we might go t El Salvador first so she can taste pupusas since it's a bit closer, great writing.

2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel forced to make a contribution:

Bienvenus à Paris. 8h 00(French for 8:00 AM). Hordes of Parisians hustle and bustle beneath the busy streets at Châtelet-Les-Halles, the world's largest underground metro station. Commuters from every corner of the capital run to get to their destinations on time. Businessmen haste at Pâtisseries shaking exactly €1.20 in their hands in order to get their Pain au Chocolat before boarding their corresponding waggons.

Bienvenidos a San Salvador. 8:00 AM. A traffic jam ensues as a bottleneck forms on Av. General Escalon when suddenly two bus drivers decide they wish to be on opposing sides of the road and perform a beautifully orchestrated W-turn. While most people yell in annoyance, they reassure the concerned drivers "Don't worry, I turned on my directional light!"

2:55 PM  
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now I know it!

8:19 PM  
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5:55 PM  
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1:22 AM  

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