Dunlaps in San Salvador

Online journal of the Dunlaps' adventures in San Salvador.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

My New Life in El Salvador

Carla is from an embassy family. I love having embassy students in my classroom because they have lived in so many interesting places in the world. Lucky for Carla, she has lots of family in El Salvador to help her make the tranistion. Here is her story:

There are so many things that come to mind when I hear "El Salvador." At first it meant "vacation" or "family" or "beach," but now I guess it means "home."

I was born here in 1992, from a Spanish/Salvadoran mother and an American father. My mom was born in Spain, but she grew up here her whole life, and I have a whole bunch of family who live here. However, when I was 3 months old, I moved to Egypt. I can't say I remember much of what El Salvador was like during that time. All I know is that it was around the time when the civil war had ended and things were just beginning to get better. I would return here every summer-and for the births of my sister and brother. Later, as I moved from place to place, El Salvador was the only place where I felt stability. Even though we moved every 3-5 years, we would always return to El Salvador.

During these years, my family would go to beaches, among them El Zunzal and El Balsamar. These are exclusive beach clubs, but these were the same clubs my mom grew up in when she lived here. The waiters and staff remember seeing her grow up, as well as seeing me grow up. El Zunzal has amazing waves to surf in, and this beach usually attracts American tourists and surfers. El Balsamar is more private, and it is a gorgeous beach. Also, during these years, we would see family almost everyday that we weren't at the beach. El Salvador did feel in a way like home, because I always felt loved and felt like I belonged here. My mom would run into many people she knew when she lived here, so people that I see even today remember me growing up.

There was a time, however, when I was about 9 years old, when we stopped coming here during the summer for about 2 years. That's when El Salvador's change really hit me. When I came here as a small child, most of El Salvador was forest. Many of the highways that I see now weren't even there. I remember driving in the car with my mom, and hearing her complain about how much El Salvador has changed and how she couldn't find her way around. Coming to El Salvador suddenly stopped being the beach vacation I was used to. There was so much more to do! Now, we were able to go out to the movies more, eat at different restaurants, and go bowling. I guess that was partially because my cousins were already driving and had more time to take us around.

Then, in my sophomore year in high school in Virginia, I got the news we were actually going to come and live here. By then, I was used to moving. I almost was waiting for the move to come, but this time it was different. Usually, I started off new, but coming here was a completely different story. My move here was really interesting, it was very different from what I expected. The Salvadoran culture is very different from the American culture, especially in terms of family. Back in Virginia, I had an aunt who lived about 30 minutes away, and we saw her once every two weeks or so. I came here and it was the complete opposite, I see my family every day. There is always someone at my house: whether it be my aunt, cousin, great aunt or grandma. I have also met a whole bunch of people who I didn't know were related to me in any way. Everyone is so outgoing, and so close, so united. There is always something to do every weekend, and there are a lot of parties, too. The atmosphere is so exciting and fun! It has been a culture shock for me in many ways, but I am glad to see how wonderful life in El Salvador actually is.


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