Friday, February 23, 2007

mas o menos

We headed up to northern El Salvador to Perquin, one of the last FMLN strongholds during the civil war. The town was tiny, bulletholes still in the walls, murals depicting struggles, glory, and hope. We arrived as the children were getting out of school and watched all of them wander past shouting Buenas! Then giggling Gringos! We've only seen a handful of white folks our entire trip, we've already grown accustomed to the lack of blending in.

We meandered up to the guerrilla memorial and museum, a three room tin shack memorializing the struggle of the peasants against the government. We were shamed as we walked the halls, seeing the US weapons, the tales of bombs and artillery given to their government by ours to stop the uprising, a righteous uprising aimed at bringing equality to the people, the poor, the coffee farmers and cattle herders.

I found myself with tears in my eyes, seeing the photos of the children, of the slogans for peace and an end to poverty, and the signs begging the US to stay out of their country. A man our age walked up, limping on a bad leg, and in broken english and a bit more spanish explained how he was 15 when it happened, a bomb dropped on his village, and he was hurt, and his brothers and sisters were killed. We were both teenagers then, in 1983, and I spent those years lip synching to Prince while he learned to use a gun to kill, to protect, to fight. To bury his siblings. We were both teenagers then.

Reagan, he says. Reagan didn't help. I don't know how to convey the deep shame and sadness I feel in my limited spanish, so all I say is Lo siento, amigo. Mucho, mucho lo siento. And then Reagan is an asshole. J starts to interrupt, but the man nods his head, says Si, yo se, es bien. We watched then as some children came running by, his daughter, tres anos, throws her arms around him.

And there weren't many words after that.

PS. Am trying to visit. I can't figure out how to make the freaking spanish keyboard make the (at) sign I need to to leave a comment at some of your spots (MamaTulip, Flutter, Kiki, HI!). I'll be back home soon and things will be back to normal.

But before I do, you'll get one more story about El Salvador. The hammock beckons.

Buenas Noches, Amigos


Thailand Gal said...

I remember those years too well. At the time, I worked here with CISPES. Reagan was an a... well, yeah.



NotSoSage said...

Ugh. The's a terrible one to live with, and so hard to let go of.

mamatulip said...

Hi, Jen! Miss you, but I'm enjoying reading your posts from afar -- altough this one kind of choked me up a bit.

Oh, The Joys said...

You are missed.

meno said...

And our government just doesn't learn. I hate that i feel the need to apologize for our presidents to the world.


Beautiful story.

acumamakiki said...

Hi! I miss you! But I do so love reading these stories and am anxiously awaiting the photos! Safe travels home friend. xo

ECR said...

My brother uses the German set up for his computer being that he's studying German, and he still hasn't figured out where the at sign is at :) So he gets the symbol in Word and cuts and pastes it into email addresses. If there's a word processing program on the computer, maybe that will work for you?

flutter said...

I am so glad you are having the vast range of experiences you are having. OTJ is right, you are missed

Mad Hatter said...

I think I'm vulnerable tonight. I can't help but cry.

Susanne said...

In 1986 I met a couple of German students who spent there vacations in Salvador helping. I didn't understand then, but I'm understanding a little more now.