I’m writing y’all from sunny San Salvador, El Salvador. I’m here for the next two months collecting data for my thesis. I arrived just about a week ago and so far things could not be going better. I’m staying with a lovely family that takes good care of me, the folks I’m working with at the hospital are incredibly supportive, and in general the Salvadoreños I’ve interacted with so far have been, literally without exception, strikingly warm and welcoming.
Just about the only difficulty is that my Spanish is lousy and, unlike Sweden, not too many people here speak much English. I’m getting by well enough at the hospital (mostly because my colleagues are a captive audience, and have to be patient with me) but it’s frustrating when you can only express yourself with the eloquence of a seven year old.
In addition to the language and the weather, El Salvador is very, very different from Sweden. On the one hand, I can afford to dine out again. On the other, it’s not so safe to walk to a restaurant at night. It’s an odd tradeoff. That said, my perception so far is that the safety issue here is blown out of proportion, that is to say, that San Salvador is actually much safer than I was/am being told, but the point point remains that in Stockholm I never had to think twice about when, where, or with whom I was going out.
I’ve gotten the impression that this reputation has a significant effect and is perhaps related to why there are not too many foreigners working or traveling here, as far as I can tell. This is unfortunate for the tourism industry of El Salvador, but fortunate for me since, in general, people’s attitude/patience with foreigners seems to be inversely related to the amount of tourists they encounter. This probably explains why people have been so friendly to me so far. I’ll try not to ruin it for future visitors…
Anyway, I look forward to sharing more of my experiences here including, when I’m brave enough to take my camera out, some photos.