Hello from Santa Ana, El Salvador! My name is Andrew Ochs. I'm a first year MBA student at BC, and this is my first year on the mission trip to El Sal. Every day a different student will be posting on the blog to let you know about our trip.
Our day began at 2:45 this morning. Fr. Justin Dean, a monk of St. Benedict's Abbey and our chaplain on the trip, said mass for us in the St. Joseph Chapel in the crypt of the abbey, and we hit the road at 3:30. We took the bus down to the Kansas City airport and crashed Delta's self check-in system because there were so many of us (there are 27 of us)...so they kindly moved us off and got us all taken care of. We flew to Atlanta for our connecting flight to San Salvador, and arrived in El Salvador around 1:30.
Shortly after taking off from Atlanta, we hit a bit of turbulence in the air...actually it was quite a bit of turbulence, the kind that makes your stomach drop and reminds you that God is the one in control of the trip! Fear not, dear mothers.We all arrived safely, and had no more problems in the airport.
After standing in line for about an hour and a half to get through customs, the CFCA staff met us at the airport. We walked out of the airport and in to 90 degrees of sunshine and Central American humidity! The palm trees and mountains made it quite clear to us that we weren't in Kansas anymore. (I'm sorry, I had to throw it in there at least once.) We loaded into three vans to begin out drive to our lodging at the CFCA headquarters in Santa Ana.
As our drivers navigated CRAZY traffic on the highways and in the cities, I was struck by the beauty of the mountains and the tropical trees that are like nothing what you would find back home. It was entertaining to drive through the city of San Salvador and see everything from combination wrist-watch and pocket knife stands, to flea market-esque shops practically sprawling into the heavy traffic, to good old American McDonald's and KFC. The billboards brandished everything from local political ads to Spongebob Squarepants. From our drive, I gathered that while El Salvador certainly has its own rich feel and culture, American culture has made it's impact. I'm looking forward to seeing the difference between the city and the villages the we will visit tomorrow.
After two hours on the road, we arrive at our home for the next week. CFCA has recently built it's new El Salvador headquarters, complete with offices, lodging for volunteers and Wi-Fi! We are occupying four bedrooms, two for the men and two for the women. Everyone has their own bed, and each bedroom has its own bathroom. (We have hot water for showers this year!)
The CFCA staff treated us to a DELICIOUS dinner of chicken and mushroom cream sauce, salad, and baked potatoes. It was so nice to have a real meal after essentially feeding on snacks all day long! After dinner, the staff here laid down the house rules, remind us to ONLY drink bottled water (even when you brush your teeth), and introduced us to the two dogs! Zack Larsen and Angela Porretta were very happy to have some animals around, as were the rest of us. And now, as I write this post, everyone's taking time to recoup, play cards, journal, and get ready for our first full day tomorrow. It's a beautiful night here in El Salvador.
Thank you all for your support and prayers. Look for more posts from us tomorrow.
Quote of the day from Jake Scott: "Welcome to not America!" Thanks Jake. Glad to be here.