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El Salvador

I’ve had more than a month to think about this post, about where to begin to try to convey to you the power of this trip from the incredible people involved to the breathtaking (though often desolate) landscapes. And I still have absolutely no idea what to say.

I thought that after a few weeks of being home, of diving back into the hustle and bustle of everyday life, the images from El Salvador would begin to lose their grip on me. That I would no longer recall in such precise detail the feel of little Eddie’s dusty hand in mine, the lines etched so deeply into the faces of the women carrying water up the grade, the tightness in my chest and the humble shame I felt watching a man excitedly squeeze his calloused feet into the old running shoes that I’d considered “throw-aways.” I thought that, like so many vacations and trips before this, I would have that sense of unreality about El Salvador, that feeling of having dreamed the entire thing but never having really left home. I thought that given a bit of time, my usual weakness for all things Pottery Barn would kick back in without hesitation and the lessons learned would fade into sepia-toned generalizations. Maybe all of that will happen, maybe it just takes more than a month. Maybe.

But at the moment, I can still feel the heat of my sunburn and the gritty taste of dust and salty sweat. I can see smiling kids climbing dirt hills and onto the backs of the incredible high-schoolers who displayed endless patience even when utterly exhausted. I can hear laughter and pick-axes and halting English-Spanish conversations. And extra hands running to grab the end of a dragging concrete column. And tears of gratitude. And the spray of sunscreen. And a choked, wordless embrace of thanks. I remember with hilarity every single word to “Build Me Up Buttercup” (or “Living on a Prayer” or anything by Adele) as a second wind passed through the bus leaving the worksite. The woman who had nothing to call her own press the papusa she’d made into my hands and smilingly urging me to “eat! eat!” despite her own frequent hunger.

I wish I had all of the words. I wish I could adequately convey how amazed and astonished and impressed and proud I am of the group of kids we were with. They raised more than $50,000 to buy all of the materials to build eight homes for eight families. Eight. And then they flew thousands of miles in order to build those houses with their own hands. And when given choices like zip line tour vs. orphanage, extra fun vs. bunk bed sets for the eight houses, they always chose to give more of themselves, they chose orphanages and bunk beds and asked what more they could do. And they did it with smiles on their faces, giving freely of themselves, their labors, their hearts. So so SO proud of every single one.

Okay, okay…I will stop talking and share some photos…I’m sure I’ve included too many, but there were hundreds more I wanted to share, so this was the best I could do! If you have a few minutes, take a look at the slideshow at the bottom…it definitely gives a better sense of the trip than my poor articulation does (despite my clearly NOT being a filmmaker of any sort!!!)!

















The families that are now living in the homes…








The town invited the kids to a friendly game of futbol…so fun!





You know what they say about all work & no play! On days that mortar was drying and supplies were en route, we had a little fun! Volcanoes, Mayan ruins, and an incredible black sand beach!





I have no idea where everyone found the energy, but evenings were spent playing some wicked games of “wink tackle” and throwing the occasional dance party…hilarious!

{bear with me on the slideshow…for some reason it’s not as sharp as it should be and isn’t sharp at all when you go full screen, but I’m working on it!! Update soon if I can figure it out!!}

Interactors…seriously you guys…there is no other way to put it…you totally FNI! You’re awesome!!!

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  • Off to Europe!! » Cuppa PhotographyApril 22, 2013 - 6:58 am

    [...] year I experienced travel to a developing country for the first time. First to El Salvador and then to Haiti, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I felt intimidated and nervous and so very [...]ReplyCancel

  • El Salvador 2013 » Cuppa PhotographyApril 15, 2013 - 12:28 pm

    [...] was lucky enough to go back to El Salvador a few weeks ago. Like last year, I went with a group of motivated and dedicated high school students from the Keene, New Hampshire, [...]ReplyCancel

  • [...] second trip to El Salvador and to the small mountain town of Talnique. Because I’d been there once before, I assumed that I was totally prepared and would somehow not be affected by the insane spectrum of [...]ReplyCancel

  • [...] product for the families in El Salvador that we worked with {framed images for the new homes, community book , [...]ReplyCancel

  • [...] may remember Marin from the photos from El Salvador last spring! She was one of the awesome kids responsible for raising all that money and putting in [...]ReplyCancel

  • [...] We met in her hometown of Keene and had a blast at Robin Hood Park! You may remember Molly from El Salvador…she’s one of the kids who worked so hard to build homes all week, and one of my [...]ReplyCancel

  • [...] to hang out with Marisa (who you may recognize as the bleeding leg wound from the slideshow from El Salvador!), but to get a chance to meet her family!! What a fantastic time!! Thank you so much, Marisa!! You [...]ReplyCancel

  • [...] was the trip to El Salvador that Justin and I took in February (you can read about that here & here!) and in some ways that certainly helped prepare me for Haiti. But every trip is unique, and Haiti [...]ReplyCancel

  • [...] As if I weren’t already floored by the kids that I was fortunate enough to get to know in El Salvador, it turns out that they all have gobs of talent on top of giving hearts and awesome work ethics! I [...]ReplyCancel

  • Kim TApril 18, 2012 - 10:28 am

    I’m not sure how I ended up on your website but I enjoyed your beautiful photos. El Salvador changed me the first time I returned. My son-in-law is from a rural area there and now it is my home-away-from-home. The people of this country are amazing.ReplyCancel

  • KimApril 12, 2012 - 6:57 pm

    tears and a lump in my throat! What an honor for you and Justin and all the kids!ReplyCancel

  • Molly MaliskaApril 12, 2012 - 4:38 pm

    cindy this is awesome! brought back such great memories! you say we FNI? well so do you! almost brought tears to my eyes honestly…ReplyCancel

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