Students spend their fall break in El Salvador


Jacob deCastro

Bucket showers, no heating or air conditioning, no cell phones, long lines at customs, communicating in Spanish…what part of this sounds appealing?

Over fall break, this was the reality for me and 14 other BCHS students when we traveled 2,500 miles away from home to Guarjila, El Salvador. While this trip is labeled as a mission trip, it isn’t one in the traditional sense. Our mission wasn’t service; it was to immerse ourselves in a different culture.

The lifestyle in El Salvador is certainly different from the United States. The houses are different, the bathrooms are different, the jobs are different, and the language is different. That’s not for the better or the worst; life here and life there are just not the same. However, the most striking difference between the U.S. and El Salvador is the pace of life.

In the U.S., our culture is, “do this, do that, work all day long, stay up late, check your phone, check your email, eat on the go, etc.”, while in El Salvador people look at life a different way. Not once there did I see anyone who was as busy as the typical U.S. citizen nor anyone that stresses as much as we tend to do. The people of the beautiful country of El Salvador simply worry less and get more out of their day because of it.

Bety's Comedor, where we ate most of our meals.
Bety’s Comedor, where we ate most of our meals.

Our group of 15 students, Mrs. Wagner, and Mr. and Mrs. Hilton arrived at the airport before the crack of dawn at 4:30 a.m. While that may sound way too early for most people, the excitement kept me awake.

El Salvador is a small country, and we definitely maximized our travels in our limited time. We visited San Salvador one day and saw Oscar Romero’s tomb and went to the University of Central America to learn about the Jesuits during the Civil War. We also saw some of the country’s natural beauty. We hiked to a small swimming hole in the forest and hiked up the Eramon Mountain.

During our time in the village of Guarjila, we stayed with different host families. My family welcomed Bill Nash, my roommate, and me with open arms, guided us around town, showed us how to play damas (checkers), and gave us a place to sleep and shower.

Also in Guarjila was the Tamarindo shop where we hung out with some of the people of the village. They ranged in age from newborn to adults. Their smiles were some of the best moments of the trip. They didn’t care that we spoke very little Spanish, they just wanted to make us smile, too.