Today was probably one of the more surreal days of my existence. I’ve known for months I was going on this trip, and I’d heard people gush over how lucky I was for just as long. I knew I was fortunate to have such an incredible overseas adventure…but for some reason, the excitement just didn’t build to its max until today. I got up early and had a problem at immunizations – I might just get typhoid fever for waiting until the last minute! Oh well. I barely made it out of my apartment on time, but I managed. Then I asked some friends from church to come over and give me a blessing. And then we were off! Neal and Ammon drove me to the airport. It was especially emotional saying goodbye to Ammon – it would be the last time I will see him for a very long time since he’s going to University of Pennsylvania.
The plane rides were just dandy – but it wasn’t until we were descending upon el Salvador at 7 pm in the middle of a typical rainy season thunderstorm that it really hit me. The view was dark – clouds the color of soot and ash covering the entire landscape – but I could see the volcano. It was that moment where I realized I was in unknown territory and I wouldn’t be coming back soon. When I got off the plane, the smell of wet air filled my lungs. The uncertainty was everywhere – but it was exciting. I got to customs and that’s where I really had trouble as I tried explaining why I had 3 bags full of medical supplies (in bags that looked like they could easily be used for cocaine). The man even took one of the IOLs and said “I’ll have to check the price on this..” he came back 20 minutes later with no charge, thank goodness..
The whole time I was waiting in immigration, Renata was waving to me from the glass windows outside of the airport. As soon as I exited there was a throng of people waiting outside, and finally Renata found me! To my surprise she was YOUNG! I had always imagined I was speaking with a 40 year old woman over the phone, but she’s twenty four just like me with LOTS of energy! We became instant friends. She’s very savvy, well traveled, cultured and just generally an incredible person. She has worked for NGOs for a long time and has some great experiences under her belt. We even ordered sushi in our amazing new apartment and are having the time of our lives. She’s incredible. I am enjoying every second. It’s been so refreshing.
I am so ready for this. The excitement is really building now – tomorrow I’ll get to meet Nina and the rest of the FUDEM women and I’ll be well on my way to starting this adventure…I can’t wait to see the friendships I make.