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A deadly trip and an unpredictable arrival to El Salvador

The Kiva fellowship starts.

With a backpack of 18 kg (half of them are the medicines my mother gave to me), a surfboard that cost me a lot of help and money taking with me, and a box of enthusiasm, doubts and hopes, I head El Salvador, as my father said, one of the most lethal countries in the world. But we always focus on the negative side these countries have. As one film says, lets see the bright side of life.

¿Did you know that El Salvador is considered in several studies as one of the five happiest countries in the world? It is also called as the “40 minutes country”, because it is strange to take more than that to get to your destination. Besides, San Salvador is the oldest capital-city in South America, having one the richest cultural and archaeological heritage in the continent Another strength it has are the virgin beaches and natural reserves, that, due to past insecurity problems, are not that popular as its neighbors’´. Finally, the country has figures than have marked history. For instance, Colonel José Arturo Castellanos saved more than 40.000 jewishs from being killed by Nazis, and Consuelo Suncin inspired the rose of Antoine Saint-Exupéry´s book “The little prince”.

Looking this way to El Salvador, it seems a great country despite its small size. And do not worry if you were not able to locate the country in the world map, I could not either.

After a dying  journey from Spain (15 hours at Washington DC airport + long discussions with the airline not to pay again for the luggage + a cryer baby behind me + out of order entertainment system), I arrived at 7:00 local time to the hot San Salvador airport.

The first thing we are told to do when we arrive to one of these countries is to register ourselves in the national embassy. After doing it, I was about to leave and walk around the city with all my luggage, but the people in the embassy immediately stopped me saying seriously: Are you crazy? You are an easy target in the streets of San Salvador! As I had no place to go before 18:00 PM, they advised me to go to a location where Spanish people meet, which is called “El Centro Español” and Spanish people don´t pay. ”Despite the tough crisis in Spain There are still places where we are welcome and it is free”, I thought for myself.  After their transmission of  insecurity, I had no chance to say no, so I went there.

I arrived to the place and what a fabulous surprise! This Centro Español was a social club where wealthy Salvadorians go. It had a nice swimming pool, tennis courts, trampolines, a gym and many more facilities. I was feeling in heaven. After my long (42 hours) and deadly journey it looked that El Salvador was winking at me.

Later El Salvador sent a crazy storm that caused floods in many regions of the country, but by then I was with one recent friend having choripanes and testing the Salvadorian beer Pilsener.

These were my last hours of occidental luxury before I met few hours later my great partners of adventure Fundacion Campo, Padecomsm and Apoyo Integral.


About the author

Juan Barbed

Ever since I can remember, I imagined myself suit up, wearing a tie and working in the stock market. I got my Finance and Business Management Degree in Deusto University and ESCP-Paris, and I achieved my objective: I joined a Wealth Management boutique. But after a couple of years of tough fight with European financial markets (especially with Spanish one) I had the opportunity to participate in “Imagine”, an innovation and entrepreneurship program in Silicon Valley. Visiting companies like IDEO, Google, lots of start-ups like Waze and of course Kiva, opened my mind and made me realize my passion was helping the poor and the moment to do what I loved was now. That´s why I decided to quit my job and to live a life experience doing 3 Kiva fellowships in 3 different continents and languages. But after the 2nd one, this unique opportunity appeared and my dream of being part of Kiva team came true. Keep on dreaming with Kiva!