El Salvador reminded me how treacherous international aid work can be. It is one of the most dangerous countries in the world due to gang violence. It was not quite so bad back in 2005 when I was there, but the day I arrived a decapitated body was found near my hotel. The day I left, another was discovered near the office where I worked. Fortunately I never saw either one.
Walls, barbed wire, and rifle-toting guards are necessities here and in many other countries I’ve visited. But El Salvador is a beautiful country. Rare days off are opportunities for discovery, pleasure, and much-needed respite. On one such weekend I spent an idyllic day in a hammock at a beach resort that rivaled anything in the developed world. I also explored a colonial village and had a fabulous meal at a quirky restaurant with the funkiest objects d’art I’ve ever seen. It was gun-free, too.