I don’t believe you, but I love you anyway
They tell me this is one planet. All the same one. But I’m not sure I believe them.
Because I remember walking down a backstreet in San Salvador, where children stopped their futbol game (played with a clump of garbage) to watch me pass, grandmothers winked at me, everyone said hello, and laundry hung to dry on rusting barbed wire.
There was exhaust, and constant noise, and a large plate of food cost about $3. It was warm to hot, and I needed no vocabulary beyond T-shirt, shorts, and sandals. Violence was a very real possibility and twenty-dollar bills were too large to use most places, tens were pushing it.
But today I rode around in a car, since you can’t really walk around Iceland at present, and the sky opened up with an array of things that were all irrefutably snow. People are all friendly, but there is a distance between strangers that even I can feel, I who seemed aloof to the Salvadoran sensibility of space. The cold has perhaps hardened cheeks into a habitual emotional reserve? Or something about long months of darkness, of light, or of the relentless need to work together?
The barbed wire here is clean, and serves only to remind the shaggy ponies that they shouldn’t wander into the street. A small plate of food, elegantly arranged, three slices of lamb and some decorations around the perimeter was about $40.
$40? According to this site’s data on minimum wages in El Salvador, that would be about a third of a month’s salary for an agricultural worker. For a small meal. Ten long days’ work, one tasty but unsatisfying plate.
They tell me this is one planet, but I’m not sure I believe them.
But I can tell Them, one planet of more, I love it all. I love the noise of San Salvador, and the silence of an Icelandic field at night. I love wandering a hill town past indigena women in colorful skirts, and bundling up with the armored layers against the cold. I love cheese and ham on toast, and pupusas. I love the hearty belly laughs of latinos, and the hard-won smiles of pleased Nords. And I love, beyond love, the chance to come and see as much of it as I can.
I love travel. I love this planet. Hell, I love you too.