From Mara Salvatrucha to Artesano of jewelry?!
Trip Start May 13, 2010
36Trip End Jul 31, 2010
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Iīve come across a lot of skewed and lopsided information throughout my reading about C.A. I donīt know why that is? The guidebooks make it sound as if Central America is just a wasteland, where the people lurk in the shadows, waiting to relieve you of your money. I read that El Salvador is a really dangerous place, as is Guatemala City. The truth is, I donīt really know. I havenīt experienced anything remotely dangerous. The girl I met from Sweden that is pedaling her bike through North and South America hasnīt experienced anything dangerous either and pretty much all the people that Iīve met, travelers and locals alike regard C.A. as a relatively safe place. Of course there are things we should all avoid but Iīd avoid those things in the U.S as well. Iīm not saying that the danger isnīt real or that it does not exist. Iīm just saying that the media does itīs fair share of fear mongering and it really does not do justice to the culture and the people of Central America.
Anyways...one of my artesano friends used to be a member of one of the most notorious gangs in the Americas, Mara Salvatrucha. He showed me this ghastly scar that he has on his left bicep muscle. He was shot in the arm, by a rival gang member. The weapon of choice was a shotgun. At the time he was 25 and for the last 10 years he hasnīt been able to do any type of hard labor. So for the last 10 years heīs been making some amazing jewelry. During that time, his wife was pregnant with his daughter and that pretty much changed his life forever. Even under those kinds of tense situations his wife was by his side and she helped him change his life. I had absolutely no idea that I was staring at the face of an ex-Mara. He told me that he was never into "guns or killing". Are you serious, how does that come out in conversation? He said while he was a gang member he just used his fists but heīs seen gunfights and machete fights. Heīs pretty much seen some of the ugliest sides of humanity and yet he remains someone who I can call my friend. He cooks for me, he shows me how to tie macrame knots, he helps me with my Spanish. Heīs like this giant Rasta-teddy-bear. I guess what Iīve learned from this experience is that, we can never be to quick to judge other people and that perhaps under different circumstances we might all have a dark side.
I captured some of his amazing jewelry on camera enjoy!