This page is dedicated to the ways that I have kept El Salvador in mind since my return. If you have been there and are missing it, or if you are getting ready to leave and wondering how you will take El Salvador home with you, I hope these tips can help.
Identify a place or item that reminds you of your time in El Salvador. Remember a different story from your trip every time you are in that place, or every time you see that item.
For me, that place has been the hammock that I bought in El Salvador and brought home. I have a spot in my yard, between a couple of trees (pine trees, though I wish they were palm trees), where I tie the hammock. Every time I lay out there, I try to remember a different story from El Salvador, and I play that story over in my mind. This way, I am intentionally keeping those memories alive and active. I have so many powerful memories from El Salvador that I want to make sure I do not lose. This is one of the ways that I do that.
Keep in touch with your group members, even if that means an occasional text or Facebook message.
Our group recently had our return debriefing, so we have not been out of touch for long. However, I am sure this is something that I will value more as the days, weeks, and months start to pass. Even a quick text to say, “Hey, do you remember when…” is something that can bring a smile to your face. This allows you all to help each other remember the good times that you shared.
Have a group picture framed and keep that in your home or office.
I know that we have group members who have done this. What a fantastic idea! What better way to keep your group in mind than to have their faces staring back at you each time you sit at your desk? If not a group photo, then any meaningful photo from your trip can have the same impact. Maybe you want to remember your homestay family, that kid you played basketball with, the bread guy who would honk his horn while selling bread outside of your window each morning (okay, maybe not that guy), or a particularly delicious meal from Casa Oasis (if you can choose just one). Having a photo hanging up is a great way to do that.
Need I say more? There is no better way to transport yourself back to a memory from the past than to smell or taste something that reminds you of where you have been. If you can come close to recreating that sensation, you will feel like you are in El Salvador all over again, if only for a second. If you are in the Grand Rapids area, there is at least one pupuseria in town and the Mayan Buzz Cafe often offers Salvadoran food on their menu. If you can make the food yourself, even better! However, the less culinary inclined of us will have to do with going out to eat.