In recent years, I’ve often thought of the influences some of the places I’ve been fortunate enough to visit have had on my life. I’ve gone so far to say that while I think like a Canadian, my soul is Tico (Costa Rican) and my heart is Salvadoran. In response to the comments made by a racist politician who I refuse to address in name or title, I want to share with each of you some of my favourite photos of El Salvador. A country I’ve been fortunate enough to spend a significant amount of time in over the years. While this country has had it’s share of challenges through the years such as natural disasters and a bloody civil war (largely financed by the US government I should add), there is a warmth, an intensity, and a sense of resolve that pulls you in and gets in your blood. And, while you can’t ignore the scars that are still fresh from years of conflict and now gang violence, you can also feel a tremendous sense of hope, of belief, and of love that wraps you in her arms and tells you that while life is hard, it’s going to be OK. I have many great friends in El Salvador that are like family to me. And, I’ve been able to share my Salvadoran family with many of my Canadian friends, creating a community and a bond that will last forever. A testament to the love and passion that the people of El Salvador exude. Don’t get me wrong, there are serious issues in El Salvador. Issues that make it a place that exists on the fringes at times, due to a consistent threat of violence, causing an uneasiness for visitors as well as Salvadorans who try their best to live a life of peace and dignity. And, when you consider the conditions that contributed to years of conflict and violence, how dare anyone, especially a racist politician from the country that caused a great deal of these conditions, call this country a “shithole.” To all my Salvadoran friends I want to send you my love today. Send you my love and thank you for giving me so much and contributing to the person I am today. I will see you soon my friend.