In the end of March Diana and I packed our bags and set out for an unforgettable journey to Central America and El Salvador. Our destination was the Regional Training Forum (RTF) of the Americas which took place in the capital San Salvador. Together with almost a hundred crazy CISVers we spent an amazing week learning, doing and sharing CISV-knowledge.

We arrived the day before the opening of the RTF. Not entirely sure about whether we had a room booked or not we asked our airport shuttle to take us to Hotel de Antiguo in Antiguo Cuzcatlan, a nice area of San Salvador. We spent the day walking around on the campus of Universidad Centroamericana (DIana and I have developed a tradition for visiting universities) and in Paseo El Carmen, a nice pedestrian street with lots of street art, food and bars.

Next morning we moved to the hotel where the RTF was taking place at. We had read about the volcanoes of El Salvador before we left Colombia, so when we met up with other people at the hotel we all decided to go and check out the volcano of San Salvador. We hired a van and drove up the mountain and watched the amazing crater. A great escape from the city.

Back at the hotel it was time for dinner followed by an introduction to the Train the Trainers (TTT) seminar that we were going to attend the next four days. We were a big group, around thirty, and we all introduced ourselves and shared some of our fears and expectations towards the training. The aim of the TTT is to equip the participants with the attitudes, skills and knowledge necessary to train others on a range of topics within CISVs peace educational platform. We were in for a great experience!

Later the same night we enjoyed ourselves at the official welcome party of RTF El Salvador 2013. The first of many great nights together with new friends and some old. Tago and I met again for the first time since our village in Brazil in 1999/00!

The TTT- training was intense and hard work, running from 9am to 6pm for four days. For me it was a great experience. With my CISV-history dating back to 1999 I had already been thoroughly exposed to the principles and educational philosophy of the organisation. However, there is a great difference between knowing things yourself and being able to teach this knowledge to others. The TTT is designed to make us take this exact step. To not only possess the necessary attitudes, skills, and knowledge yourself – but also be able to teach and give this to others.

The training included a great number of sessions on different topics and parts of CISVs educational platform and was concluded with ‘practicums’ where we, in groups, executed a training session on a certain topic. My group trained the others in the art of volunteer recruitment and how to best promote our organisation. Other groups trained us on ‘risk management’, ‘LMO-cooperation’ and ‘how-to-use-activity-templates’ and more. Leading up to our practicum we had several smaller challenges such as ‘action planning’ when we had 5 minutes to plan a training that could take maximum 1 minute to execute.

All in all I felt that I gained a lot from the TTT. I acquired new knowledge, but maybe just as important; I gained confidence in putting on the trainer hat. Throughout the TTT-days we got a lot of new friends. The Salvadorean staff did their best to facilitate social integration through their daily legendary theme parties ranging from ‘dress-as-a-kid’ to ‘pirate’ and ‘funny hat night’. The days were for sure long, but nights (for some) just as busy.

After the TTT was over I left San Salvador for Santa Ana, El Salvador’s second largest city. My plan was to take some time working on an article I am writing. At the B&B I met a nice elderly couple from Louisiana who invited me to the local super-market food court for dinner. Nice, but very different from the buzzling RTF I had just left. Diana was still San Salvador taking a Mosaic-training, meaning that I was now travelling solo.

I thought that I would really enjoy this personal time, what happened though was that I quickly became pretty bored by the silent solitude. This lead to my return to San Salvador the next day where I joined a new CISV friend, Michelle from Canada, for a full day archaeological tour. We visited tons of pyramids and Mayan ruins – exciting! After the tour I reunited with the folks at the RTF for the last party, a pertinent closure of a great week.

Next my journey was going to continue to Guatemala, but first Diana and I met up with fellow RTF’ers Leah and Steve at the beach where we zipped on Pina Coladas and relaxed in the pool. Diana then left for Colombia while I got on the bus to Guatemala where I reunited with Gaby, a leader from a village I staffed in Norway in 2010. She showed me around in the picturesque colonial town Antigua before we drove off to Lake Atitlán and Panajachel rounding off two incredible weeks in Central America.

Well back in Colombia it is time to get all serious again. Only five weeks remain and we have more than enough tasks to keep us on our toes!