Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Presidential Visit

Barack Obama visited El Salvador for a whole 24 hours last month.  If you haven't been through a presidential visit at an embassy before, you haven't experienced the ridiculous amount of work that goes into it. Basically, most of the embassy shuts down for about 2 weeks in preparation. People are given sites, and they coordinate everything that is going to happen at that site. These people include embassy personel, White House advance team members, Secret Service, local staff, local governmental staff, everything. It's, in a word, absurd.

I got to watch all of this from the sidelines, which meant that I was definitely a freeloader on the whole affair. While Sophie was shuttling the press corp to the airport, I was shaking the president's hand (sorry Sophie!). It was pretty cool. He gave a speech to the embassy talking about how Americans abroad serve as the best diplomats to other countries, describing expats as creating 'ripples of hope' in their communities abroad. (A phrase apparently used by Robert F. Kennedy)

A presidential visit to a developing country is a strange thing. Billboards with the photos of Barack or Barack and Michelle were everywhere. Just the shear production of it all. It was crazy.  If you've read much Paul Theroux, it's at this point that you wonder what it's all about.

I figure this point is as good as any to plug a great blog about El Salvador. Tim has a great wrap up of the whole affair, and always has diverse viewpoints on a variety of issues in El Salvador, from pupusas to politics.

One of many billboards around the entire country

My picture, but a friend's hand.  The picture I got of me shaking his hand is... not as good.  He was ready for me to let go.


  1. Man, I don't even know how folks would react if The Big Man visited Nepal. Two thumbs up to another trailing husband! (www.hearthwooddome.com)
    - Ed, Kathmandu