I think that us like Latin Americans, in general, we have a very vague idea of what Asia is. This is somehow expectable; our cultural and commercial relations with Asian countries are few if compared with other regions of the world, despite that has been changing quickly in the last years. However, most of Salvadorians would still don’t know much about Taiwan, its history and it’s culture.

If I have to describe Taiwan to my friends, I would like to start saying that is a little county full of good surprises and that a first visit to it would really change the way a Salvadorian looks at the world.

One of the characteristics of the Taiwanese society that I like the most, is the sense of respect to each other that exist between their citizens, and how friendly and nicely they treat to foreigners, being always in good disposition to help you find your way in an ambience where, because of the language and the cultural differences, you feel very often lost, especially in the case of most of us, ICDF beneficiaries, that we arrive here without speaking mandarin. However, for someone from Latin America, the first impression might be a little bit different. Taiwanese people is very reserved, and often very shy, if compared with the more spontaneous and ‘direct’ way that in our countries we have to treat each other. Vey often people here won’t look at you and will not even say hello to you, even if you have seen them a lot of times, but once you break the ice, that changes a lot and you can even realize that people is very interested by people from abroad and their culture.

 

To talk a bit about Taipei, the city where I live, I would say that is a big a crowded and messy city, that at a first moment would impress you because of the amount of motorcycles and people that Taiwanese manage to fit in such a reduced space. In fact once you know the rules and start looking how the city works, it’s obvious that is not messy, but and efficient and well organized city… but crowded?... yes, still very crowded!.

 

Taipei is also a very safe place to live. Like Central American, that is a value that I appreciate a lot. Being able to walk anywhere at any time with very few or no concern at all about my security is something that I will really miss back in El Salvador.

 

Finally I would say that the food, despite the complications that one might have to ask for it and to try all the different dishes that Taiwan has, is also a nice and interesting cultural experience. Most of the flavors and smells of the food in Taiwan are really not familiar to us, so it’s necessary, in order to enjoy it, to have an open mind and try to forget for a while all the flavors that you are used to (including the taste of the Chinese Restaurants back in El Salvador!) . I think that once you start getting used to them, and learn how to use chop sticks very well, Asia offers a rich culinary world. Personally, I’ve always enjoy seafood a lot, and in this island it’s very good and have very different and interesting ways to prepare it… some of them that I would like to learn to take the recipes back home.

 

In general I’ve enjoyed my stay in Taiwan and in general is an experience that is allowing me to learn a lot, and also to look back to my country and ask me so many questions about my own culture. I could even say that thought Taiwan, I can understand a bit better the place where I come from.