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Refuge on the Road

A harrowing bus ride and an emotional meeting with his brother marked the latest leg of Saul Flores' 4558-mile trek across Latin America this summer. Follow his progress and view his remarkable photos from his journey.

Saul Flores (right) meets his brother Sergio in San Salvador.
Saul Flores (right) meets his brother Sergio in San Salvador.

After relying on the kindness of strangers for two months, Caldwell Fellow Saul Flores found refuge with relatives in San Salvador this week on the latest leg of his trek across Latin America. It was an emotional pause on the 4,558-mile journey, giving him the opportunity to meet his brother Sergio for the first time in his life.

“I loved him before I met him,” Flores wrote in his blog. “The stories that my father told me, the phone calls to El Salvador throughout my entire life, and the much hope I had of one day meeting him finally came together. Our words were silent, but the love was there. Our paths finally met and our encounter became a dream come true for the both of us.”

The weeks leading up to the meeting were less idyllic. Leaving the tranquil Costa Rican coast in early July, Flores hitched a ride as far as the Nicaragua border. But finding all the northbound buses sold out, he feared he was stranded for the night.

Two Hours of Prayer

“I have learned, through many border-crossings, that no matter how beautiful a country may be, the borders are always relatively dangerous and not the best places to stay,” he wrote.

So Flores jumped on the back bumper of a public bus and clung there as the bus rumbled along the countryside to Managua at 50 miles per hour.

Bus bound for El Salvador.
To avoid spending the night in a border town, Flores endured a harrowing bus ride to Managua before continuing on to El Salvador.

“After nearly two hours of deep prayer to God, I stepped off the bus and my legs shook with fear,” he said. “My 40-pound backpack created deep pains along my spine and my camera was trembling more than I was.”

Flores found a hostel, then continued his trek northward the next day. By the time he got to his relatives’ home in San Salvador two weeks later, he was exhausted.

Family Ties

“My feet were beginning to drag, and my spirit followed,” Flores said.

Meeting his brother and other relatives seemed to revive the NC State junior, body and soul.

“What a beautiful thing it is to have a family,” he said. “The comfort of sleeping in a room with relatives around me eased the stress I had accumulated throughout my journey and made me realize how blessed I am to have such beautiful people in my life.”

Flores is walking and hitchhiking across Latin America this summer to raise money for a Mexican elementary school. Along the way he’s taking photos of the people and cultures of the region and offering them for sale on his photo blog.

Flores is majoring in design and marketing.