Jan Janssen has lived in El Salvador for five years. Although murder is normal in South America and peace is the exception, he feels comfortable. “The reason why I stayed here is my wife,” says the young man.
There are only a few places in San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador, where you can have a good time. Sidewalk cafes are an impossible wish for Western visitors due to the security situation. Just now. President Bukele has again declared a state of emergency.
Checkpoints, people being pursued, police officers patrolling the streets and prison transports. Everyday life is the state of emergency. And El Salvador suffers from the gangs, the violence and yes, sometimes the President.
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In the middle of this noisy city, which always seems to be in a furious sleep before a battle, stands a hotel. An oasis for people with money.
Security checkpoints, tattooed people are not allowed in, gangs have to stay outside. Jan Janssen is sitting in the courtyard of this hotel, peacocks strutting past the guests, screaming. He’s drinking a beer.
“It’s weird here,” he says. And by that he means the hotel. And then he nods to the door, to the security checkpoint, and says it’s not that dangerous in El Salvador.
Jan Janssen is conspicuous, a blond man, almost transparent, when he speaks he thinks for a long time before answering. And his answers are often not immediately comprehensible.
Long boxed sentences, many thoughts. Maybe it’s the Spanish he speaks a lot here that makes him talk like this.
He tells of a troubled life, the child from Kyrgyzstan, who learned to be German in Germany. career, make money And that is probably the most important lesson for Janssen: freedom.
He wants to use it. “My first tour was Interrail to Morocco,” he says. “And then I couldn’t stop.” Asia, Europe and South America, Africa. He travels countries, more than a hundred, and he’s happy.
The restlessness of the traveler means happiness for him. “I can imagine living in Germany again at some point, but not now.”
Janssen is homeless because he has no home. This makes him a delicate cosmopolitan who travels the world without any longing.
But even life in El Salvador is not easy for him. “I’ve been here for five years now, I’ve stopped,” he says, sipping his beer and looking quietly through the feathers of a peacock that has stood in front of the table.
South America won his heart, the freedom he felt in Colombia, in Honduras, in all the countries that Germans fear because murder is normal here and peace is the exception.
Thilo Mischke was born in Berlin in 1981. He works as a journalist, author and TV presenter. He has received numerous awards for his journalistic work, for example he won a Bavarian television award in 2020 and was named “Journalist of the Year” in the “National Reportage” category.
“Of course I’m aware of the danger, even in El Salvador, but you get used to it,” he explains. The people are still so full of life, so warm.
“The reason I stayed in El Salvador is because of my wife,” he says. A Salvadoran he met on a trip across the country. A child was born from this acquaintance. And with it the prospect of staying.
“I can even do what I studied here,” says the mechanical engineer, for the first time he seems excited, almost passionate. Then he raves about the possibilities in El Salvador: volcanoes, winds, ocean currents and sun, all possibilities to satisfy the world’s thirst for energy.
And of course bitcoins, according to President Bukele, cryptos should solve all problems. Energy would be prosperity, he explains. Prosperity that would pacify this country. Prosperity that brings cafes and ends wars.