We got back from our vacation in El Salvador a few weeks back and I did not get the chance to post about it until now. All-in-all it was a really nice place to visit. Elsy’s family is very nice and it’s really a beautiful place. I took a lot of pictures and posted some of them below. I took some of them with the intent to create black and white photos but have not had the chance to convert them yet. I will post them when I get the chance.
Before traveling to El Salvador I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was kind of expecting it to be like Mexico which in a way it was but at the same time it was quite different . The biggest difference was it is a whole lot cleaner then the place I had been in Mexico (TJ, Ensenada, San Felipe). The people are also very nice and make you feel welcome. It ended up being nice then I expected.
The city that we stayed in was Zacatecoluca which according to Wikipedia is the manufacturing center of El Salvador. Wikipedia also mentions that it has a population of around 62,000 people which is a little surprising to me since Round Rock is about the same size. While there we traveled to a beach area near San Luis La Herradura and also went to the large cite of San Salvador.
Going to El Salvador I was a little concerned because I had read and heard that it is not safest place to go. Specifically it was not good to go out at night. After being there for a couple of days I realized that these types of concerns are the type that you can apply to any city in any country. Any city has it’s share of bad people and these bad people often do more bad things at night. This applies to where we stayed but not anymore then I would apply it to downtown Los Angeles here in the states. The overall rule of thumb is be aware of your surroundings and you will not be taken advantage of.
It is always better to hang out with someone who is familiar with the area that you are in as they are going to know the good places and he places you should stay away from. That is what we did and I would recommend that to anyone going anywhere in the world. That is just the wise thing to do. In my opinion the general concern about safety in El Salvador is overblown which is really disappointing. All the people that I came in contact with where all really nice and always seemed to try to make me as comfortable as possible. After being these a few days I felt as comfortable as I did traveling in Mexico at night.
After my safety concerns were diminished Elsy and I began to venture out on our own. Several times we walked down into the heart of the city where the street vendors were in order to do some shopping. We frequented the Pollo Campero that was in town for better then KFC fried chicken and air conditioning. At the grocery store I was able to find Red Bulls and Coco Pebbles cereal so I was in heaven. I even picked up a cool hammock that is now suspended on my back porch.
By the end of the week we secured a truck and had true freedom to go where we wanted. We visited Elsy’s uncle in the country and looked at some property that her dad had left her and her brothers. I definitely felt more comfortable driving in El Salvador then I ever felt in Mexico. People there are trying to get where they are going like everyone else in the world but they will still take the time to let you know when traffic is clear and it is safe to go.
Overall I liked el Salvador. If I compare it to my first driving trip in Mexico it is pretty comparable. I was scared out of my wits end the first time I drove in Mexico and didn’t have the best time. That initial fear quickly went away and for the 6 years years that Elsy and I lived in California we probably went back to Mexico at least 3 times a year. I think I could put El Salvador in the same category.
There were some things that were less enjoyable about the trip but in my opinion that is due to me being born and raised in the US. Also, these things can easily be acquired or fixed. Our issue was that this was my first time down there and Elsy’s first time down there with someone who had never been down there before. Due to that there were some things that we did not plan for.
Some of the things we didn’t realize were important (for me anyway) that ended up being important and could have made the trip a little more enjoyable were:
- Hot water
It is hot down there and because of that people have little need of hot water. It is common to go to a restroom and there is only one knob on the faucet for water (not cold or hot – just “water”). This was the same thing with the house that we stayed in – no hot water. I took a cold shower every day and hated it. Next time we stay in a hotel and the first question I will ask is whether they have hot water in the rooms.
- Air Conditioning
The other thing that the house we stayed didn’t have was air conditioning. It is not super hot down there but it is humid. A/C would definitely have made it nicer. We had A/C in the car on the final day and it was wonderful.
- A Car
We only had a car on the last day that we were there. While it was cool to get chauffeured around by family there is something to be said about going where you want to go when you want to go there. After a few days I felt comfortable enough down there that I could have driven us around.
- Internet Access
I really didn’t miss TV but I sure did miss having access to the internet. I mean with internet access I can watch all the TV I want. The house we stayed at did not have it and I wasn’t going to pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars to use the internet on my iPhone while down there. There were internet cafe’s but they usually closed early and I usually prefer to surf at night. That would be the second question that I would ask when l looking for a hotel. This is not an absolute deal breaker but it would make things nicer.
It was a pretty big change for me not having the above items and I believe if I at least had the first one or two items it would have been that much more enjoyable. People down there are not necessarily used to having these things so the fact that they are not readily available is not a big deal to them. But when you are used to having these things and then they are not there it was noticeable to me.
Would I Go Back?
Yes, I would.
Having the items that I mentioned above would make El Salvador an fun place to go. I know that I would have a much better time the second, third, fourth, etc time. I think for the kids to enjoy it I would have to go down there a few times and get into the grove of being there like I did in going to Mexico. Kids can get bored really easy so making sure that there is plenty to do is important to them having a good time.
Going to El Salvador was a life changing experience for me. It took me out of my comfort zone and let me see a part of the world that I think most of us forget exists. Seeing people down there go about their lives helped to remind me about what is really important in life and how truly blessed we are in here in the US. Seeing that other people do not have the disposable income that we do here in the states has made me more mindful of how I spend my money. It has made me thankful that I was born and live here in the US and that this is truly a great country.
El Salvador is a great country as well and the people there are really wonderful. They have pride in their land and take good care of it. They are hard working people who look out for each other. I am glad that I had the opportunity to visit.