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Our Vacation in El Salvador

November 12th, 2008 Comments off

DSCN0447We 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.

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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.

image 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.

Safety

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.

Exploring

After my safety concerns were diminished Elsy and I imagebegan 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 Experience

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

Back From Vacation in El Salvador

October 29th, 2008 Comments off

DSCN0447I got back from my vacation in El Salvador on Saturday afternoon. All-in-all it was a really nice place to visit. My wife’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.

image 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.

Safety

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.

Exploring

After my safety concerns were diminished my wife and I imagebegan 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 my wife’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 Experience

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 my wife 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 my wife’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 my 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.

Final Thoughts

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.

Photos

Here are some of the photos that I took while down there. The “Black & White Collection” should be coming soon.

Acer Apsire One – The Perfect Vacation Computer

October 22nd, 2008 Comments off

image As mentioned before my wife and I are down in El Salvador. After a little hesitation  decided to our Aspire One with us. I am glad that I did. Due to where we are you don’t want to carry a computer around with you everywhere. The first reason forth that is that you are on vacation. The second is safety.

After a few days here I have a pretty good feel for the area that we are in so my wife and I ventured to a ciber cafe where they let me plug into their network. Really this is my wife’s computer so she should be using it but the other computers have Windows En Espanol so they are a little more difficult to use (at least that is what I told her ;-) ). Anyway it is really cool to have your own computer to surf and connect to the rest of the world.

The biggest thing that I like about he Aspire One is how little it weighs. Really, I could carry twelve of these things. I am used to carrying my IBM T60 and my MacBook around and those guys with their power packs and everything are easily 20 ponds. The Aspire One is about 2 1/2 pounds with everything. The other nice part is that I am using the same back pack that I usually use with the other 2 laptops so we have room for a lot more stuff like snacks and souvenirs.

I am seriously considering getting my wife a pink Aspire One so I can inherit this blue one for myself. That sounds like a good Christmas present for her me for both of us.

On Vacation in El Salvador

October 22nd, 2008 Comments off

el-salvador Tomorrow morning I am on my way to El Salvador for the first time. It is my wife’s native land and she has been wanting me to see it since before we were married. We will be spending a week down there visiting family on both of her parent’s sides.

I am hoping and expecting that it is going to be similar to Mexico, I have not traveled extensively in Mexico (only the Baja area) but I have see the little towns and the larger cities and my wife says that it is similar. My wife’s nephew who lives here in the states has a house down there that we are going to stay at. Another family member is going to drive us around while we are there as well.

We are bringing the trusty Acer Aspire One netbook with us. It is perfect for the trip as it is really small and light and God forbid if we lose it we will only be out $350. I am hoping to find some wifi down there to do some blogging and surfing. I don’t think that I have every been without internet access for more then a day or so in the last 10 years so I hope that I don’t go through withdraws if we don’t find access.

My wife is as bad off as I am every since she got her first gen iPhone. I call her a “Craigslist Junkie” because every time I turn around she is browsing craigslist.com. We will see how she fairs on the trip.

Well I got to sign off now, It is midnight and I have to be up at 5am in order to catch my plan at 7am.