Traveling in El Salvador feels a bit like being in a club when the party is almost over. Everybody tries to hit on you. The guys just want to hook up with a girl before the night ends. The problem is, that in El Salvador it goes like that the whole day. They just do not leave you alone, even if you try to ignore them. Then they just scream: „Hey, look at me. I am talking to you!“. And as they are kind of jobless, it is no problem for them to follow you through the whole village. The bus is the last escape…
Another problem is the alcohol. Not for me I mean, but for the Salvadorians. Not one day passes without a drunken Salvadorian talking to you. The boozy breath can be smelled trough the whole bus. In the streets they lurch around, looking glass-eyed. Maybe that is the reason why anti-alcohol campaigns are so prominent on the streets over here. Well, maybe that is a bit exaggerated, but in the other Central American countries I have not come across that many drunken locals.
It also is quite evident, that Salvadorians seems to have more money that the rest of the Central American countries I have visited so far. Domestic tourism is a big thing over here. That may be the reason, why the tourist routes are very well developed in El Salvador. During weekends, the whole country seems on the move. Salvadorians hike their volcanoes, travel along the „Ruta de las flores“ (Flower Route) and take part in the gourmet food festival over there or meet for lunch at one of the many beach huts.
|The small village La Palma|
So, when traveling around these set routes, nothing can go wrong. There are enough cheap hostels on the route, tourist offices can provide information and guides and even maps. Also, there are definitely other travelers around. Then too, safety is no issue over here, there is always a police officer around. Even if you hike a volcano, they will just come with you. So, no worries. And you will for sure have reached a tourist hot spot, when there is souvenir shop next to souvenir shop. Not to forget the souvenir market stalls. A bit like in Mexico. (Just as a comparison: in Honduras I had to dig in order to find some nice souvenirs)
One annoying thing, though, are the buses here in El Salvador. At least for me, as I am carrying a huge backpack with me. Buses just seem not to be prepared for that. In Guatemala the old school buses had a luggage dump on top of the bus. Here they don’t. Sometimes there is a luggage ruck inside the bus, above the seats. You are lucky when your backpack fits there. But sometimes there is not even that. In a crowded bus there won’t even be space on the floor. So, the only option is to carry the backpack on your back for maybe 20 minutes. That needs some very good equilibrium sense, as the bus-drivers drive like crazy over here. As an advise, when thinking about traveling through El Salvador, just do it without luggage!
Despite the fact of the luggage problem, I manged to visit some nice places. However, non of them evoked the same „Wow-effect“ like I felt at places visited in Guatemala or Honduras. Even if you ask Salvadorians, they may answer that their preferred countries are Guatemala or Costa Rica. Nevertheless, one nice thing about El Salvador are the many colorful painted walls. Especially the small village La Palma near the Honduran border is famous for it. In La Palma the mural paintings were initiated by the artist Fernando Llord and now even many souvenirs carry these symbolic paintings.
|View towards the Izalco volcano|
El Salvador is also a good country for a volcano hike. A guide to the Santa Ana volcano or the Izalco volcano is just 1 Dollar (like almost everything over here). Another interesting festival is the food-festival along the „Ruta de las Flores“ in Juayua and Ataco. Whereas the food in Ataco is supposed to be more delicious. A tranquil and lonely beach can be found in Los Cobanos. There also fine fish food is served at the uncountable huts along the beach. To cool down after some hot days at the beach, the mountain village Alegria is a nice change.
And one last thing: Purpusas are the national plate in El Salvador. So just do not be surprised if you get it for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
|The crater of the Santa Ana volcano|