I woke really early and listened to the city begin it's day. Gecko's chirped in the dark, followed by melodious birdsong and finally light traffic.
The hotel pool/fountain area was even cuter in the daylight. I had Google translate the menu in our room so I knew what to order for breakfast; scrambled eggs, refried beans, tomato salsa, cheese, fried bananas, fruit, orange juice and tea. Gorgeous yellow birds greedily watched as we ate our breakfast by the pool.
The hotel is simple, charming, clean, with comfy beds, good internet and a delicious breakfast. The rooms were a bit tired but overall, it was an enjoyable visit. I would stay there again.
We had booked a private tour with EC Tours. Our guide, Natalia, and driver, Carlos, picked us up at the hotel right on time. Natalia's English was very good.
We had a short drive into the absolute heart of San Salvador. We stopped at a park where Natalia gave us a brief history of the country. What came across loud and clear was her pride and love of this place. She wants people to see the beauty of her country.
El Salvador is often misrepresented as being a dangerous country. This goes back to the civil war which ended over twenty years ago and more recently fighting between gangs. Crime is something that many large cities must deal with in certain areas. We felt safe the whole time we were there and the city was bustling with people going about their business.
We passed the public hospital and a new hospital that is still being built. Natalia said that health care and school are free in El Salvador. Children are also given shoes, breakfast and lunch.
The amount of outdoor markets and stalls were overwhelming. You can buy just about everything on the street.
The US dollar is the official currency.
We stopped at Basilica Sagrado Corazon which was constructed with wood from Indonesia and metal from Belgium which is made to look like real stone.
We made our way to the square in front of the Metropolitan Cathedral. I was delighted to hear the squawks of hundreds of quaker parakeets as they flew into the trees around us. As many of you know, we have a twenty five year old Quaker parakeet named Kirby.
The beautiful National Palace also flanked this square.
We walked to the next square which is home to the modern and colorful Church of the Rosary. The light filtering through the coloured glass of this arched building is truly spectacular. Even more impressive is the stained glass Eye of Jesus.
Back outside, we passed the National Theatre and made our way back to the Metropolitan Cathedral where we learned about the martyred Bishop Rosario who was assassinated in 1980 and recently made a saint. The assassination brought the civil war to a head. We also visited his crypt in the cathedral.
We stopped at a coffee shop for a coffee (John), which El Salvador is known for and a real hot chocolate (me), which is also an export from El Salvador.
Carlos picked us up and we drove towards the airport, stopping at a local restaurant for traditional pupusa. These are flour based doughs that are filled with numerous ingredients. The two we tried were filled with pork, beans and cheese and the other was made from a loroco flour and cooked right in front of us. Totally delicious.
I was delighted when they let me make one. It's not as easy as it looks. When I finally got it all together, the staff clapped.
Carlos and Natalia dropped us off at the airport. I am so glad we stopped in this lush, bright country. I would highly recommend a visit. I was also thrilled with the great tour and personal perspective that we received from EC Tours.
Our flight to Lima, Peru took about five hours. My cold seemed to get worse on the plane and my ears became blocked.
When standing in line at immigration, I realized that bringing a rubber chicken is down right normal when compared to what other people pack.
The prearranged cab to our Airbnb took about 40 minutes. Our Airbnb is on the third floor. We have a bedroom and bathroom off a rooftop garden. Our kitchen is on the other side of the garden. We are centrally located in Miraflores. Cool.
It was a lot cooler in Lima...time to break out the sweater.
COSTS and TRAVEL TIPS
Unless mentioned, all costs are in US$:
EC Tours... www.ectourselsalvador.com $114 for both of us
Pupusa lunch included with the tour
Note: Ectours also has a free walking tour but it does not include hotel pick up and airport drop off.
Coffee/hot chocolate $4.50
Magnolias Boutique Hotel - $68 per night
Lima cab from airport - $18
Airbnb -$127.00 Canadian for 4 nights
Tips are extra and I have not included them