Published: April 11th 2012April 10th 2012
Hotel Tazumal House
a courtyard at the hotel where we stayed in San Salvador
We arrived to San Salvador on Thursday, late afternoon. Arnold (our personal taxi driver we kept calling when we needed someone) dropped us off at the hotel (Hotel Tazumal House
) just for enough time to check in, drop off our stuff, and then drove us to a nearby mall called Metro Centro.
Driving through San Salvador, we kept mentioning how much better it seemed than Tegucigalpa (or "Tegucighetto" as we started calling it). The streets were lit, lines were painted on the roads, the roads were straight and neighbourhoods seemed organized. There was a difference between residential and commercial sections. The whole city just seemed planned and though-out, whereas Tegus is a sloppy mess of stuff just splattered everywhere.
We were blown away by the mall too. It was SOOOOO big, there was no way we had enough time to see it all. The highlights were a dollar store, an outdoor section of the mall, and a store that sold clothing for SUPER cheap. I found a beach dress for $5 and a shirt for $5! The pharmacy even checked Paule's ears to confirm an ear infection before selling her the drops. We then ate dinner at Tony Roma's
Good Friday Carpets
these ones were made with dyed salt... this one by the local Scouts Club
because I was craving their ribs as soon as I saw it! (The one in Tegus closed down). We then went back to the hotel to relax and head to bed.
The hotel is GREAT! They have computers with internet, a cute courtyard, modern sitting room and eating area. The rooms are comfortable with cable TV and AC. Breakfast is also included and they had a great typical plate as well as awesome pancakes and freshly squeezed OJ. The owner doesn't really speak much English but is SO sweet. Our first room flooded from a flash thunderstorm and she was so apologetic and upgraded us to 2 ajoining rooms upstairs. She also washed a bunch of our clothes (free of charge) in the washer and dryer, as they got wet in the flooding. Would I stay here again? YES!
Friday morning (Good Friday) we woke up and got our taxi driver Arnold to drive us downtown (el centro) to see the procession and sawdust carpets. These carpets were NOWHERE near as nice as the ones in Comayagua but were still cool to see. Actually, most of these carpets (alfombras) were made with salt instead of sawdust. There were
a few little kids running around and licking the salt. haha.
We walked around and looked at all the carpets, as well as the procession and some market stands. We had set up a time with Arnold to pick us up so we met with him and then asked him to take us for ice cream. We were SOOOOOOO hot walking around el centro. He took us to "Pops", which is an El Salvadorian chain of ice cream stores. It was so good and was so refreshing in the heat. We bought Arnold one too :)
We went back to the hotel to relax a bit and then set up a time with my friend Leesa and her husband Alex to come pick us up. Leesa used to live and work in Tegus for an NGO. She was in book club with me, and was one of my good friends from my "Stitch and Bitch" group. She moved back to El Salvador (where she had previously lived for years as well). So anyways, Leesa and Alex came to pick us up and took us up to a lookout point where we could see a great view of San
Wall of Underwear
In the market in El Centro in San Salvador
Salvador on the way to Santa Tecla. It was so nice to see Leesa and Alex again too!
The original plan was to eat dinner at a nice café in Santa Tecla (neighbouring city) but plans changed when we got there. The street is called "El Paseo del Carmen" and is shut down from traffic. Cafés put their tables on the sidewalk and people walk in the street. The only thing was that they had more carpets in the street so the cafés were closed. It was a nice surprise to see more carpets though! Leesa and Alex then took us to a restaurant in San Salvador that serves typical Salvadorian food. I had pupusas but we also saw this cool looking lasagna made with noodles and cheese but instead of sauce and meat, it was plantains and refried beans!!!
After dinner, Alex dropped us girls off (Leesa included) at an outdoor mall called La Gran Villa, that was GORGEOUS! We didn't feel like we were in Central America anymore. It was like some fancy place you'd expect to see in Miami or something. We took pics by the fountain in the center of the mall and then
Good Friday Procession
Downtown San Salvador
went to Starbucks, as Paule was overly excited at the sight of it! lol. Alex and Leesa dropped us back off at our hotel and said they'd pick us up around 9am the next morning for more sight-seeing! We were SOOOOO lucky to have them drive us around and act as our guides for 2 days!
So Saturday we got up, had breakfast then met Alex and Leesa. We started at the "Mercado de Artesanias" (artists' market) where we looked at some typical crafts of El Salvador. I ended up buying a beautiful peice that's a painted wood carving. It's SO colourful and I LOVE it!
We then stopped at a sweet shop for a morning snack (I got a cantelope and watermelon smoothie!) and were on our way to some Mayan ruins called "Sitio Arqueologico San Andres". They were no "Copan" or "Tikal". They were quite small, but the thing that got me was how much had still yet to be uncovered. I guess there's just not money for the dig. They know there are ruins under these mounds of earth that we were walking on (as they showed on a map of the site) but yet
These men dress in gowns and hoods and are part of the procession. Same outfits in Comayagua too.
the ruins sit there, untouched, under the earth. CRAZY! On the way out Alex spotted a Torogoz bird. This is El Salvador's national bird and is SO beautiful! It has a short tail then a long cord with two more feathers at the end. So glad we saw one while we were there!
We then took a drive NW to the city of Santa Ana. This is apparently El Salvador's second largest city. We went to the city centre and saw el Parque Libertad where the cathedral and theatre is. There was a schedule for the theatre on the door. Some presentations free and up to $2. They had Man of La Mancha coming up, as well as a magician, Mexican concert pianist, and a dance festival. Talk about culture! The cathedral was beautiful too. Gothic style, big, and white. We sat in there for a long while, chatting and taking photos.
Next, we were off to Lago Coatepeque. This is a volcanic crater lake and was also very beautiful! So many great sites in El Salvador! We got some drinks at a roadside restaurant in order to enjoy the view. You could see seadoos and peoples' summer
The biggest one in San Salvador
homes around the lake.
By now, it was about 6pm and we had spent an entire day siteseeing! We thanks Leesa and Alex for their amazing tour guiding skills and driving us around everywhere. It was so nice to see them again, and perhaps I will have to go visit them in whatever country they end up next.
Bridgette, Paule, and I ended up walking to a nearby pizza place around 8pm for dinner. We were so nervous walking the 5 or 6 blocks despite being told by both Leesa and the hotel owner that it was safe enough to do so. We've been so trained in Tegus not to walk anywhere! There was a false sense of security in the city (the country is only second to Honduras for world's highest homocide rate) but because the country has more money, it FELT so much more safe. We kept saying how much we wished we lived in San Salvador instead! :P
We finished packing that night, watched some TV and then were exhausted from the day in the sun. We woke up Sunday morning, had breakfast and met Arnold to drive us to the bus station. Unfortunately,
A neighbouring city where there were even more carpets for Good Friday!
the bus was about an hour late leaving so it was a lot of sitting around the station. We ran into a friend of a friend name Mark who was also heading back to Tegus. The bus ride was LONG again. The border was much easier though, as our bus and one other were the only ones there. We got back to Tegus around 8:30pm. We caught a taxi and headed home.
It was a great trip full of very cool things to see! I'm so glad I was able to see yet another country before I head back to Canada in June.
There are more photos below