Wild Wild West


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Published: June 30th 2018
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San Salvador theatre
Being in El Salvador feels a little like being in a modern day western. It seems as if every other person here is carrying a rifle or pistol and a belt of spare ammunition. The reason of course is the number of security staff employed here (even fast food restaurants here have guards), the vast majority of whom are armed. There’s also a visible army presence patrolling streets. Most of the soldiers are very young.

Having said this, San Salvador is much more civilised than I had expected with new shopping centres, shiny fast food outlets and wide modern roads. Even the old centre isn’t too bad, though we don’t need to venture here in the evening as we are staying in the Los Heroes area. The main city sights (Metropolitan Cathedral, Theatre, National Palace and La Rosario church) are only a few blocks apart and once we find them don’t take much more than an hour or so to see. Though not my favourite colour, most of the historical buildings in San Salvador are painted a light brown colour. The Metropolitan Cathedral is meant to have a blue dome but I’m not sure if this has been outlawed by

San Salvador Cathedral
the light-brown police or whether it’s just undergoing renovation, but it’s definitely beige at the moment. The El Rosario church is considered to be one of the best in Central America and from inside the lighting from the stained glass is dramatic, even though from the outside it looks a lot like a concrete aircraft hangar.

Perhaps the most memorable sight we visit is the Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen (Museum of word and image). Though small this manages to convey much of the horror of the recent civil war, without resorting to over-graphic images. There is an interesting series of photographs from the personal collection of Archbishop Oscar Romero who was an outspoken critic of social injustice and who was assassinated in 1980. There is also a prominent picture of him in the Metropolitan Cathedral where he is buried.

We also visit 2 of the city’s other museums, the El Salvador Art museum and the Anthropological Museum, both of which are in the upmarket area of the city the Zona Rosa. Both of these are good; the art museum has an exhibition of radical modern art that reflects the turbulent recent history of the country

National Palace
and some of the ongoing issues, such as violence against women.

This is the end for our brief stay in El Salvador as tomorrow we fly to Costa Rica. I haven’t minded our few days here but haven’t warmed to the country. Whereas I would be keen to see more of Honduras I’m not sure I’ll be back here any time soon and would be cautious about recommending it as a destination, unless perhaps they are an avid surfer or birdwatcher.


Additional photos below
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La Rosario church - from the outside


La Rosario church - from the inside


San Salvador Cathedral


Window in Metropolitan Cathedral


National Palace


San Salvador theatre


Museum of word and image


Archbishop Romero


A civil war exhibit in the Word and Image museum


Sculpture in El Salvador art museum


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