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Published: July 29th 2013
After spending a few months on the very strong Central American gringo trail the offer to go and stay with a friend from back home in San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador was a bit of a godsend. Prior to the offer I had tracked up through the Central American countries quicker than I had originally anticipated and I still had a number of weeks until I was due to meet Tian in Guatemala. Jay had actually started his trip a month before me and was meant to have done my trip in reverse, however he had gotten sidetracked and was actually renting an apartment in the city with a lovely French-Canadian girl called Gaëlle.
The thing that immediately strikes you travelling through El Salvador is that everyone is confused as to why you are there. The immigration officials thought it was so suspect when I said that I was entering the country because I wanted to see some of it that I ended up changing my answer and saying that it was because I wanted to surf - The same seemed to apply to the local youths. The first night that I was in town we
went to go and see Paul Oakenfold (a Brittish dj) perform at the convention Centre. During the time that I was at the event, not only did I have the event photographers stalk me like the paparazzi whenever Jay left me to go to the bathroom, but I also had at least ten different people come up to me and ask me what I was doing there. When I replied that I was there for the music they were like, but I mean what are you doing in El Salvador? I personally found it a little sad that none of the locals could comprehend why a tourist would want to be in their country, but at the same time it was very refreshing to be in a place where the population had not been ruined by tourism.
By the time I'd been in El Salvador for a week I had also become friends with Jays housemate Gaëlle. Being French Canadian, she had been invited to the French Embassy's Bastile Day celebrations by an American guy living in Guatemala who seemed a little too keen. Before too long Gaëlle had put out the distress call that she needed
a buffer. As Jay was yet to get himself pretty enough for the evening I headed out to the Crown Plaza to meet her. What I had assumed would me a drive by and us heading out to drinks resulted in me crashing the function and dancing the night away with the president of Panamá along with a few others. Needless to say the men on the table were mildly confused when they asked where I worked and I responded that I was a jobless backpacker - or as I like to put it 'a lady of leisure'.
After spending about 10 days at the apartment I decided that I'd outstayed my welcome and set off once again to go and meet up with Kip in Santa Ana. The town itself didn't have a lot to offer, but it was a good gateway for volcano climbing and waterfall trekking. We headed off one day to the waterfalls and actually had to get a police escort and the kind of service that we were offered as tourists was second to none. Two police offerers drove us out to the falls in their squad car, one of them waited with the vehicle and the other escorted us to the falls, where they proceeded to stand guard as we swam and then not only drove us back to town, but also dropped us off at a restaurant that they thought was perfect for lunch. Talk about service with a smile. Also the hostel that I stayed at in Santa Ana (Casa verde) was absolutely amazing with not only two kitchens that were more equipped then my mothers back home, but it also had one of the nicest and most generous owners that I have met in the last nine months that I've spent travelling.
All in all I had a really good time in El Salvador. It was good to get off the gringo trail and also to hang out with someone familiar from back home. I must admit though, it was very odd getting stalked around a number of events by the photographers like they were paparazzi (not only the event at the convention centre, but also at an international surf competition on the coast) and I am very glad that it is not something that I have to deal with on a regular basis. So many people talk of El Salvador as being a dangerous place, but at the end of the day, a lack of tourist infrastructure meant that people were just generally more curious about foreign people then having a desire to harm them.
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