My trip to El Salvador was an experience of a lifetime; it happened by chance, but I am glad it did. Traveling to El Salvador or any other country was never in my list of things to do. When I take a vacation, I usually head on to Ocean City, Maryland. As a matter of fact, this is my first time ever outside the United States.
So, how I end up going to El Salvador? Well, let me share with you how it happened. I work in a construction company in Laurel, Maryland. This company has a lot of Salvadoran working on it.
Towards the end of January, about 80% of the employees at the company I work were going to take an unpaid week off. The reason for the week off was because the company was sold, and the new owners were taking over.
Five Salvadorans who are part of the crew I work with were talking about spending the week in El Salvador; if they could find cheap flights. Me being me, I told them to count me in. Of course, I was kidding, I had no intention of traveling anywhere, let alone El Salvador.
What Have I done!
The following day, the oldest of the group call me and ask me if I was in. I asked him, what are you talking about? He reminded me of what I have said the day before to count me in on the trip.
I told him that I was just kidding and that I didn’t have enough money to go on vacation, which was a true statement. He told me that if I didn’t want to go, it was okay. But, if the only reason for not going was money, I should go.
I was confused, why should I travel, if I didn’t have money; he told me that they didn’t have extra money either. But, they had taken this vacation before with hardly any money, and they knew how to make it work. Trust me, he said, it will be fun!
What you know, I said yes, let’s do it. We bought the tickets on American Airlines leaving from Reagan Airport in DC to Miami and then to El Salvador. This was the cheapest route available.
After I paid for the non-refundable cheap ticket, I was asking my self the following. What have I done, why did I say yes? There was no going back at this point.
Flying to El Salvador.
The flight to El Salvador was smooth, with no complications. We were set to land in El Salvador at around 1pm, local time. During the flight, I asked about hotel reservations and transportation; something, I should have asked beforehand.
They told me that the trip was going to be a poor man’s Salvadoran style vacation. What, what does a poor man’s Salvadoran style vacation means? He informed me that we were going to stay with their relatives and that his cousin was going to drive us around; all we needed to do is pay for gasoline. Just be open-minded, he said, it will be a fun trip.
Staying in Cabañas and sharing all expenses.
To save in accommodations, we stayed at my friend’s relative’s homes in Cabañas. I stayed the entire time in Sensuntepeque, the other guys stayed in San Isidro and La Puebla; small towns in the department of Cabañas.
There was no hotel bill, so all I needed to pay was for food and ship in for gas. They explain to me that we were going to take day trips to different tourist locations as a group. In addition to the six of us, there were going to be nine other people joining us.
The way it worked is that we all ride together to the tourist destination; once there, everyone did their own thing and went their separate way. All the expenses during the trip were to be shared among the 14 people, not including the driver. It was a particular way of not spending money on transportation.
Day one. Sunday at Kilo 14, La Costa del Sol.
We arrived at El Salvador on a Sunday at around 1pm. My friend’s cousin picks up on a double cabin pick up Toyota truck. What now I asked! They responded by saying; now, we go to the beach for lunch and hang out.
We drove to a place called Kilo 14, located at the famous Costa del Sol beach; it is some kind of resort that charges by the person. It cost me a dollar to have access to the pool, and the beach was right there as well.
When we got there, about 12 people were hanging around these two cabins and having a barbeque; they were friends and relatives of the people I was with. To my surprise, almost all of them spoke English.
We stayed at the beach until about 5pm; at that point, it was time to start driving to Sensuntepeque in the department of Cabañas.
Day two. Monday, heading to El Cuco beach in San Miguel.
The plan for day two was to spend the day at one of the most visited beaches in El Salvador, El Cuco beach.
We left Sensuntepeque at about 6 am and started the 3-hour drive to El Cuco. I got to tell you, getting to El Cuco is a long drive, but the beach is worth visiting.
We ate breakfast at a small location by El Puente de Oro or the gold bridge. This bridge was destroyed by FMLN guerilla fighters during the civil war.
We got to El Cuco beach and stayed there until about 4pm; it was a fantastic beach. On the way back, we ate pupusas for dinner at a small town called San Ildefonso; it is located near Villa Dolores or La Puebla. These were some of the best pupusas I have ever had.
Day Three. Tuesday, Hiking the Santa Ana volcano.
This was something different for me; never in a million years would I consider hiking a volcano. This time, it was just me and two of the guys, no one else wanted to spend time hiking this volcano.
They decided to hike the volcano with me, so I could say that I have done it; that was the only reason they were doing it. Hiking the Santa Ana Volcano was not easy, but the views from the summit are astonishing.
Day four. Wednesday, hanging out in San Salvador.
Day four, we spend it hanging out in San Salvador; almost the entire time was spent at the downtown historic district.
I got to see historic buildings and plazas, as well as the national cathedral and El Rosario church. Once again, this was done by them so I could see this part of El Salvador.
Day Five. Thursday, Spending the day at El Puerto de La Libertad.
We spend this day at the town of La Libertad, specifically near the beach called El Puerto or the port. This is a nice area, it has plenty of small restaurants, bars, and stores.
We got to this town around 9 am and spend almost the entire day at the beach hanging out relaxing. We left the beach around 6 pm to start our 4-hour drive back to Cabañas.
Day Six of my trip to El Salvador. Friday, hanging out in Sensuntepeque.
I was so happy this day end up just relaxing in this small town. My trip to El Salvador included going to different beaches, hiking the volcano, and visiting the capital, it was fun. But, it was exhausting as well, I was ready for a day of relaxation.
I spend the day relaxing in a hammock at my friend’s relative’s homes; I watched Netflix, surf the internet, and slept. It was a good day.
Day Seven. Saturday, heading back to the states.
This was the part I was not looking forward to, our flight was leaving El Salvador for Miami around 2 pm. However, we had a four-hour layover in Miami.
On the way to the airport, we stopped for lunch at a small restaurant on the Pan American highway. The food was your traditional Salvadoran food, but this place had an incredible view of the San Vicente Volcano.
Am I going back to El Salvador?
Yes, I am definitely going back to El Salvador. It was a trip that I didn’t want to take; nevertheless, I am glad I did. I am happy that my first trip outside the US was to El Salvador.
I spent seven amazing days in El Salvador. The total I spent on this trip was less than $600, including airfare.
Next time I visit El Salvador, I want to go to the western part of the country. I would love to visit the mountain towns and visit a coffee plantation.
Should you visit El Salvador?
I think people should visit El Salvador; it is a nice country that is not that expensive. Also, it is not that far from the US.
Since I got back, people have asked me if I saw any crime or gang members. In all honesty, I didn’t. I saw graffiti in some areas, but not much of what you see in parts of Maryland or DC.
During my visit, I never felt unsafe. Maybe it was because I was with local people that know where to go. El Salvador travel advisory by the US state department.
Thanks to everyone involved on my trip to El Salvador.
I want to say thanks to all the people I met during this vacation, but especially to my five coworkers that allow me to take this trip with them. Also, to their family that allows me to stay in their home for six days.
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