El Salvador: Part I

A trip to El Salvador kick started my Latin American Tour and it was a very special experience for me. It had been nearly 17 years since the last time I walked the mean streets of San Salvador. But what made it truly special was seeing and spending time with my precious extended family. I love my family and I love my heritage. It was awesome to get in touch with my roots. I learned so much about my family origins and the major changes El Salvador has gone through in the past decades.

When I wasn’t spending time eating, drinking coffee and chatting with family, I was touring various parts of the country. There is a lot of natural beauty all-over the country and I was able to discover much of it. I’ll definitely be back to visit family and discover more of my land-of-origin.

Volcán de San Salvador

I woke up to this beautiful view every morning from my grandmother’s house. The volcano is hard to miss as it sits tall and proud in the center of El Salvador. It last erupted in June 1917 and is quite capable of destroying and causing death to the surrounding areas and its residents if it were to again erupt;  it is beautiful as it is mighty.

The streets of El Salvador

I loved going on drives and snapping pictures of the mean streets of El Salvador. Much of the country’s appearance has remained old-fashioned and you can still see a lot of the traditions of yesteryear. There are merchants and vendors selling something everywhere and people always seem to be commuting somewhere in a hurry. The streets are usually dirty and busy but there is always something interesting to see that will surely grab your attention. Don’t let your guard down though as the risk of theft is always high.

San Salvador Cathedral

I spotted several Cathedrals while touring various parts of the country and this one was one of the more modern churches that I saw. There was a more traditional cathedral nearby but these two churches are located in a very dangerous part of the country: downtown. Several zones of El Salvador are overrun by gangs. Las Maras Salvatruchas of El Salvador are some of the most dangerous and violent gangs in the world and it’s best not to enter their turf. Unfortunately I was only able to photograph one of the Cathedrals and had to settle for viewing the other from afar.

Los Planes de Renderos

This is the place to go for the best view of the city, but I didn’t find such luck as it was a very foggy and rainy day on the day of my visit. Another highlight to this place is the array of restaurants found throughout the entire mountain. There are also a lot of good souvenir shops found in this area, I scored several nice goodies at a good price here.

There is a dark legend that is said to have split the rock peaks up the mountain long ago. The only daughter of the old owners of this land, the Renderos family, was being courted by a mysterious horseback rider that did not gain the family’s approval. This rider made a deal with the devil to gain the young girls affection, but when he made the deal there was a large crash that split the rocks and formed the rocks to what they are today. This is the tallest peak of El Salvador, and a place that now claims the lives of many suicide victims who voluntarily jump off the mountain peaks. It is a serene mountain that will test your endurance as it is a steep climb, the overall area is beautiful and has a lot to offer. Don’t let its dark side scare you away!

Las Ruinas de San Andrés 

The San Andres Mayan Ruins has stood in place since about 900 a.c, even before El Salvador was called El Salvador. This site was once occupied by the Mayans. The Mayan structures are well conserved as you can see. It wasn’t until 1940 when this archaeological site was acknowledged. These ruins are believed to be used  as a site for commercial trading between what is now Guatemala and Honduras. There is a small museum you walk through to get to this site which showcases various aspects to these Mayan Ruins. Not too far from these ruins is the larger Mayan Ruins SiteTazumal. A destination I will be exploring on my next visit.

My visit to El Salvador was brief yet very meaningful. I spent a lot of time with family and a good amount of time exploring. There are many dangerous areas throughout the country. Unfortunately, it is not the safe tourist destination it once was. In fact, I was close to danger a few times and came very close to meeting my maker once. It is an impoverished country which enables crime and corruption. Despite these sad truths, I had a great time reconnecting with my roots and exploring. Check out my El Salvador Part: II to see the rest of my trip. Happy Travels!

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[…] my El Salvador trip I arrived in beautiful Cusco, Peru – where I would be spending the next month and a half. […]

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