El Salvador: a country long elusive from my grasp. Despite multiple layovers here on my voyages to and from South America, I never really ventured far beyond the airport and THAT DOES NOT COUNT as a visit. Now I’m setting things right again and making it a proper trip.
Sadly, it had to be when we would find out that another coup would befall Sudan only 3 weeks ago, I figured it would be best to postpone a visit there and give a chance to El Salvador. Deciding 2 weeks ago thanks to the suggestion of longtime monsooner Mihaela and 7 signing up within 7 days, we made another impossible trip happen.
With the 4:40pm direct 4 hour Avianca flight for $220 roundtrip, this was the best flight price I’ve seen for El Salvador since 6 years of monitoring; the second lowest I’ve seen was $591 roundtrip. Although I had my negative COVID-19 test on a PCR that was performed within 72 hours of arrival, nobody ended up asking for a copy of my result at check in once they found out I was triply vaccinated for COVID-19.
Oh well, at least I know everyone else on my trip is with me is not only fully vaccinated but also negative for COVID-19.
Tony and I landed promptly at 8:35pm where we rendezvous’ed with Brandon and Kimmy after they had landed an hour earlier from Miami and were finishing up a power hour of drinks at the VIP lounge by Gate 5. We then headed to immigrations, paid the $12 tourist card at the counter in the left right corner, and then got stamped at the passports counter immediately to the right.
After a quick customs check we were picked up by a cab company our hotel arranged and taken to the serene accommodations of Hotel Oasis.
Taking it easy on the first day vibes, we got drinks outside my balcony terrace with these views of the mountains behind us:
The next morning we enjoyed breakfast at our hotel garden:
While waiting for Rajani to fly in later in the afternoon, we joined Chyne at a hotel down the street and took 2 Ubers into the city historical center.
Still recovering from the plenty of earthquakes and the civil war since the 1980s, the center is lined with abandoned office buildings and thousands of vendors and stalls that call these congested streets home.
We started at the National Palace:
Then we walked up to the Civic Square Captain General Gerardo Barrios:
Then up to the Metropolitan Cathedral of San Salvador, replacing the previous cathedral that was destroyed by an earthquake in the 1800s.
A steady stream of local and international tourists visit daily to see the downstairs tomb of Oscar Romero, the fourth archbishop of San Salvador.
Morazán Plaza is right in the center of it all.
Don’t miss the various Chivo kiosks scattered here, the new evidence of El Salvador adding Bitcoin as one of its official currencies (with Chivo as its mobile wallet):
Finally, by Plaza Libertad…
…we walked to Iglesia Rosario. Built by sculptor Ruben Martinez in the 1970’s, this church is arguably one of the most unique and “radically beautiful” buildings in Central America.
To enter, you need to access a small side entrance around the corner:
It may appear as an airplane hangar from the outside . . .
. . . but inside a rainbow of colors dance across the floor and across the altar; natural night bounces off the metal and rock as the sun changes its course throughout the day. Although no photos are allowed inside, the guards kinda looked the other way after doing their job and saying it to us. We did our best to cover it up so nobody got in trouble.
Come here when the sun is setting during golden hour so you can maximize the different colors you can witness dancing along the walls of the church.
After half an hour at the historic center we turned around up and took an Uber for lunch at a local Pupuseria “La Oloculitense”.
FYI a pupusa: a thick tortilla dough based corn or rice stuffed with cheese, pork, squash, refried beans, or loroco (the Salvadorean national flower).
We had 3 “loca” pupusas (one with everything), 12 pupusas of 4 different varieties, 8 beers and 6 large bottles of water all for $32 USD:
It’s right next to the Monument to the Divine Savior of the World. The Saviour is San Salvador’s Patron Saint and is celebrated with massive festivities during the first full week of August every year
At night time it lights up pretty:
Finally we returned for an afternoon nap back at our hotels while waiting for Rajani to arrive.
After repeating the morning’s itinerary with her with our driver Loreta, we then stopped for a stroll under the rain along Plaza Futura: an open plan plaza at the base of a modern business tower and a popular expat hangout full of restaurants, cafes and bars.
The plaza offers some great views of the city, as well as where we dined at Senor Gaucho with a local San Salvadorian Adriana, who had reached out to me last night on Instagram about meeting up after seeing my stories.
Afterwards Adriana invited her sister Rose to join us for drinks and shisha at Vanilla Lounge:
The night is still going strong, so check back for more photos; especially with our new friends Adriana and Rose!
- At time of posting in San Salvador, it was 21 °C - Humidity: 81% | Wind Speed: 8km/hr | Cloud Cover: rain showers