El Salvador is a tiny Central American nation known for its Pacific Ocean beaches, surfing and mountainous landscape. Its Ruta de Las Flores is a winding journey past flowering coffee farms, rainforest zip-line sites and towns like Juayúa, with its weekend food festival, and Ataco, home to vivid murals. The capital, San Salvador, with a dramatic backdrop of volcanoes, has vibrant nightlife and arts scenes.
A Journey to El Salvador!
In October 2015 I was invited to visit El Salvador in November. I was a little reluctant for a couple of reasons, the primary one being time. It was short notice and I did not really know what El Salvador had to offer. After a little prayer and some discussion with Joan, I decided to embark on this journey to Central America.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that one of Avianca’s hubs is San Salvador, capital city of El Salvador, and has a direct flight from Toronto. What a pleasant surprise for a flight to Central America. I departed from Ottawa on a noon flight, had a 2-hour layover in Toronto and arrived at the airport in El Salvador just before 8:00 PM. The airport was easy to navigate and Immigration and Customs took about 30 minutes. I was not prepared for what happened next – I stepped out of the terminal and WAM! I was hit by 30°C heat (when I left Ottawa it was about 8°C) and my glasses fogged up. Well I cleaned my glasses and boarded my bus for San Salvador. The airport is about 45 minutes outside of the city. Just a note about Avianca – the service was incredible, great supper, snack and free drinks! The drive was very nice, but it was dark and I could not see much. I am still not sure if I was seeing things but I think I saw a 5 ton truck driving down the road with about 5 people sleeping in hammocks. I overnighted at the Intercontinental Real San Salvador, an IHG property. The next few days I was scheduled to tour the country and I could not wait.
Tour of San Salvador - the city of San Salvador is alive with life. Very busy city with all the modern amenities of a North American city – KFC, Pizza Hut, Tony Roma’s, Walmart…..We started our tour learning about Bishop Romero, a catholic priest who was assassinated on March 24, 1980. We visited the chapel he was assassinated in, the small apartment in which he lived (now a museum), and the Catedral Metropolitana de San Salvador where he is buried. We also visited a museum, Palacio Nacional that was once government offices and one of the unique churches I have ever visited - Iglesia El Rosario. After lunch we took to the highway and journeyed out into the countryside past volcanoes and fields. Our next stop was El Carman Estate and Mill - a coffee mill. This is the most amazing process. I will not spoil the experience for everyone, but to see how the bean goes from mountain plant to a brewed drink is a long process. We overnighted in Concepción de Ataco at Hotel Misión de Angeles, a wonderful boutique hotel with views of the mountain and coffee fields and we enjoyed our evening meal at Fleur De Lis Restaurante.
The next morning, after breakfast at the hotel, we toured the town viewing the beautiful murals painted on the walls and the grand church at the central square. We then spent the remainder of the day following the “Flower Route”, going from town to town admiring different markets with their crafts, churches with the unique colors and history, and wonderful people. Our last stop for the day was the Hot Springs of Santa Teresa. The hotel was comfortable with room spread out throughout the grounds and the hot springs very relaxing. Many pools are available to the guests. We enjoyed a simple meal at the hotel.
After breakfast at the hotel, we began our journey into the past with our first stop at Tazumal Archaeological Site. Tazumal is a ceremonial Maya complex. On our way to our next archaeological site, we made a brief stop at Lago de Coatepeque, a lake formed in the caldera of a volcano. We had an extensive tour of Joya de Caren Archaeological Site, a ~1500 year old village buried in the ash from a nearby volcano. We then made our way to the town of Suchitoto for lunch and overnight. We had a wonderful lunch at our hotel - La Posada de Suchitlán. We toured the town, visited the church, and did some shopping. For dinner we visited another hotel Los Almendros de San Lorenzo where we where treated to entertainment from Centro Arte para La Paz – 3 young ladies playing Celtic harps and a young man playing the alto saxophone.
After breakfast, we darted into the country side once again, this time to learn about Indigo. We had a very informative lesson on where the Indigo dye comes from, how it is made and how it is used. We spent most of the morning at this fantastic place. We returned to San Salvador for lunch near the summit of the El Boquerón volcano. We enjoyed another Salvadorian lunch at Las Brumas Restaurant. After our lunch we journeyed to the summit of the volcano’s crater where we could see deep down into the volcano. No worries, it has not erupted for almost 100 year.
Our final night in El Salvador was celebrated with a live music and dancing at Cardedeu, Coatepeque Lake. A most wonderful time with all my new friends!
More pictures can be found on Facebook. You do not need a Facebook account to view the pictures, just click on the link!
I am realy excited about this country. It is very beautiful, friendly and a lot to see and do. Some of the things I did not get to do: turtle sanctuary where you can release turtles into the wild, sugar cane fields, hike into a volcano, zip line, surfing, beach time, mangrove forest, cacao tour, spider monkey reserve and more culture!
If anyone is interested in this unique culture, please contact me for a great winter get-a-way (they even have an all-inclusive resort!).