Brief but beyond expectations, El Salvador is a fantastic country well worth a stop. We only visited San Salvador and Santa Ana but in both cities we found immensely warm hearted people full of fun and smiles.
We had previously been nervous about this most notoriously dangerous Central American country. Police figures from 2015 reported 6,657 murders that's 0.1% of the country's population murdered last year.
Luckily the danger, if it is there, came nowhere near us and from what we heard rarely crosses outside the gangs, so for the likes of us (a family of four from England) we felt very safe. We met some great Salvadorans who were amazingly hospitable and made our brief time in the country both memorable and enjoyable, particular thanks to Mario for befriending us on the bus between the cities.
Another major plus point was the amazing hostel in Santa Ana, Casa Verde. Now for many of you, picturing a hostel especially one in El Salvador probably conjures up some grim images but put that trainspotting toilet scene out of your mind and instead picture this: a private room, immaculate white walls, with twenty foot high ceilings and one wall of exposed brick and enormous double wooden doors, flat screen TV a hot waterfall shower, even USB plugs in the walls. Then add to this two immaculate guest kitchens complete with coffee grinders (and free coffee beans), fruit juicers, food mixers, sandwich toasters, rice cookers, and a heap of other equipment I don't even recognise what to use it for but it looks useful! Also shove in a separate TV room with surround sound, a foot massage machine and more DVDs than you could watch in a year. Not to mention the rooftop terrace with 360° views of the surrounding hills, and the swimming pool! and you may start to get the idea of just how great this place was.
We spent five days at Casa Verde and mostly hung out around the pool or at the shops, or in the playpark. Although we did make it to the Mayan ruins of Tazumal with our new friend Mario, a language teacher. Plus we had a great day at the Galicia waterpark which the lovely Carlos who owns Casa Verde gave us a lift to. On first impressions we were disappointed with Galicia, as the five large water slides were not running and there was only a leisure pool and a small children's slide open with no fountains running. However after an hour or so of playing at diving for dollars in the leisure pool, watching the fierce competition between the Salvadoran kids (and Jess & Otto) someone turned the water on!
The water buckets and fountains in the kids slide pool and the largest of the big slides opened up. Mikes and I took on the vertical speed slide (yes I screamed a little) and Mikes and Jess took on the mammoth bowl. It's a dark enclosed tube slide that opens into a bowl type funnel at the bottom where you spin a few circles before dropping through the chute a few feet down into a deep pool. Jess went down sitting on Mikey’s knee and about 40 people all raced over to gather around the chute to watch their exit. A lifeguard poised in a half dive position, plunged in to assist just as they spurted out the chute and the crowd erupted into applause! Just another anonymous day for Jessica Newitt.
As always we slightly overstayed our time here (3 nights turned into 8) so we press on for Antigua, Guatemala.
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Kelly and Mikey (but mostly Kelly). We sold up in the UK to travel with our two littluns for a year or so. If you want to know more click the about us!