|The sunrise in El Salvador|
I didn't really know what to expect from El Salvador. It's one of those countries in Central America that people associate with violence and civil strife. But from the moment we stepped ashore here, we've been pleasantly surprised. So much so that we're talking about coming back for some land travel one of these days.
First of all, the locals are incredibly friendly. We must have been in Panama too long because Vlad and I were both taken aback when people said hello to us and smiled as we walked down the road. How strange, we thought. What an odd custom, this whole niceness thing. As it turns out, it's considered rude not to greet people here, which after grouchy Panama is such a refreshing concept.
Secondly, there are no gringos here except a handful of cruisers, and it's fabulous. We are in the coastal tourist area of Bahia del Sol, but the only tourists are El Salvadorians. Why is this so much better? I haven't quite figured that out yet, but it just is. People seem nicer. No one harasses us to buy anything. We are viewed as actual human beings rather than just walking dollar signs. Prices aren't just reasonable; they are downright cheap. I know, I know, we are Norte Americanos through and through, but it's been great to find a place that hasn't been developed all to hell.
Finally, the prices, as I mentioned before, are more like what we envisioned when we started this trip. Cheap transportation, thriving vegetable markets (I got a pound of delicious strawberries for a dollar!) and low-priced street food like pupusas are the order of the day in these parts. We even got breakfast the other morning for $3.00. Eggs, beans, thick corn tortillas, queso fresco, sausage and plantains. It just doesn't get better than that.
I wish we could stay in El Salvador longer, and had we known we certainly would have tried to arrive earlier. There's a ton of stuff to explore here - ruins, mountain towns, volcanos - and the spots we've seen look like a green West Texas - ranchitas with stunning mountains as a backdrop. That's why we are thinking of coming back, preferably before all the other tourists discover this place.