El Salvador


Ambulance/Fire truck/Bus rally from CA to Honduras for charity

In 2011, 30-something-year-old Murray Johnson and some friends reached out to CouchSurfers to join them driving two donated ambulances down to Honduras to give them to Honduran hospitals. Johnson recently posted: “The experience was so amazing and the donation so needed that we have made the Charity Rally official and opened it up for others to join! You can mix travel, adventure and charity all in one for a good cause. How it works: You form your own team or join a “potluck” team. Your team can be comprised of any number of people. (I am guessing it is best if all of our team members fit in your vehicle though, of course.) Each team secures its own car/ambulance/fire truck/buse/whatever and drive down. The rally organizers work with you to get the vehicle, secure the donation and do the paperwork to have the vehicle imported into Honduras — or wherever […]


Hair like Brillo

Sometimes words can be be funny when you go between languages. I got a kick out of this hair conditioner which promises smooth hair (suave) but says with (con) brillo. In Spanish brillo means luster/sheen/shine. It is quite befitting as a hair product promise. But the United States Brillo is the brand/product name for a very course, tough steel wool scouring pad to clean baking dishes — the last thing you want your hair associated with.


City with a future

Anyone who attended SUNY Oswego with me will understand why I had to stop, smile, and take a photo of this poster as I walked down my street in San Salvador. It says: “San Salvador, una citudad con futuro” That is: “San Salvador, a city with a future” We who drove from lower New York State to our college in Oswego were very familiar with the sign that greeted us in the town before Oswego — Fulton, NY — and the wooden sign that said: “Fulton, city with a future.”


Eye glass repair in San Salvador & Panamá City!

At home in the USA, I have always been impressed that one eye glass shop will unbend our bent frame, adjust the fit, or even replace missing nose pad – when the glasses are from another shop. Now I have been extremely pleasantly surprised three times when my NYC-bought frames have been fitted and repaired like this, gratis, in both San Salvador and Panamá City. Twice, the lens of my semi-rimless frames has fallen out. This is not something I can pop back in. That is, I can fit it back into place but the plastic string that holds the lens in place no longer does its job and the lens will fall out again. So each time, with just a few words and a fast look at the situation, the plastic band has been fully replaced. Since someone is bound to ask, no, I don’t recall whether it is […]


Hostel recommendation in San Salvador, El Salvador

When I first arrived in San Salvador I stayed at a perfectly nice hostel that was recommended by Lonely Planet. It was nice and breakfast was free, but there was no kitchen, it was low season so it was pretty empty, and I didn’t feel connected to the staff. My local friend had heard a CouchSurfer had liked a hostel — Cumbres del Volcan — and as we found ourselves nearby, we checked it out. I am so glad we did! I loved staying at Cumbres del Volcan! There is no question that this is THE hostel for just about everyone to stay at. Regardless of your age, you will like this home-turned-hostel. Here are a few reasons why I like the location: It is in a terrific, upscale neighborhood — Escalon. There are low-cost Pupuserias right down the block. It is just a short block below the Plaza Futura, […]


Halloween candy sales in Central America?

I wonder if all the Halloween candy that doesn’t get sold goes on sale or half price like it does in the US. In El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras that would bring the prices down to what we normally pay in the states. In fact, a huge disappoint for me has been the lack of local brands. It is amazing to me that the cacao grows in these places but there is pretty much no candy bar manufacturing. Instead, the stores sell Hershey’s and Cadbury. In Guatemala there is a local brand, a candy bar the size and shape of the Hershey Bar, but it was more expensive than the Hershey Bar. Go figure. Well, I don’t know if they sell Halloween candy in Honduras and Guatemala, and I won’t be there to see what happens to the candy on the large Halloween displays that were up in San Salvador […]


Ended 3 months in El Salvador

I arrived in El Salvador — specifically San Salvador — on July 4th, with a plan to spend one week and two weekends there. By mid-week I had decided to stay another week. Then another… I didn’t leave until my already-extended CA4 visa was ending so I had to leave. I LOVED Cumbres de Volcan, the hostel in Escalon that my CouchSurfing friend had heard about. It easily became home.  It was easy to stay. The neighborhood I was in. It was perfectly safe to walk around in. To walk to beautiful supermarkets and malls, to go out to nice places, to walk all the way downtown… All fear of San Salvador was easily questioned by my Tica bus seat-mate as we arrived in the city. My fears somewhat melted away the first days but I remained diligent. No city is perfectly safe, but as with all cities, if you […]


Ice cream is a best value in El Salvador

LOVE ICE CREAM? I do, so I was happy to find this chain. They call it 2 x 1, which is two for one, but truth is, you can buy just one for half the price. A Banana Split was under $2.50 — but they didn’t give you enough whipped cream and sauces to make it really fun. So this double scoop (of large scoops) in a good waffle cone for just over $1 was my favorite.


Fabulous Fillet at Ruth’s Chris San Salvador

Tonight  my two friends and I weren’t terribly hungry but we wanted a good meal. My friend Frida hadn’t had the opportunity to try the newly-opened Ruth’s Chris San Salvador yet, so it was time. She welcomed me into her life so warmly and has done so much for me that I wanted to take her out before I have to move on (whenever that turns out to be). It’s late but the meal was so good that I have to write about it while the tastes are fresh on my tastebuds and in my memory. A perfect steak dinner at Ruth’s Chris San Salvador None of us were very hungry so it’s great that Ruth’s Chris gladly served French Style — cutting our thick, juicy, perfectly seasoned, sizzling steak by our table, serving a piece to each of us on our own very hot plate. There are several cuts of steak […]


My first El Salvador earthquakes

Last week there was a quake here in San Salvador. Ironically, I was sitting at the dining table at my guest house, working on a Mac there when the all-too familiar shaking started. Sitting at a Mac just like I was during most of the shakes I have felt in Los Angeles for the past many years. Seriously, over 5 months of not sitting at a Mac and here I was – same combo. So here I was relaxing and doing some casual work, when the ground shook. Not rocked. Shook. Sharper than what I felt most in LA. In LA I lived 2 floors up, too high to exit through a window, and always wondered if it was best to stay inside or go out. Here, I was in a single home, but up some stairs. And immediately outside are major electric wires. I wasn’t sure of the building […]


Ruth’s Chris El Salvador 1

On my second day in San Salvador, my friend took me to the World Trade Center and Torre Futura to enjoy the breeze, the views, and the ambiance. I noticed the familiar wording, “Ruth’s Chris” on a new looking building and was impressed that the steakhouse I know to be excellent fine dining in Beverly Hills and the West San Fernando Valley, was here in San Salvador. For all of the weeks I have been staying here, I have watched it. Yesterday I noticed people enjoying the patio so I tried the front doors — and staff was there. Starting Monday, August 20, 2012, the folks of San Salvador have a new fine dining option for a perfect steak or, as I am told, great seafood. [Update: as of July 2016 or before now, this location has closed.] Personally, I go there for the USDA, grass fed Prime steak — perfectly flame […]


Power outage in San Salvador

Last night’s rain and lightening storm brought more than the usual light storm beauty. Around 10pm it brought an extra loud pop and with it, darkness for some seconds, followed by another pop and some hours of darkness. I unplugged the house Mac, made sure any PCs here were unplugged. The owner opted to leave the wifi routers plugged in. (I also unplugged my TV and AC.) Around midnight the other women here and I went to bed. I wondered if the power would come on in the morning and If the routers would be back to normal. At 3:30am I had my answer when my roommate turned on the light. I am impressed with the electrical infrastructure here that withstands the rainy season so well.


A restaurant to skip in Juayua, El Salvador

A friend of mine who spent a week in Juayua El Salvador, just told me about a very disappointing $10 meal she had at R & R restaurant. It was recommended by Lonely Planet, but Lonely Planet once again missed the mark. Pehaps they are no longer updating their books or didn’t have a direct experience, or perhaps the restaurant has changed a lot. My friend relates this: She was the only person in the restaurant. The $10 for the mushroom chicken was a pretty steep price, a western price. Admittedly, she doesn’t speak Spanish, so that she struggled to order is understandable. She was very disappointed in the meal, but that was because she didn’t expect the very strong taste of an unexpected local herb. But the next day, buying shrimp at the town’s market, it turned out she was buying from R & R’s owner. The woman asked […]


Chinese food in San Salvador

My friends here like two Chinese restaurants in San Salvador, so I have been to both. This is a meal at 168 – Uno Seis Ocho, located right across from the World Trade Center, WTC and its plaza’s iconic Tower Futura. Each dish was $8.50. They will give you glasses of filtered bottled water upon request, or if you are into unnecessary plastic poisoning you can buy bottled water. I don’t believe bottled water is necessary in this fine restaurant. Oh! Pollo Frito Con Fresas – Strawberry Chicken! I love Orange Chicken and Lemon Chicken in the states, but this was my first time ever hearing of strawberry chicken. It is good! A new favorite. All of the food has been great here. I have been there twice and will return. The budget traveler or backpacker who seeks a treat might like to know they have $5.25 lunch plates too, […]


Batman movie at Gran Villa

I was invited by my local friend Frida to join her and a family seeing the new Batman movie at the Gran Villa, the nicest of the malls in San Salvador. In Los Angeles I would not have gone to see this film, but here there was no question of not going as I have not yet been to a movie in El Salvador. I loved this film. It started out with so much action that I was lost, and I was trying very hard to catch it all and remember it to tell Adrain as he was joining us. But after that first scene it got easier, and soon Adrian arrived. Good story, great mix of emotion and action and humor, great use of action. The theater was beautiful as well. It was very much like the one at The Grove in Los Angeles in every way. The only […]


American Independence Day

I spent July 4th, the celebratory day marking my country’s independence, traveling from Guatemala City to San Salvador. I tweeted that it was odd to be in a place where the 4th of July was just another day. I also rejoiced a bit on that day, happy to be lucky enough to have been born into a country where I have the freedom to travel so easily. I knew that there had likely been a July 4th celebration in San Salvador, for Americans who are stationed or working here. However, I would miss it as the 4th was my travel day. But I didn’t miss all of the celebrations! The following Saturday, thanks to Malcolm, the owner of Hostal Cumbre de Volcan, a fabulous hostel in San Salvador… I was surrounded by American flags, eating a hamburger, enjoying Club Salvadoreño Corinto on Ilopango Lake, socializing with the American Ambassador, Mari […]


Tica Bus from Guatemala City

Leaving my great friends in the Guatemala City area was hard. They were amazing. But it was time to move on. A new friend awaited in San Salvador. Pedro and Tere dropped me off at the Tica Bus station on their way to work. I spent several hours in that bus terminal before my bus. However, Tica maintains its own terminals (each with its own hostel next door) so it is safe and comfortable. It was fun to see the people come and go, most on a great adventure or to see family. I felt comfortable and safe on this trip. The staff in Guatemala City was impressive. (Added note: I wasn’t impressed with my next Tica trip starting anew in Salvador and had problems due to lack of information that passengers starting in Guatemala City were given.) The Tica bus terminal in Guatemala City: My lunch in the Tica […]