One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure.
Hola, Hello everyone!
Welcome to another edition of Reader’s Q & A.
It is always a pleasure for me to receive mail from my readers who live in the four corners of the globe and I heartily appreciate the constant support but mostly for their trust.
I recently received one that deserved more than a short reply, whether a tweet, social media update or just a quick message in return.
Since I am a writer, I had to respond and just be honest and as helpful as I can possibly be.
So let’s get right into it!
Here is the email I received
I found you while browsing the net on the safety of El Salvador. I’m hoping you can answer my questions as I’m very confused and don’t know who to ask for the truth.
I live in Ottawa, Canada and have been dating a native from El Salvador got the past 2 months. He bought us tickets to go visit and wants to show me El Zonte, De Cameron, el Tunco and Punta Roca. My sister is mad at me for going telling it’s too dangerous to go there.
What am I getting myself into? My boyfriend is an avid surfer so I’ll be spending a lot of time at the beach and staying at his grandmother’s home and possibly at Surf El Dorado. My boyfriend is more concerned about the culture shock more than anything.
I’m usually adventurous and love thrills but I have to admit this trip scares me a bit. Will I be looking constantly over my shoulder?
Should I carry the embassy phone number with me? If something happens to my boyfriend I am alone to fend for myself.
Thank you so much for any advice guidance you can provide.
Here’s my answer:
First of all, I wanted to say THANK YOU, Merci and gracias for taking the time to write me and it’s great to learn that you found me online!
Now I will be very straightforward and tell you what I truly think about this ok?
Congratulations on your relationship, even though it’s been only a short time, there’s no better way to get to know someone than traveling with them. As from personal experience, it will be a real test as a couple. It will bring you close or it will open your eyes and see different avenues.
Is it safe to travel to El Salvador?
Alright, now the situation in the central american country sure is dangerous as it is many places around the world BUT that is in specific areas. Well, I know a thing or two about El Salvador since I have been there quite often but it really is not as alarming as people say it is (well, last time I checked there were over 5 million inhabitants, so yes it’s doing more than ok).
I completely understand that family members care and worry about you and want you to travel safe but you can’t just go by what people tell you to do or not to do. (I lived not far from the DMZ in South Korea (the most heavily guarded border on the planet) and trust me in the 2 years I lived there, I sure didn’t lose sleep about my security).
I sure have driven my own sister up the wall every single time I’ve traveled since I was 15 years old (yes, I’ve been a rebel, adventurous soul and risk taker from an early age) and trust me, fast forward decades and 30+ countries later, it’s really not about to change any time soon. I do know that my actions have repercussions but again it’s my life and I am completely in charge and do not like to be told that I can’t do something that my heart wants to, like I said, I am a rebel!
Now of course I am not ignorant, reckless or delusional by any means. Yes, you have to be very careful everywhere you go and take necessary precautions but it’s not as if you’re going to go straight to a danger zone or a specific area where locals wouldn’t even dare to venture into!
The region where you’re going to, La Libertad (El Zonte, De Cameron, el Tunco and Punta Roca) is a major tourist destination and really safe. Quite frankly, even the capitalinos (people from the capital) and inhabitants of different parts of the country flock there whenever they get a chance!
It is located about an hour away (depending on traffic) from San Salvador and it’s pretty easy to get there thanks to a modern highway. As they say “La vida es más sabrosa en la playa” Life is better at the beach and you will clearly see why!
There are so many world-class hotels (De Cameron), Bed & Breakfasts, hostels, restaurants, surf schools and thriving seaside towns! Even a World Surf League Championship is held there, which draws some of the best surfers and media from around the world, so that is already a good sign right? If current champion Keely Andrew from Australia and 2nd place Alisa Quizon from Hawaii made it, why can’t you?
Salvadorans are humble, super friendly, hospitable and even gringos or güeros (blond hair, light eyes) live like locals there. I was even surprised that their Spanish accent (and surfing skills) beats mine, hands down.
You mention in your question that your novio or bf loves surfing, so he would be in his element. Would you be ok with spending a few days beach side? Not too difficult eh?
If surfing or soaking up natural Vitamin D and Vitamin Sea is not sufficient, you can do some or all of the following day trips:
Go back in time and travel to the Mayan World at the Ruins of Tazumal
Read more by checking the series about El Salvador https://travellersoul76.com/?s=el+salvador
or simply go to the neighboring towns along the Pacific Ocean in La Libertad and learn more about culture, lifestyle and learn something new (artesanias/handicrafts) or eat your way through at the malecón where you can indulge with fresh seafood and frozen cold drinks!
The whole idea is for you to get to know where your bf comes from and appreciate it even more.
Going away to a new place is not only a privilege, it is a gift.
You mention that you love adventures and thrills, and then this is the right trip to experience something new and create unique memories that will live in your mind and heart for the rest of your life.
Now forgive me when I say that having the embassy’s phone number at hand is kind of pushing it and a bit paranoiac to be honest.
The simple solution to all of your worries or concerns is to take travel insurance before leaving home. Trust me, paying a little extra for having peace of mind is PRICELESS!
You can include all the relevant info in the form the insurance company provides, include your sister as an emergency contact and then just make sure you leave a copy of your passport, list of the places where you’ll be and also a phone number where you can be reached at destination.
Other than that, JUST DO IT! Don’t let fear win.
Simply give the country and the people a chance to change your life. Just go and have a blast! You’ll probably come back and say to everyone “that was muy chivo, excellent!” 😉
The choice is very clear to me and as I prepare for my 7th visit, I have absolutely no fear that it will be even better than the past 6 times.
Life is a one-time show, there is no pause button. If you do not do it now, then when will you?
I’d rather live and collect unforgettable experiences and create phenomenal memories rather than watch the stuff pile up and collect dust. Life is now.
I hope this provided some insight and will help you make the right decision.
Whatever you decide to do, I sincerely wish you all the best.