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:
Hike at El Boquerón National Park
Watch skilled artisans at work in San Sebastián
Visit La Ciudad Morena, Santa Ana
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.
6 thoughts on “Reader’s Q & A: Should I Travel To El Salvador”
If Manon is not convinced after such a show of beautiful places and great stuff to do in Salvador, I don’t know what will convince her! I only travelled through the country by bus 7 years ago, on my way to Costa Rica and I have never had the opportunity to go back and visit the country for real.
With your post, I’m almost already packing up my gear and on my way (oh wait, my husband might not be happy finding me gone on another adventure without him!)! So I guess everyone will also feel the pull by reading this post.
Enjoy your 7th visit and tell us more about Salvador. Who knows, it might get higher on our list… Especially when living in Mexico allows us to get there fairly easily! 😉
Can you only imagine my face when I read this, I mean seriously, there’s no time to waste in this life and if you don’t go out there, feel the fear and do it anyway, then you might as well stay home and count the snow flakes…or make snow angels…no disreperct but I rather live a full life and take calculated risks and not let anyone scare me, like Donald Duck who said that the world is a disaster and only HE can fix it.
I sincerely don’t think El Salvador is such a bad place, if it did then a national airline (Air Transat) wouldn’t be flying to San Salvador for at least the winter months and you wouldn’t have Canadians raving about the fun they had in the country!
The vast majority of travelers who make it to Central America often skip it, for all that negative media coverage and it’s just a shame because it’s no better in Guatemala or neighboring in Honduras…
Too bad you missed it when you went to Tiquicia, you’d love it too.
When I took my parents (imagine, me their youngest kid) on 10 road trips to places they had never been in their youth (see I truly am a rebel and bad bad kid), the impression or look on their faces (especially at El Boqueron where I made them hike for about 1 hr but then bought them lunch and fresh organic coffee+dessert at a local restaurant) was absolutely priceless.
All I could say was: “Father thank you for sending me blessings and for always having my back in my many (mis)adventures and for allowing me to take my family along on my journeys”.
You really can’t see, live or experience such beauties or unforgettable moments on your own, you really need company and yes take your hubby with you, you’ll create amazing memories which will make you smile even years later!
Oh if I told you all the crazy things I want to do during my 7th trip: zip lining over La Puerta Del Diablo, which is like one of the highest mountains near San Salvador, Surfing at Barra de Santiago (I still need to practice!), finally make it to Joyas de Ceren which was designated an UNESCO world heritage site, go to Costa Del Sol (Beach route) and oh I am forgetting sailing around Golfo de Fonseca which looks amazing.
As if my bucket list wasn’t enough, I have to make it to Ruinas de Copan in Honduras because I am beyond obsessed with anything that has to do with Mayan culture.
How crazy cool does that sound? To that effect I need to work 10x and save 20x but it’s going to be another trip worth every single sacrifice.
If I make it, I am sure you will too 🙂
Oh oh this just turned into a post, oh well the writer in me is in operation.
Tell me more about living in Mexico, are you there now or you will?
Thank you, merci, gracias for stopping by and happy holidays 🙂
ahahaha when passion takes over! 😉 That time when I just passed through Salvador was only because I was running short on time before meetint up with a friend in Tica land; while on the bus (which had a flat tire in the middle of nowhere, btw), I met this most amazing and friendly local girl with whom I’m still in contact today, 7 years later, after only spending a couple of hours by the side of the road and in the bus! 😉 I’d love to visit Salvador!
And with your enthusiasm and all the beautiful things you write about it, I want to visit even more!
I’ve been living on and off in Mexico since 2012, in between trips back to France or travelling South America with hubby or working in France or walking El Camino in Spain last September…
Next project: opening a bar on the beach on our favorite island near Cancun, at a friend’s restaurant and live the beach life for 6 months. 😉
Happy holidays and happy travelling to you too, always!
I have to be your guide then 🙂
Yes, you’re right about being a passionate writer, I have to hold myself back cause otherwise I’d write chapters as blog posts and you know that attention span here is like the blink of an eye verdad? 🙂
That’s awesome that you made a good friend in those circumstances.
Trust me the first times I went I was so young and since I am anti-social, people would just come up to me and start up conversations.
I’ve never been afraid to eat by myself or travel on chicken buses with my backpack…that was in preparation of Asia ha ha God it was fun!
My cousins keep bugging me and ask me when we’ll go out to party in San Salvador or a beach town resort…didn’t I just say I am a bad influence? 🙂
I also forgot to say that I need to stay at a mountain side resort (Chalatenango), that is a remarkable place and so is Lago de Coatepeque (that is an old volcano crater) and there are now even luxury hotels there! Something great is happening I tell ya!
Oh you are going to be in Cancun? Invitame pues! Life is good there too 😉
Ok must go but will continue this chat at some point!
Gracias y buenas noches. Will catch up with you blog manana.
Won’t be in Cancun but nearby (Cancun doesn’t count as Mexico for us, we just go there for the airport or the ferries to the islands).
We’ll be living on the beach in our hammocks or at our friend’s (so can’t really invite others over) but you’re welcome to join! I know great places to stay at on the island and you just enjoy the beachin’ life!
Enjoy the day!
wow. this is such a thoughtful response to an inquiring traveler! you definitely prepared her for what could be a trip of a lifetime for her!