Thursday, July 2, 2009

Pennies, Nickles & Dimes, Oh My!

What does US currency have to do with our weekend vacay in El Salvador? We had to use it – that’s what! After months of spending Monopoly money in Mexico and Guatemala, our dollars were long gone, so you can imagine how strange it was exchange our hard earned quetzales for expensive dollars! In fact, we would have never guessed that a lot of things in El Salvador would practically cost the same as they do at home (seriously). Even though we didn’t see any, we sure do miss their old colones!

While the smallest country in Central America is not highly know for tourism, El Salvador is popular for a few other reasons – surf, shop, and scrumptious pupusas!

After doing the border crossing song and dance for about a hour and half (way long than either of our crossings into Mexico or Guatemala) we made our way to the beach – Playa Tunco – where we stumbled into a campground of sorts. It was a far cry from some of Mexico’s fab RV parks, but sufficient enough for a night – especially considering we arrived well after dark. Besides we had been looking for a reason to pop the top on Dewey for quite some time, so that made all 3 of us least until this guy decided to pull up right next to us.

Obviously he doesn't understand campground etiquette.

Without plans to surf, we soon grew bored at the beach (there was pretty much nothing else there) and headed inland to San Salvador to meet up with our friend Dani (a native of El Salvador) and her BF, Dan. (Isn’t it the cutest that they’re names are Dan & Dani?) We did however make a day long detour to Suchitoto, a quaint colonial town outside of the capitol. We stumbled onto this hotel (El Tejado) and made ourselves at home, poolside for a day.

Ben relaxed in the hammock...

and I practiced my photography skills.

Back at the main square in Suchitoto, we dined on delicious pupusas -the traditional dish of El Salvador. They’re basically thick tortillas stuffed with all things yummy (like beans and cheese) and topped with cabbage. We’ve tried them before in Guate, but they don’t even compare to the real deal.

Later on we visited Embalse Cerrón Grande, the reservoir that Suchitoto overlooks.

Ben got his money out of a $5 zipline ride

...while I filled up on some more yummy treats.
Check out the size of this chocobanano – frozen banana, dipped in melted chocolate, coated with peanuts on 1 side and crushed oreos on the other – Pure Heaven!

When we finally left Suchitoto and headed for San Salvador we were pleasantly surprised. A small city, San Salvador was everything that we had been told it wasn’t. Much cleaner and safer feeling that Guatemala City, we had previously been told it was one of the most dangerous cities in Central America. Surprisingly though, we found it to be quite nice. We spent most of our time indulging in a favorite past-time that involves the dollar – shopping. With American-like malls around each round about, I think we may have visited them all - more than once. Not just for shopping though – it seems that all the popular restaurants are located in or around the malls too. I did make sure though to stop in my new favorite fashion store, Zara – twice!

All in all we had a pretty great time. We definitely spent more time in the car than we had planned, but certainly saw a good part of the country too. There will most definitely be a return trip to El Salvador in our future (near future as we can extend the permission for our car at the border in 30 days) and next time we’re going to try a little harder to relax at the beach!

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