We caught a bus to San Salvador at the very early time of 4.30am. On this route we left Nicaragua, entered and exited Honduras and entered El Salvador. We were only going to spend one night in San Salvador and then move on to Ruta de Flores.
The borders for Honduras were pretty lax with none of our bags being searched and no questions asked. They did fingerprint us which was quite disconcerting.
The bus pretty much drove straight through the El Salvador border and we quickly told the conductor that we needed a stamp for our passports as we were the only Gringos on the bus. He assured us that El Salvador didn’t require a stamp which we then told him that was pretty surprising as every other county in the world required stamps. Needless to say the bus didn’t stop and we don’t have a stamp. We were stopped for a passport check soon after and they didn’t bat an eyelid so it must be okay.
First impressions of San Salvador was that is was a concrete jungle full of chain restaurants and shops. The other major difference was that there were security guards with big guns in most places. For example the icecream shop and a house just down the road from us that was being renovated. The scary thing is that some of them have no uniform just a giant shotgun. Anyway the area we were staying at was safe so we went for a wonder for dinner and came back to the hostel for an early night.
The next day, before we caught a bus north we decided to catch a taxi into the centre to see a few sights. The centre of San Salvador is pretty gritty. The people all looked pretty poor and most of the buildings were old and run down. It was the first place we have been to seeing major sights and not coming across another tourist. The stares we were getting, though friendly where numerous.
The highlight of the centre and certainly worth the trip was Inglesia El Rosario. From the outside it looked like a big concrete squatters’ home. But inside it was breathtaking! The building was an arch shape built of brick and the arch itself was covered in tiny stain glass widows. The inside was decorated with metal and stone abstract statues portraying Christ’s crucifixion. I must admit the whole building was truly amazing and up there as one of my favorite churches.
I wouldn’t have wanted to spend any more than a day in San Salvador. The people were really lovely and I commented to Tim that it was the first place that they actually said hello to you first, rather than the other way around. But it really didn’t feel great and apparently it is the 3rd most dangerous city in the world. They have a huge gang problem that they are struggling to control. It really hit home when we were in the taxi on the way back to the hostel and the taxi had old newspapers in the back, I started picking them up and every single one had a picture of dead bodies on the front. There were over seven papers. Again makes us realize how lucky we are.
We then left San Salvador for Juayua on the Ruta de las Flores. A sleepy little town that produces coffee and apparently has some amazing waterfalls and lakes. But their main attraction (especially for us) is their renowned once a week food market which just so happens to be tomorrow. Yes! S
Downtown San Salvador, actually quite beautiful in a gritty way.
The outside of the Iglesia El Rosario, not exactly breathtaking!!
One side of the arch was just brick but the other had coloured glass embedded through the wall and the effect was excellent.
The sculptures in the church were very modern and great to see something new in a church.
The national theatre complete with chicken buses outside.
Armed guards in the city centre.