I only spent a day and a night in El Salvador but it left some great impressions. The people there seemed to be happier and friendlier than other places, and I regularly got taken aback by the fare complexions and lighter eyes of some El Salvadorians. The country changed all of its bank reserves into US dollars in 2001, abandoning the domestic colon for a more stable currency. One would think this change would make things more expensive, but even 9 years later, the government has kept inflation down enough that it would almost seem things are getting cheaper. Costs of things were more often counted in cents than dollars, with bus fares being between $0.24 – $0.75 for a long distance bus ride, and I bought some of the cheapest icecream I’ve ever seen at $0.10 for a one scoop cone. Internet was about half a cent per minute, so when five minute of internet use were paid for with a nickel, you would receive 3 cents change. That definitely calls for an appropriate time to tip 100% I’d say.
We entered El Salvador at Frontera Anguiatu, and walked accross a very small bridge to start our bus journey to Santa Ana. We had a photo shoot there with our bus driver in his very pretty chicken bus, and carried onto Juayua, a very quaint, colonial town in the hills. The whole journey there and onwards was actually adorned with flowers all along the roadside, in full bloom boasting a rainbow of colours. My favourite natural wonder was our visit to Siete Cascadas, seven waterfalls just outside of town that you could walk between and swim in some. To get there you first had to take a three-wheel rickshaw along an unkept dirt road that I swore was going to tip the taxi onto its side with the 3 of us and bags crammed into the back of a very unbalanced, low-clearance, 2 horsepower engine vehicle. We made it there, for $1 a person, and hiked down the rocky path 7 minutes to the first swimming hole and enjoyed a refreshing dip in some of the cleanest water I’d seen yet. A local guy was scaling the moss covered, slippery cliff with his bare hands 10 m above the shallow waters and diving in, defying all laws of gravity and safety to pop back up and do it again, creating some thrilling entertainment for us all to watch in awe. I was happy with just dipping in and out, trying to make sure i didn’t accidently slip over the rock banks, but still got nervous trying to swim against the very strong current and trusting the man-made rock bank supporting the swimming hole.