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Trevor’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 22 Mar 2006

Location: San Salvador, El Salvador

MapSince my last upate, I decided to take an easy (ie flat) route from Antigua, Guatemala to San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador. So headed down to the coastal plain and then Eastwards. I covered 270 kms in 3 days. The coastal strip is hotter and humid .... similar to Brisbane's summer weather.

I crossed the border into El Salvador and nothing much changed except the currency went from Quetzales to US dollars. Yes, dollars. El Salvador changed its currency 5 years ago, along with 2 other Latin American countries. This country is one of the poorest in Latin America. After spoiling myself in Sonsonate at the Hotel Agape (see http://www.agape.com.sv/english/hotelagape.htm) for a night at US$15.66, plus a beautiful meal in its restaurant for $20, I continued to the capital, San Salvador.

The people where I'm studying Spanish are really friendly. As are the people of El Salvador generally. I've been taking part in their cultural programme in the afternoons too, learning about the Salvadoran culture. The home stay is also good.

But the city doesn't suit me and I'm looking forward to moving on to the small town of Estanzuelas to teach English.

Things here are tough. We're told to stay off the streets after dark, unless travelling by taxi. The buses stop running at 8pm and are targets for armed thieves. Rubbish is strewn all over the place...not just individual items of litter but piles of the stuff. There's much more private car ownership than I expected and the roads are choked with cars, buses and trucks. The buses are very cheap (20 cents to anywhere) and consequently badly maintained , belching out clouds of black smoke. All houses are behind bars and barbed wire.

The 10 year civil war finished in 1991. While the peace accords delivered legalised political parties which can oppose the ruling elite, I'm told the bulk of the people are no better off economically. The rich elite rule with economics instead of guns now. Aided and abetted by the USA who want a Central American 'Free Trade Agreement'. For example, we visited a clothes factory where the people earn US$5.14 for an 8 hour day. Yet it costs $1.50 for a milk shake and 85 cents for a beer from a local store. It was $5 to get into a bar / nightclub. Guess who doesn't go to such night clubs.

This weekend I'm planning to go to Santa Ana, a small city west of the capital where it's cooler and quieter.....