What little people have heard about El Salvador is usually that of a country plagued by civil war and crime. Ironically El Salvador has a lower crime rate than developed Costa Rica. The people are proud, friendly, and will always help you get where you want to go.
El Salvador is also one of the cheapest countries in Central America. Busses around the country generally won’t cost more than a few quarters. Delicious street food such as Papusas and sandwiches can be bought for around 1$. And, since they use the US dollar, it’s easy to calculate the exchange or keep track of your budget.
TIPS, TRICKS & TRAPS:
Here is some useful information …
PUBLIC / CHICKEN BUSSES – SEATING:
This is true of all Public Transport in Latin America …
Always stay as close to you bags as possible – and try never to let them out of your sight.
Sometimes, they will put your bag into the luggage compartment. Make sure that you keep an eye on that luggage compartment – sit on the side of the bus where you can see it being opened and closed.
Sometimes, someone will get into the luggage compartment and get into your bag. This is easier if it is a rucksack and much harder if it is a ‘locked suitcase with a theft proof double zip (I use the latter). Never leave anything valuable in your rucksack – take it on the bus with your. Preferably, take your rucksack onto the bus with you if you can.
If you are carrying luggage, always enter through the door at the back of the bus. Usually, there will be an area there for you to put your luggage. Stow you luggage there and find a seat where you can keep an eye on it. Prefer to stand next to your luggage and wait for a seat rather than lose sight of it.
PUBLIC / CHICKEN BUSSES – FOOD:
At every opportunity, hawkers jump onto the busses to sell you snacks and drinks. This means that you don’t have to worry when you jump on a bus and miss a meal. These hawkers can be on a bus selling their goods whilst the bus drives 2-3 kms down the road … they just get off and catch the next one going back in the opposite direction.
The usual price for a snack (e.g. 2x Potato Pasteles (potato filled deep fried patties) is 25c. A 700ml bottle of soda is usually US$1.
PUBLIC / CHICKEN BUSSES – TIME & DISTANCE:
These busses stop frequently. Expect to only cover about 30-35 kms per hour … what looks like a short 1 hour bus trip can take 3x as long as expected.
If the bus is driving a major highway, they try and pick up speed wherever they can … expect to cover as much as 5o kms / hour … but this is rare. Even if they do, don’t be surprised to stop for 20-30 minutes in a terminal in the middle of nowhere whilst the driver takes a break.
We recommend settling in and around the capital, specifically to either the Colonia San Benito or the Colonia Escalon. These are safe, cosmopolitan, and relatively quiet neighborhoods. The rents and prices are urban (figure US$500 to US$800 per month furnished), but the outer portions of the city, while cheaper, are grittier.
MY INITIAL THOUGHTS:
- Anywhere on the Pacific Coast
The internet has much less to say about El Salvador than it does all of the other Central American countries.
My plan is simply to use El Salvador as a “filler” between Honduras and Nicaragua.
I will follow the coastline north to south before I cross a small piece of Honduras on my way to Nicaragua.
The next stop in my journey will be Nicaragua.