We loved El Salvador, no doubt about it. It's hard not to love a country where the people are so charming, the history so astonishing, and the landscape so beguiling, and after our rather damp experiences in Guatemala and Mexico, we lapped it up.
The food is better, too. We loved papusas in the same way that we loved fry jacks in Belize, and like fry jacks, they're unique to just one country, astonishingly. We also drooled at the luscious produce in the supermarkets in places like Santa Ana and La Libertad, which were as well stocked and clean and bright as supermarkets back home. Food is an important part of the travelling experience, and after weeks and weeks of tortillas, beans, cheese and constipation, El Salvador provided sweet relief in more ways than one.
But the main thing we loved about El Salvador was the people. They are utterly delightful and their ready smiles make any language barrier irrelevant. Old women on the buses would take great delight in Peta's abilities with her backpack, which she can now don in the middle of a crowded chicken bus as it screeches round crazy corners and slams on the brakes. Adults and children would wave at us with genuine warmth as we walked through their villages, and even those people whose lives were carved out in the horror of civil war have gentle souls and an astonishing lack of bitterness. The soul of El Salvador is alive and well, and as long as it can handle the inevitable rise of tourism that you can see in the busier beach resorts, it feels as if the future is very bright.
I originally planned a couple of weeks here, expecting us to shoot through in ten days or so. In the end we spent just under three weeks and found it hard to leave. What a delightful country.