When I first visited El Salvador in 1996, this beleaguered Central American nation was still numb from its long and brutal civil war that had ended only four years earlier. There was very little in the way of tourism infrastructure, and I bumped into few fellow travelers.
However, on a return visit in October 2008, I found that much had changed. The capital city, San Salvador, while as chaotic as I remember it to be, seemed much more upbeat. New restaurants, museums and art galleries had opened; historic buildings in the city center had been spruced up; and there were noticeably more foreign visitors.
As I ventured beyond the city, I saw the familiar signs of poverty, but I also rediscovered some of what I had first liked about this welcoming country: rolling green countryside, misty volcanoes, slumbering Spanish colonial towns, and shy barefoot children playing by the side of the road. These sights also reinforced my original impression that for anyone looking for an authentic travel experience without all the trappings of mass tourism, El Salvador is an ideal place to explore.
For more information, visit El Salvador's Ministry of Tourism website. You can also click on the two links below to read a newspaper travel article that I wrote about San Salvador.
San Salvador Page 1
San Salvador Page 2
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El Salvador - Images by John Mitchell