Gentlemen, the cure for the common tv show. The fifth season of Mad Men returns March 25th.
Thank you for showing interest in visiting my country!
jesus fucking christ. ok
So, the violence is concentrated mostly among the poorest sector of the population. This is because gangs- the maras- control poor neighborhoods. The maras charge people to “protect” the neighborhoods. This “protection fee” is called renta. So renta is generally charged in urban neighborhoods where the average family income is about 400 USD a month. When people fail to pay, they are sometimes killed. The same goes for vendors with kiosks on the side of the street, bus drivers (route protection fee), and public schools. It’s quite sad that when you watch our national news the victims are ALWAYS vendors with stands in the market, bus drivers, people in poor neighborhoods, and students from public schools. It’s worth noting that the victims are always involved with street gangs or drugs. Don’t hang out with thugs. Don’t buy drugs (obviously). If your boyfriend’s family lives in a risky area, I would advise against staying there for the whole of your visit. Ask your bf’s family about the violence in the area.
Violence against foreigners is very rare. The last foreigner to get murdered in El Salvador was a French filmmaker, making a documentary about STREET GANGS. Again, don’t hang out with thugs. Before him, I have no recollection of the murder of a foreigner.
Having said that the people in the countryside are very nice to foreigners. Salvadorans in the countryside are attentive and welcome tourists. Some might try to rip you off by selling you things at higher price, but I wouldn’t fret about 2 dollars. If you feel people are staring at you, it’s because you’re foreign, not because they mean harm. My instinct when I’m in an unknown place is to put on my charm and ask women for directions or for help.
I would strongly suggest you stay in the capital and from there make day trips to other parts of the country (from the capital, you access any part of the country in under 4 hours… and most of the tourist areas are no more than 1.5 hrs away). Stay at a nice hotel: the Hilton, the Sheraton, the Marriot in La Gran Via, The Crowne Plaza, or the Holiday Inn (these are all in West San Salvador, where all the shopping and nighlife is. It’s also safer, modern, well connected). Budget hotels are becoming a hang out for drug dealers and they’re becoming really sketchy. But if the costs of staying in a nice hotel are split between you and your bf, it should be cheap.
Avoid border towns- Mexico’s drug wars are pushing further and further into Central America, so border towns along Guatemala are full of drug-dealers.
In central El Salvador, Suchitoto is a nice, friendly, colonial town where you can walk around at night without feeling paranoid (stay at the San Lorenzo hotel there, it’s nice). If you’re up for it it would absolutely be worth it to go to Guatemala for a day or two (Panajachel, Guatemala City, Antigua). It’s a 3 hour car ride and 5 hour bus ride from San Salvador. If you’re in the north, in the highlands where there’s cool weather there are pine trees everywhere, go to the log cabins in El Pital. You can ride horses around the forest and eat great food. If you want to go to a beach, Costa del Sol and Salinitas are highly recommended.
El Salvador doesn’t have much to offer in comparison to other Central American countries, but you can enjoy it if you know where to hang out and if you plan beforehand. Tell your father that as a foreigner, you will be treated well, and that you are at a very, very low risk of being a victim of violence. The American Embassy in San Salvador is very attentive to Americans living in El Salvador.
Skim through this blog written by Americans who gave up their life in California to move to El Salvador w/ their 5 year old daughter. They have a lot of nice things to say about our country: http://www.whatsupelsalvador.com/background-story/
I typed too much. If you have any more questions, let me know *smiley face*
-Jorge Luis Borges vía In my eyes: Y uno aprende.