Back in July I visited El Salvador for the third time with my family. Although, this time was a different type of experience than the others. Let me explain: my mother is from El Salvador, so I still have family there. The first time I visited, I was 5 years old. I can remember bits and pieces, but it's a little foggy. The second time I went was when I was in my early twenties and we stayed at my family's home, which was always on-the-go, but a great experience. This last time though, we were at a boutique resort named Tortuga Village on the beach in Costa Del Sol where we had more of a relaxing setting.
I'll be honest: I get a bit nervous the days leading up to E.S. because of the bad rep they get, but once I arrive I feel relieved. We land in the El Salvador International airport where our resort is just a 30 minute drive to the coast. Tortuga Village, known for their turtle hatchery and conservation efforts, contained 8 eco-friendly bungalows with the room upstairs and a downstairs outdoor living area. There was no food on site, but there was a restaurant next door from which food was catered. We were a minute walk from the water and sand where the resort provided beach chairs, beds, bar, and spa area. The bungalows were situated around a pool in the center, half salt water, half fresh water where you had a views of the ocean right in front. They include breakfast every morning. The standard is fresh fruit juice, plantains, fresh cheese, bread, casamiento, and eggs with veggies. My only concern was plumbing in which the shower pressure was weak and took so long to change temperatures. Everything else was great, staff was friendly, and the price was right. We were there for there for 5 nights, 4 days.
Day One: Our flight arrived at around 6 am on a Friday. I was beat, so naturally I spent the first day at the beach and pool and took about 4 naps. The ocean current was strong and the water was warm. As I normally don't enjoy swimming in the ocean in California since the water is always cold, this water was definitely inviting.
Day Two: My aunt found this wonderful tour through EC Tours El Salvador. I don't usually enjoy tours, but this one was private (just my family) and I actually enjoyed the background information about this tiny little country. Here we learned about #DontSkipElSalvador, a clever hashtag to boost El Salvador's tourism. We visited 4 pueblos: Nahuizalco, Juayua, Apeneca, and Ataco. Each pueblo is known for their own unique characteristics: Nahuizalco for its indigenous people, Juayua for its food market and nearby waterfalls, Apeneca for its coffee plantations, and Ataco for its murals.
Day Three: Since we still had family in El Salvador, today we went to visit them. First stop was in San Salvador, where we quickly popped into a merchant market to find some of my favorite blankets that are made in San Sebastian. We then had lunch at a wonderful restaurant, Ne-Kal, which overlooked the beautiful Ilopango Lake. After lunch, it was dessert time at my Tia Paquita's home right next door to the restaurant with many other family members greeting us. Before returning to the resort, we swung by a park to eat some of the local food.
Day Four: We joined EC Tours again for another adventure to the volcanos at Cerro Verde National Park and Coatepeque Lake. Our view of the Izalco and Santa Ana (still active) volcanos were stunning. We had lunch at a lakeside restaurant and then hopped in a boat for a ride around the lake. Coatepeque is surrounded by volcanoes, but demonstrates amazing tranquility.
Day Five: After a long day the day before, nothing sounded better than a massage and being at the beach all day, so that's exactly what I did. I swam, relaxed, drank from fresh coconuts, and had a massage with a coffee scrub (it was amazing). We had one last dinner at the neighboring restaurant before we had to pack up and head back to the states.
I think I had enough pupusas, plantains, and casamiento to last me the rest of the year. The days went came and went, but I have such great memories of being with my family there and hope to go back in the future. I encourage you to visit as well as there are so many beautiful sites to see in El Salvador. #DontSkipElSalvador