Oh my goodness, KarenWeber--you make ES sound like it is hell on earth! You have every right to your opinion but the post is a huge misrepresentation of this country. I'm sorry if you had a bad experience here but one bad experience does not label a country.
ES is no different than Canada, US, Caribbean, Europe, Asia, etc etc etc. Without a doubt there are always areas to avoid in any city/ country in the world & each destination has its societal problems. For heaven's sake, you are labeling Salvadorans as criminals because they are not materialistic & prefer a simple healthy lifestyle. Of course there are people of lesser means here but that does not make the people of this incredible country dangerous! Travel any where in the world should be done with common sense & smarts--living any where in the world should be done the same!
Deeeee, you are not in any jeopardy by coming to ES & you will have an unforgettable time. You are in the best hands with your friend's father who certainly knows areas to avoid & you are surrounded by Spanish speakers. The negative post above is very closed-minded & shows ignorance regarding the people of El Salvador. Salvadorans are very warm, gentle, friendly people who love to share their country with visitors! They can be shy by nature but are full of kindness & generosity. When approached with a warm smile & a friendly greeting, they will happily engage in a very pleasant conversation! Salvadorans are very thoughtful people who are anxious to help & do so with respect to others. You do not have to worry about being tailed or stalked by gang members nor do you have to look over your shoulder. Relax, savour, enjoy your time in this beautiful country & you will take home wonderful memories. Of course, you should dress modestly & leave your jewellery at home....that's the golden rule of any travel destination. As Canadians, we have never been treated with such genuine warmth & hospitality as we have here. We eat, sleep, live in this beautiful culture & do so with peace & security. We are smart enough not to put ourselves in a bad situation or area & we know to respect those around us & be humble. I'm very upset at this attack on the people of El Salvador & I hope you will look past the blatant slander.
You will see security guards at many stores, businesses, banks, restaurants, etc because it is part of Central American culture. It is not only an effective deterrent against criminal intentions but also employment for Salvadorans. Please look at it as such & not as a sign of "danger". Canadian banks, businesses, etc used to have "real" people doing security jobs until they were replaced with security cameras which are helpful "after" the crime has been committed. Perhaps if we had more physical presence today, there wouldn't be as much "grab & run" crime. You will also see an obvious presence of Salvadoran civil police walking the streets & interacting with people as well as military police. As for gang members.....what does a gang member look like??? It is a ridiculous statement to tell you to familiarize yourself with their appearance. Gang activity here is no different than anywhere else. Their interest is a very complex hidden web of international drug involvement, etc & not targeting visitors! They have their way of doing things & prefer to keep out of sight by moving in their own circles.
You need to know that El Salvador is working very hard to open the eyes of the world to everything it has to offer & it is succeeding! Tourism is on the rise & new opportunities are coming to travellers & Salvadorans! JAcosta is right.....you will have a great time....better than great! :D I will always advocate strongly & determinedly for this country that we are proud to be part of! We came to El Salvador for many special reasons....the people being the most special reason of all!!
Anticipate your trip with excitement, Deeee, & you will soon see for yourself! Listen to what your friend tells you because she's absolutely right!
Cheers & happy travels! .......Cathy :D