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Trip report: Semana Santa beach vacation El Salvador

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Trip report: Semana Santa beach vacation El Salvador

Sorry this took so long to post. Spring break/Holy week trip March 23rd (Littlechum’s 5th trip and my husband Paul’s first.) Our kind friend Hector took a taxi to the airport ( sadly his car was stolen 2 weeks before our trip!) and met us so he could drive our rental through San Salvador. I’m not too scared about driving in El Salvador because I’ve done it before, but this was at night after a full day of travel and I just had a weird feeling about it. Hector taught me a lot that night about driving like a native and I was able to use this knowledge later to channel my inner Salvadoran and drive properly. Dinner with Hector and his Mom at mountain branch of La Pampa Argentina in Escalon (nice view, nice food) and overnight at the Marriot.

Next morning tried (and failed) to get an early start to Santa Ana to meet up with Juan L. and his family. Rental car was easy to drive, signage was pretty good. They are working on the highway and the delays were long. Also my i-phone GPS did not work, so had to just follow Juan’s general directions, which were good. Pizza Hut is his preferred meeting spot in Santa Ana. Had a nice visit at their house - homemade quesadilla (not the Mexican version,) which is a kind of coffeecake- never had it before- and an iced drink made of cashew flowers. Both yummy! Toured the new house they are building - the design is perfect for them.

Silvia L. had everyone packed and ready to head for the coast. First we stopped in Juayua for lunch, because it was Sunday and I had never attended the food festival. Had shrimp, and Paul had ribs. Watched the double-decker party bus try to navigate the crowded streets and at one point top deck patrons had to hand lift some power lines to avoid decapitation. It was one of those goofy Central American moments I wish I had on film. Juan wanted to hang out until the Atole de Elote ladies showed up, and all the L.’s and Paul enjoyed that. Thus we proceeded on to the Decameron. Hector gave us some “points” from his vacation club so it was only $342 for 4 nights for the 2 of us. The L.’s got some discounts too, so for Easter week pricing we were really pleased.

Good times at the Decameron. Hung out with the L. kids, went to the beach club for 1 day, played in the sea and liked being in the pool at night. I thought the buffet food was fine. Maybe it would be a bit monotonous for a week, but I thought they did a good job with it. I invented my own pasta sauces from the condiments they provided. Went to the show each night to be good vacationers. I hadn’t been there since they opened in 2005, but it is as nice as then or even improved – don’t quite see what the complainers are on about. Ok, maybe it’s not the Ritz but they aren’t trying to be. I had a great 4 days there!

The L.’s only stayed 2 nights, so for our next 2 days Paul and I just hung out by the pools, took a bike ride, went to the shows. We were really starting to get into the resort lifestyle. On Thursday we checked out and confused the staff when we told them we had our own car and did not need transport. We drove up to Los Naranjos to meet up with the L.’s again – they have a cabin up in the mountains. Somehow we were able to bypass Sonsonate and got there with only one tiny detour. Los Naranjos is beautiful! Juan says lots of people are trying to buy weekend homes there now. The cabin is a dream - I would love to live there. We went to Paso de Alaska for a drink, then on to Ataco for a little shopping. We were going to have lunch at Jardin de Celeste, which I love, but they were full, so we went to Santa Leticia instead. Nice ribs for us and chicha chicken for Silvia. Beautiful finca. I might consider staying there at some point.

After that we said goodbye to the L.’s and headed back to the coast. We drove through the 5 tunnels all the way to El Sunzal ( about 2.5 hours from Los Naranjos I guess) and checked into the Kayu. Paul was very impressed by the room and the view! After all this, it was almost dark, so we just had some nachos and drinks in the hotel restaurant. The nachos were fantastic. They don’t have satellite tv, so we watched a retro dvd we brought: Where The Boys Are. It’s spring break, for Pedro’s sake! Oh, and Paul is a college professor!

Next day we had the Kayu (very good) breakfast staring at that beautiful ocean and the surfers. Heavenly. We may have set a personal early bird record by swimming in the pool at 9:30am. Checked out and then did something that all my Salvadorans thought completely ridiculous: took a test drive to the airport in preparation for the next day. (Yeah we heard the comments: ooh ooh overly nervous gringos, jaja you guys are so funny!) I know, nuts, but I thought it would be dark when we left at 5:30 am and we might get lost. It probably wasn’t necessary in the end, (fyi, there is some light at 5:30) but was fine because we enjoyed the drive and a nice guy at the airport actually checked us in for tomorrow and upgraded our seats! On the way back, we stopped in La Libertad (found a great parking lot for $2 with a nice and conscientious guard) and wandered around the malecon and the pier. Very busy and crowded Friday of Holy Week. Excellent memories of that afternoon. Slice of life real El Salvador.

Back to El Sunzal and checked into Casa del Mar. They seemed to remember me. Umm, hope that’s a good thing! I love that hotel. (It was full the night before thus the Kayu -which was quite good too.) Strolled down the beach to El Tunco. Dude! Totally different vibe to other parts of El Salv. That surfer culture is foreign to me, but somehow fascinates. Had drinks and a snack, “fish bites” at Erika’s. Nice way to spend an afternoon. El Tunco was packed!

Lazed around Casa Del Mar , swam in the sea a bit in the twilight, (never seen the beach so crowded!) then had dinner at the hotel. Camarones empanizados are always good there.

Up early Saturday, easy drive to the airport, returned car (had to wait a bit, no drop box for keys.) Because we already checked in for our flights, all was very fast and easy. Bought 7 lbs of coffee for gifts. Everyone else brought back Pollo Campero, as usual. Impossible for us because of connecting flights, but wish we could!

Overall a really good introduction to El Salvador for Paul. He loved it and wants to return. Wish we had a few more days to see all of our friends, but we did pack a lot into 1 week. Next time I think I will arrive in daylight and crack that drive to the city.

Bend, Oregon
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1. Re: Trip report: Semana Santa beach vacation El Salvador

Thank you so much for your wonderful trip report.

Nassau, New...
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2. Re: Trip report: Semana Santa beach vacation El Salvador

Enjoyed your trip report (5 months later? haha) - liked the glimpses into El Salvador, and had some good laughs from your driving experiences, the power line lifting, pasta sauce mixing, and being early birds in the pool - sure beats a pool where you need to get there by 8am to save seats LOL

Thanks for posting!

3. Re: Trip report: Semana Santa beach vacation El Salvador

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