Saturday, April 4, 2009

Things I have read

Being a web nerd, I have been reading and re-reading all types of information about El Salvador on the internet. I have also been reading information from my future coworkers, and briefly corresponding with a girl who will be working with me, and who had lived there for a while. Some of the things I have heard are conflicting opinions, as one might expect. But anyway, here is the list. It is not really in order, but I think all of these facts taken together paint a pretty good picture of our future home:

  • Surfing in El Salvador is considered some of the best! Besides surfing, there will also be amazing volcanoes to climb, parks to explore, and little villages to check out.
  • The country has over 20 volcanoes. Izalco, one of the most famous, was so active through the 1950s that its lava could be seen at night, and it was dubbed the "Lighthouse of the Pacific."
  • In parts of El Salvador, you can try things like picking coffee, making chocolate, dying indigo, etc.
  • Salvadorans like to party! They get very dressed up when they go out, and the clubs stay open until early morning. Since the clubs do not have age limits, I might very well run into my high-school students at the clubs from time to time.
  • The best clubs in San Salvador are Code in the Zona Rosa and Envy and Stanza in the Multi-plaza, which is a big mall with resturants and these clubs all on one floor. Envy even has a roof that opens up.
  • Like any big city, San Salvador has its unsafe parts. Soyopango is the area of gang activity, which travelers are advised to avoid, even during the day. Knowing that Geoff and I both stick out like sore thumbs in Central America, this may not be the best area for us to linger in. Otherwise, as long as we stay alert and do not show off by speaking English and wearing jewelry, we should be fine.
  • According to a Salvadoran co-worker of mine, there are quite a few international students in San Salvador.
  • The civil war ended in 1992, but it unofficially continued for a few years. Both sides (government and the guerrillas) went into schools to recruit or kill (dissenting) boys.
  • Temperature in San Salvador varies from 38 degrees to 19 degrees Celsius year round. In Fahrenheit, that is between a sweltering 100 degrees and a comfortable 66 degrees!
  • In the city of San Salvador, there are street names, but most Salvadorans do not even know what they are. Buildings and gates are rarely numbered, so looking for a place by its address is tough.
  • Even though the roads of San Salvador are not very pedestrian-friendly, people still walk regularly to get around, sometimes alongside cars.
  • Security in El Salvador is less "high-tech" and more visible than security measures in the States. For example, instead of having security cameras near an ATM, you may very well see an armed guard standing next to the machine.
  • Even though "armed guards" can be commonly seen at gas stations and various public places, I have read that, oftentimes, the guards are merely old people holding empty guns. They pose no real threat, but are mostly a formality to provide a sense of security for the everyday Salvadoran.
  • The recent election of a leftist president ended two decades of conservative rule. Mauricio Funes is to take office in June 2009, and has stated improving relations with Central American countries and with the U.S. as his focus of foreign policy.
  • Minor earthquakes are pretty common down there. The last big one happened back in 2001, claiming more than 800 lives. Besides earthquakes, the country's location also makes it susceptible to severe rainstorms and droughts. The last major drought in 2005 had wiped out 80% of the country's crops.
  • English movies are available in San Salvador, with Spanish subtitles. The theaters charge between $2.75 and $3 per person -- a price I have not heard of since the 90s!
  • Most used cars available are wrecked cars from the States, with at least one airbag missing. Non-wrecked cars can cost a good amount of money. Even busses that run in El Salvador are often old school busses from the U.S. that were revamped to serve as public transit down there. They cost less than $1 to ride.
  • Maids are available pretty cheaply, and it is almost expected that American teachers hire these local ladies at least a couple of days a week to do laundry and to clean. It is seen not as a showy gesture, but rather, a way of contributing to the local community in offering stable employment. Getting a maid to come for a full day costs a little more than $10.
  • You can get a nice two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in a nice area of San Salvador, for somewhere between $800 and $900. --To put this in perspective, that is less than Geoff and I individually pay right now in NYC, to live in shared apartments!
  • Things that will be very expensive down there include contact lens supplies and computers. Asian cooking supplies should be pretty accessible.
  • One notable Salvadoran dish is the pupusa. I recently tried it in the Bronx, and it was yum! :)

Whew! That's it. Information keeps trickling in, slowly. This is all I know, for now. Hasta luego! :)

1 comment:

  1. Can't wait to hear more about your adventures!