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Posted by caguide  Feb 17 2005, 07:13 PM    (View all contributions by caguide)
One Man's Love Affair Between El Salvador and Guatemala

Originally I come from the U.S. but I have lived in Latin America since the mid-1980's. I first visited El Salvador in the late 1960's and fell in love with the Salvadorian coastal town, Puerto de La Libertad, because it reminded me of my birthplace, the coastal resort town of Bar Harbor, Maine. I am also completely enamored with La Antigua, Guatemala, the restored colonial Capital City of Central America, because it reminds me of the town where I was raised - Colonial Williamsburg. I should have known even then, that I was destined to return.

I attended University in Boston and New York but found the academic world and the turbulence surrounding it on the late 1960's didn't suit my fancy, so I began an odyssey of working and traveling abroad in the 70's. I visited both Europe and Latin America, which broadened my perspective and my linguistic skills as I learned to be conversational in German, Spanish, Portuguese and Polish. I’ve put my language skills to work translating and localizing websites based in Latin America with a company called the 'Polygolots'.

After a long absence in Latin America, I returned to Guatemala from the United States in 1986. Eight years later, the Peace Treaty that eliminated Civil Conflict was signed in El Salvador. This restored tranquility to the land making it, once again, an attractive place to live. Motivated by family ties and the memory of its scenic beauty, I moved to El Salvador.

I worked as Tour Guide, Travel Writer and Trade and Travel Consultant throughout Central America, much of it in the "Pre-Internet" era. And while there seems to be no lack of modern amenities here I still love the "other side" of Central America. The side dappled with colonial villages, where time has stood still and oxcarts still ply narrow roads. Uncrowded and exotic hidden coves, beaches, bays and mangroves lay in wait to overwhelm you with their beauty. Coconut and coffee plantations color the country side with their abundance. And Mayan ruins are scattered carelessly by histories hand, including Joya de Ceren in El Salvador, which is the "Pompeii of the Americas." A typical Mayan Village buried beneath Volcanic Ash for 1400 years; the only site of kind in the Americas. The Copan Ruins in neighboring Honduras is considered the 'Jewel of the Mayan World'. These are a few of my favorite places...

Towns and villages dedicated to the elaboration of arts and crafts are spread all over the Central American Isthmus. I know of towns located less than a couple hours drive from San Salvador's bustling boulevards where horses and oxcarts often outnumber vehicles! And for adventurers there are Volcanoes, Volcanoes and more Volcanoes. With the exception of Honduras, you will be able to spy their cones in every Central American country and a few are still active!

Many tourists come to El Salvador hoping to add to their list of sites to see "their idea" of indigenous people, i.e. "Indians." Instead they find that the population is made up of "mestizos" or mixed-race people. I was once hired to drive a woman from El Salvador to Guatemala. She wanted me to drive down San Salvador's Boulevard de los Heroes which is known for its hustle and bustle and always filled with Salvadorians so that she could take in the sites, so to speak. As we drove, I noticed that she was becoming more and more agitate. When I gave her a questioning look she shouted in desperation "But where are the Indians?!?" I merely answered "Be patient and I'll take you to them tomorrow out in Panchimalco."
Patience was obviously not this woman's strong suite because she proceeded to borrow my guidebook, and I later found out that she took off to Costa Rica that afternoon on her own, taking my trusted guidebook with her. Which of course, I never saw finally, with a sense of humor; a lesson in life: "Take it or leave it, but never lend it!"

About the Author

Donald Lee, a US Citizen and Ex Pat resident in Central America since 1986 is a Trade and Travel Consultant for all things Latin American. For questions or tour information feel free to E mail him at At present Donald is developing another travel site specializing in Latin Travel and requires your feedback if you have been there or returning again. If you are a first time traveler to the region do not hesitate to ask Donald a question - Business or Pleasure Travel, or if planning to invest in small business, teach, volunteer or simply retire.

View photos on my bloq:

El Salvador Travel Information Bloq:

"El Salvador an Exotic Destination Revealed"