Category Archives: El Salvador

South of the Americas

DSC01657To close out the year, I decided on a trip to Colombia. My flight however stops over in San Salvador, El Salvador for 12hours on my way to and from Colombia. What to do with 12 hours layover in San Salvador? Well, I took a taxi to a hostel to nap in a real bed, met up with a couchsufer and went to El Boqueron National Park. The trail is beautiful, I got to see a volcano (first time ever). We later went to a restaurant on our way from the national park. The restaurant is great in that you can see the view of San Salvador. I love it! And the food was great too!

Initially, I wasn’t too happy with the layover in El Salvador. It was one of those countries I vowed never to return. I had a s****y experience way back in 2010. However, I’m now glad I had the opportunity to have a positive experience.DSC01528 - Copy

Now, I am in Colombia. I haven’t visited since August 2012 so it was about time. I decided to visit Cartagena (my first time since 2009). I stayed in Marbella area – directly in front of the beach and about 15mins walk to the walled city. It was my first time using Airbnb and I was pretty impressed. I met up with a guy from my contact who happens to be tour guide. He took me to his hood – they say it is the most dangerous part of Cartagena. Evidence to that, as we arrive, the police were breaking up a fight with tear gas. Anyways, I met his beautiful family and enjoyed great conversation with them. The next day, I met up with him at his organization. He has an organization that teaches children English and mentor them. You should check out the Alex Rocha Youth Center. I saw him nurture the creative side of the kids.
DSC01502 - CopyI visited Palenke de San Basilio – about 1.5hour from Cartagena. The people of Palenke are descendants of enslaved African that escaped to freedom. The colonial government couldn’t fight the people of Palenke so a treaty was signed. Overall, I had a great time in Cartagena that made me wonder why it took me so long to return. I also met up with a couchsurfer for drinks.

Currently, I’m in Bogota. I never loved Bogota until I came for an internship in 2011. But as soon as I left the airport, I question why I am here. It was cold! The thing about the cold in Bogota is that the building do not have a heating system so you are cold indoors as well. The faucet is just cold water so your hands are freezing when brushing your teeth or washing dishes #1stworldproblems. Anyways, I used Airbnb again and I was once again impressed. For USD$19/night, I got a studio to myself with everything I need! What more can a girl ask for? The place is also close to a transmileno station (subway transport).DSC01652

I met up with my BFF Christmas Eve. I don’t celebrate Christmas but she insisted on making a tradition Colombian feast. Plus, I got to see her two months old twins :).

It has been great meeting up with friends here in Bogota. But, Note to self: no need to spend 5 days in Bogota when there are warm places in Colombia to be such as Cali, San Andres or Cartagena.

I’m off on yet another adventure. Spending NYE and New Year in another South American country. Details of this trip coming soon :).

DSC01590Grateful for 2014, I had the opportunity to start 2014 in Ivory Coast and visited Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Republic of Benin, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Cuba, El Salvador and Colombia. Although, 2014 had mostly been visiting countries I have been before (except Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso & Jamaica). It was truly an honor to connect again.

I’m looking forward to 2015. Memorable trips are being planned :).

Until next time…..

Happy New Year. Wishing you all the fabulous things the universe is offering………

And thank you for reading my blog 🙂 :).

 

 

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Budget: Money Talk – Colombia 2009

Below is how money was spent for my 10 months trip across Latin America (Aug 2009 to June 2010). Colombia was the first country, then I went up to Mexico and visited Cuba. I didn’t really do a estimation of how much I should spend. I just went with the flow. Now, I’m much better in creating a budget and sticking to it. I stayed in Colombia for 4 months and took Spanish classes for 3 months at two different institutions. I also took Spanish classes at Nicaragua and Guatemala. Some countries were cheaper than others. By far, Costa Rica, Belize, Mexico and Cuba were the most expensive. Those were the countries where I had to be very strict on how I spent money. Whereas, in countries such as Honduras and Nicaragua, I could afford to pay more for better hostels, take more comfortable buses and eat at nicer places. Panama and Colombia are in the middle tier, sometimes I enjoyed ‘luxury’, other times I was careful on what I spent money on. Below, you will find a breakdown on how money was spent in general and by country/city. Oh, a good amount went towards ATM and Credit Card transaction fees.

Country Total USD Per Day (USD) Duration
Colombia $5,914.78            $53 16 Weeks
Panama $1,148         $32.8      5 Weeks
Costa Rica $294 $49 6 days
Nicaragua $1,679.29 $50 5 Weeks
Honduras $1,110.69 $26.4 6 Weeks
El Salvador $255.48 $36.5 1 Week
Guatemala $951.13 $45 3 Weeks
Belize $277 $40 1 Week
Mexico $902.54 $44 3 Weeks
Cuba $910 $65 2 Weeks
Sub Total $13,442.91
Ticket $1,490.50
Shots & other travel gears   $1,138.06  Included Backpack, medications, travel insurance e.t.c
Total $16,071.47
 *Ticket was Multi-city:First leg: Atlanta – Miami – Medellin (Colombia). Second Leg: Cartagena (Colombia) – Panama City. Third Leg: Mexico City – Havana (Cuba) – Panama City – Guatemala City. Fourth Leg: Mexico City – Houston (Texas, USA)

Colombia 2009: Aug 13 to Dec 12, 2009

Colombia USD Duration
Medellin $4,862.78 3 Months
Bogota $200 5 Days
Cali & Buenaventura $540 2 Weeks
Cartagena $312 1 Week
Total $5,914.78 4 Months
Medellin: Breakdown USD Duration
Spanish classes $1,572 7 Weeks
Home stay (2 meals per day, Laundry & Internet) $1,540 8 Weeks
Belly Dancing $103
Student Visa $150
Others (Food, Entertainment, Weekend trips, Tours, In-City transportation) $1,497.78
Total $4,862.78
Panama (Panama City, Bocas, David, Playa Las Lajas & San Blas) USD 1148
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $1,076
ATM fee $73
Costa Rica (Puerto Viejo & San Jose) USD 294
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $280
ATM fee $14
Nicaragua (Managua, Leon, San Juan del Sur, Playa Popoyo, Isla Ometepe, Corn Islands & Granada) USD 1679.29
ATM fee $86.21
Domestic Flight $171.33
Spanish class & Homestay $260
Fedex Shipment to the USA $221.83
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $939.92
Honduras (La Ceiba, San Pedro Sula, Copan, Sambo Creek, Tela) USD 1110.69
ATM fee $56.80
Other (Hostel, weekend trip, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $673.89
Room & Board $380
El Salvador (San Salvador, Playa El Tunco & Mozote) USD 225.48
ATM fee $5.48
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $250
Guatemala (Antigua, Lago Atitlan & Xela) USD 951.13
ATM fee $20.99
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $815.14
Spanish class $115
Belize (San Iganacio, Hopkins & Caye Caulker) USD 277
ATM fee $5
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $272
Mexico (Mexico City, Tulum, Merida, Oaxaca, Palenque & San Cristobal de las Casas) USD 902.54
ATM fee $10
Tour – (Chichen Itza) $35
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $857.54
Cuba (Havana, Santa Clara & Trinidad) USD 910
ATM fee $10
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $900

!Crazy Journey: 2 countries in 2 weeks!

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The Corn Islands is a very beautiful place – the water is clear and perfect for diving and snorkeling. I stayed mostly in Little Corn which has no cars and little modern luxuries but is very peaceful. I stayed at the beach in a wooden hut, did nothing for 3 days (chill in the hammock and eat fresh seafood) – good times. The flight to Corn Islands was really scary – the plane was soooooooo small, only 12 people can fit and you can feel the wind move the plane, thank God it was only a 1.5 hour flight.

I went back to Leon for my last week in Nicaragua & I stayed at a very tranquil hostel – La Tortuga Booluda – where I met up with Josephine, the German girl I met at Bocas del Toro, Panama. My last week in Leon was cool – I went to some bars that played really good live music, ‘La Olla Quemada’ is a really cool bar for the live music, ‘ViaVia hostel’ & ‘Taquezal’ are also good places to chill. Finally left precious Nicaragua on Sunday (Feb 14) after almost 2 months.

Honduras 3

El Mozote

El Mozote

The border crossing was an experience. A lot of hustlers, harassing you. My first stop in Honduras was San Pedro de Sula – a very cool & modern state, we passed through Tegucigalpa – the capital. We visited 4 cities in Honduras in a week, crazy right? Originally, I planned on spending 2 weeks in Honduras but it started raining the 2nd day we got there and it rained for 4 straight days, we were lucky it didnt rain by the time we got to Copan Ruins. By the ways, the ruins are amazing but not as impressive as Tikal in Guatemala……..well one thing about Honduras is that they have almost all the American fast food chains from Pop Eye chicken to KFC – one day, we had Donkin Donuts for breakfast, Quinos sub for lunch and Pizza hut for dinner. At this time, I was tired of rice and beans – the typical food in Central America.

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We left for El Salvador on Monday……..something very upsetting happened in the bus at the border. Two armed border patrol came into the bus to look over passports and traveling documents, the one looking over the documents didnt ask anyone a single question until he got to me. He started asking questions such as where am going to? Why I was going to El Salvador, For how long I was going to stay there? Then he decided that he was going to search my bags and I was escorted from the bus to be searched. His partner reluctantly searched my bag and I went back on the bus, the upsetting thing was that I was the ONLY person searched and questioned. It made me wonder because I was not the only foreigner but I was the only black – maybe I’m over analyzing but in my opinion the search was not necessary and if searching was part of their routine then more people should have be searched.

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San Salvador – the capital of El Salvador is not a very pretty city, we stayed one night and left to Perquin – a very small town for about 5,000 people. We went there because of its history of the war, the town was a very strong opposition stronghold during the war and its museum is very informative – it had information on what caused the war and the US involvement in the war. I found out like with every revolution – a lot of young people died, mostly university students, a lot of women also fought (with guns and all) in the war – the museum also had guns that were used during the war, its a pity taking pictures inside the museum is prohibited.

Next stop was El Mozote – also a small town who suffered dearly during the war, the government troops killed over 700 people in a 3 days killing spree. We were told that the people of the town were divided into 3 groups: women (females of 9 years & over), Men and children and during the 3 days killing, the men were killed the first day then children followed, the women were raped first, then killed. So far over 200 bodies have been recovered, of which about 140 were children. Very sad history.

Honduras 4
After that we went to Alegria, another small town with kindhearted people, the town has only 3 hotels. Peaceful but not for me. We later left for  Playa El Tunco – my last stop in El Salvador before going to Guatemala. This beach town is dominated with surfers and since I don’t surf, there’s nothing to be done here but relax. I’m not complaining either because by Sunday, I would have seen 2 countries (9 cities) in two weeks, so I really need to just relax for a few days.
El Salvador 2
Oh, how I can forget, I did a tattoo in Leon………..

Happy new month to you all……….