Sunday, August 7, 2016

[SAN SALVADOR] El Salvador de Multinationals

There were many differences between the Honduras and El Salvador trips as far as the journey was concerned. First, it takes around an hour less to reach San Salvador from Guatemala. Second, Pullmantur was way better a bus company than Hedman Alas. The seats were super comfy and the attendants were very welcoming and helpful. And yeah, there was WiFi, too! As for the border crossing, the bridge connecting the two countries can’t be crossed by large buses, which means a change was necessary.

But both buses on either side of the border are almost identical. As for crossing the bridge, they let you hop on a smaller minivan for the transfer. They collect your passport before you get off the bus, which means you won’t be seeing the immigration officers yourself, which means you leave your passport’s fate to destiny if it has less than three pages left. What I did was attach a sticker asking them NOT to stamp a new page. It was in vain. Some IOs just have to stamp a new page no matter what, now don’t they?

Pullmantur will stop at Sheraton at the terraces, a fancy fancy area of San Salvador. I don’t know but this is probably one of those rare times when I arrive in a new country without an itinerary and without the intention of planning one impromptu. Most of the time I cram by consulting Wikitravel last minute. Here, no thanks. I just got off the bus and started walking and asking for directions. When I found Wendy's, I decided to have lunch there. Since they use the US dollar as their currency, there were no forex hassles whatsoever.

The only tourist attraction I know is that statue honoring the divine savior of the world. This was easy to find thanks to the road signs but hard to reach because I walked all the way. From Wendy's it took me almost an hour, but I was taking photos and videos along the way. I do this leg torture not because I want to but because I simply need to have an idea how the city is when it comes to walking. In fact, this is what I usually do for most cities I visit. The verdict for San Salvador is that it’s walkable, although the weather was hot AF.

Walking around San Salvador revealed a population that is typically Latin American. The big event when I was there was this town fair with matching rides and all. I thought that only happened in far-flung small towns nowadays. But the people seemed happy and enjoying it. There were also a lot of vendors occupying the sidewalk, mostly women cooking street food. It was very Manila-like. Instead of jeepneys, they have those old buses previously used for school buses. The routing scheme seemed similar.

When I finally reached the monument, I was almost dying from exhaustion. It’s just that, I opted to take that stroll instead of locating my AirBNB place first and leaving my backpack there. It wasn’t heavy, but the hot weather meant a lot of sweating on my part. It’s a good thing that McDonalds was there to save the day, offering frozen Slurpee drinks to battle the heat. But of course, some selfies were overdue so I had to do that first. That area is camwhore-friendly. Just watch out for the skater boys here and there.

I also noticed a language institute offering courses for call center English. A block next to it were skyscrapers with the logos of Convergys and Telefónica on them. I guess business process outsourcing is also common here, although I’m imagining that it’s the reverse case as what we have in Manila. Here, I suppose Spanish speaking positions are more common and pay less, while English speakers are offered a premium. Why the hell am I talking about call centers?

Seeing San Salvador the statue flanked by American multinationals on all sides, it felt as though they are what he’s saving, these giant companies. Or perhaps it's just a reflection of reality as it is. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. It creates jobs and I'm guessing that there isn’t much time difference involved because the country does share a time zone with the US. That means the employees might not have to deal with the terrible night shifts we have in Manila.

What followed was more walking along one of the main avenues. I like San Salvador’s avenues. They tend to be wide, rather spacious, and not that busy. I passed by one of the fancy malls called Galerías and had an inner debate on whether I should just see a movie because I was totally not planning on doing any more sightseeing activities. In the end, I just located my AirBNB place, checked in, and went out in the evening with my friend José Cuervo.

No plan + No itinerary = Tequila. Hooray, me! At least I was able to cross El Salvador off my list. The country seems really green and I love the volcano stalking me at the background. The thing is, the neighboring countries also have enough greenery and the added bonus of having popular beaches as well as ancient ruins catering to the nerdy and the geeky. San Salvador doesn’t seem to be enjoying the same fame. In any case, go and check out the historic city center. I didn’t bother, but they say it’s worth an hour or two of sightseeing.
[SAN SALVADOR] El Salvador de Multinationals

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