In Loving Memory of Manuel Fernando Sanchez Gamboa (1990 - 2015), without you this website would not be possible.

Passport to the World

Fun Facts:

Days Traveling:
1,500

# of Pictures Taken:
39,838

# of Cities Visited:
371

# of Natural Parks Visited:
100

# of Countries Visited:
70

# of Flights:
29

# of Bus Trips:
345

# of Train Trips:
91

# of Boat Trips:
69

# of Times Hitchhiking:
5

Days with Car Rental:
24

Days with Motorcycle Rental:
3

Longest Time without showering:
13 days (Everest Base Camp Trek)

# of Times Getting Sick:
Gisela: 17
Sal: 18

# of Doctor Visits:
Gisela: 4
Sal: 5

Nights CouchSurfing:
366

Days WWOOFing:
124

Nights at Friends/Family:
291

Nights of Camping:
148

Nights in Hammock:
9

Nights Sleeping on a:
Airplane: 5
Airport: 3
Train: 37
Bus: 68
Boat: 24

# of Places we've Slept in:
556

# of Times Doing Laundry:
132

Longest Time Without Doing Laundry:
24 days

Additional Fun Facts

February 20, 2017

We visited El Salvador for 36 days from July 9, 2016. Reaching Sal's birthland was something we have been looking forward along our entire trip. During our days there, we were able to have quality time with family members and friends, enjoyed lots of delicious traditional food, and explored different areas of the country. Traveling a total of 14.5 hours by bus we made stops at La Palma, Cinquera, Suchitoto, Santa Tecla, Lourdes, and Cerro Pando in Morazan. We also made day trips to San Salvador, Izalco, Sunzal, Santa Ana, Tazumal, Ataco, Nahuizalco, Perquin, La Barra de Santiago, Los Chorros, and Salinitas.

All the places we got to visit in El Salvador left a sweet taste in our minds. We loved the traditional artsy style of La Palma motivated by the Salvadorian artist Fernando Llord, which we consider to be a fascinating way of positively impacting a community through art. Cinquera, a tiny town devastated and desolated during the civil war is now a living example of human's resiliency. Years ago, we first learned about the tragedies the people of Cinquera lived with the documentary of "El Lugar Mas Pequeno" (The Smallest Place). Being there and being able to meet and talk with the survivors of the war, who today are leaders of their community, was indeed very touching and meaningful to us. We also loved exploring different "Pueblos Vivos" (Live Towns) like Suchitoto, Ataco, and Perquin. Through this idea, the government has been promoting the reconstruction, preservation, and tourism to these towns across the country.

El Salvador, a beautiful land that continues to face the unsolved vestiges of their civil war and the social injustice that was never changed, as well as legislative and educational challenges due to their deep-rooted conservative religious beliefs. In El Salvador, abortion is penalized with the same severity as it is murder. Women charged with abortion as a crime currently face sentences for up to 30 years in jail. No rights exist to family planning and sexual education. Families living in poverty, with multiple children, without free access to education and opportunities to strive, are being forced to follow the same path generation after generation. Another concern regarding El Salvador is the environmental impact of extensive deforestation motivated by the population density and inappropriate practices of agriculture, such as mono-cultivated crops like sugar cane and coffee. Furthermore, the government policies benefiting the private sector continue to neglect their responsibility to raise the minimum wage to a livable amount. Currently, many workers are paid between $80 and $100 USD per month for their full-time work, a quantity that is not enough to live with dignity anywhere in El Salvador. A process of conscious education regarding the civil war could be the best way to prevent the increasing wave of gang violence, but this issue has never been taken seriously by the government either. El Salvador is the smallest nation in Central America, but the most densely populated and now is the one with the greatest debt. Migration of Salvadorians to other countries in search for a better future is common, with or without the financial means and education, and many continue to do it. Of the Salvadorian boys, girls, and adolescents with migrant parents, 59% have their father in the United States, and 26% have both parents. Issues of family disintegration and negative social impact into the new generations is very pronounced in El Salvador due to the high percentage of migration. The hopes are in the hands of many intelligent and brave Salvadorians that decided to stay in their country, many of them working daily with the support of international aid to touch and promote positive change in their communities.

Having quality time with family and friends, enjoying the local cuisine, and exploring different sites were by far our favorite aspects of this time in El Salvador. Being able to stay several days with Sal's maternal grandmother, who is turning 90 years old on November 7, 2016, was for sure the most memorable and inspirational experience we had. Leaving Sal's birthland was not easy, since we had to say goodbye to many people we love. We will be back to “El Pulgarcito” soon, because home is where your heart is. :D

Below are other great things we enjoyed about El Salvador:

Food and Drinks

El Salvador Food
- Sopa de Gallina India: free range chicken soup
- Horchata: cold drink made with rice, sesame seed, and other various spices
- Pupusas: corn flour traditionally stuffed with beans, cheese, and ground pork, but various ingredients are also available
- Pilsener Beer
- Corn on the Cob
- Shaved Ice with Lemon and Salt
- Regia Beer
- Rigua: green sweet corn cooked with cheese
- Atole: hot corn drink
- Tamales de Elote: fresh corn dough wrapped in a banana leaf
- Black Conch Cocktail
- Seafood Soup
- Suprema Beer
- Quesadilla: a bread made of corn and cheese
- Shuco: hot drink made of fermented black corn, black beans, and ground pumpkin seeds
- Mamones: local fruit known as genip or Spanish lime in English
- Mamey: local fruit
- Yuca con chicharron: fried or boiled cassava with pork rinds
- Alhuaiste: ground dried pumpkin seeds
- Golden Beer
- Chimol: chopped tomato with onion, cilantro, bell pepper, lemon, and salt
- Sopa de Patas: pig feet soup
- Empanadas de leche: plantain dough stuffed with sweet milk cream
- Chilate con Nuegados: hot drink made of toasted corn, cocoa, and other spices served with sweet cassava, plantains, and more
- Tamales de Pollo: corn flour stuffed with chicken and other herbs and spices
- Pollo Campero: a chain of fast food restaurant serving fried chicken
- Gallo en Chicha: rooster in sweet sauce
- Garlic Shrimp
- Semita: pineapple pastry
- Cadejo Beer

Favorite Sites and Activities

- Reuniting with Friends and Family
- Admiring the Colorful Murals and Artwork of La Palma
- Inspired by the Community Rebuilding and Resilience of the Village of Cinquera

People

- Rafa: from El Salvador, an ex-guerrilla turned park ranger we were able to talk to in Cinquera.
- Rosa: from El Salvador, a municipality worker that was able to give us a lot of information on the village of Cinquera and a documentary that was filmed there.
- Elba: from El Salvador, a resident of Cinquera we were able to talk to about her appearance in the documentary, "El Lugar Mas Pequeño."
- Eduardo: from El Salvador, met in Cinquera and he took us around showing us some sights.
- Araceli, Brenda, and Luis: from El Salvador, our CouchSurfing hosts in Suchitoto.
- Gustavo: from Guatemala, a friend of our CouchSurfing hosts in Suchitoto.
- Fermin: from Guatemala, a friend of our CouchSurfing hosts in Suchitoto.
- Joaquin and Reyna: from El Salvador, family friends that hosted us in Santa Tecla.
- Cristian, Adriana, and Jefferson: from Honduras and El Salvador, Cristian is Sal's cousin who we were able to meet up in San Salvador.
- Maria Teresa and family: from El Salvador, Sal's godmother we were able to get together in San Salvador.
- Mama Toya (Victoria): from El Salvador, Sal's grandmother who hosted us in Lourdes.
- Edgar, Telma, and daughters (Ivi, Liz, Michi): from El Salvador, Telma is Sal's aunt who hosted us with his grandma in Lourdes.
- Choni, Neto, and family (Oswaldo, Sara): from El Salvador, Choni is Sal's aunt that we were able to visit in Lourdes.
- Adriana: from El Salvador, Sal's cousin we were able to see in Lourdes.
- Tita and Yanira: from El Salvador, Sal's aunts we were able to see in Lourdes.
- Daisy, Carlos Luis, Monica, and family: from El Salvador, Sal's aunt and cousins we were able to see in Lourdes.
- Alvaro, Iliana, and Emma: from El Salvador, Iliana is Sal's cousin who we were able to spend time with in San Salvador.
- Martin and Andrea: from El Salvador, parents of a friend we were able to visit in Morazan.
- Salvador and Carmen: from El Salvador, Sal's parents met up with us in San Salvador.
- Salvador (Tito) and Daniela: from Honduras and Romania, Tito is Sal's cousin we were able to meet up with in El Salvador.
- Salvador and Zulma: from El Salvador, Salvador is Sal’s uncle we were able to meet up with in Lourdes.

Animals Viewed

El Salvador Animals
- Crocodiles
- Turkeys

Common Sayings

- Minuta = Shaved Ice
- Cipote/a = Child
- Bicho/a = Little Child
- Bolo/a = Drunk Person
- Bolado = Thing
- Cerote = Piece of Excrement (vulgar)
- Cabal = Exactly
- Va Pue = Okay
- Chiniar = To Carry
- Pacho = Shallow
- Sorbete = Ice Cream
- Colocho/a = Person with Curly Hair

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