Fell in love with El Salvador

2009, just turned 18 and finished high school I felt overwhelmed by the huge amount of university programs in Austria and decided I needed a break from studying. Instead, I thought it was time to get to know other countries and cultures. I chose to travel with the organization to El Salvador, Partner with Teaching You, to work on a turtle conservation project and teach English. I couldn’t find lots of tourist information about El Salvador and didn’t know anyone who had visited the country, so I felt really adventurous. As a naïve and very idealistic 18-year old, I chose the particular program because I always had the wish to make a difference and to help to change the world to become a better place. What I never expected was how much El Salvador would change me. I didn’t know what to expect from the upcoming months. What I got was great friendships with local women as well as other volunteers, which last till today, a total new perspective on what is necessary for a happy life and most of all, a second family, la familia Batres, who welcomed me with open arms and treated me like one of their own from the very beginning.

Especially my “hermano” and (at this time) coordinator of the organization, Joaquin, supported me immensely throughout the six months. He not only made sure I had everything I wished for during my time in Santa Tecla, but also showed me all the great places there are to explore in his country. Grown up in Austria, where people are friendly but always keep their distance towards strangers, Salvadorenos surprised me with their amiability, hospitality and curiosity. I completely feel in love with the country itself - the impressive volcanoes, the picturesque beaches, the green landscape and, of course, the delicious food.

When I returned home to Europe and started university, the wonderful memories of El Salvador were always in the back of my head. 5 years later, my university program was coming to an end, I realized that summer 2015 might be my last long holidays for a long time. I have been telling my boyfriend for years how I wanted him to meet my family in Central America and show him the beautiful treasures El Salvador had to offer. So within a short time, we planned a backpacking trip from Panama to El Salvador and off we went to my all-time favorite travel destination.

In only 5 weeks we explored Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and finally my personal highlight El Salvador. Tasting all the delicious food again – nuegados, yuca frita, pupusas, platanos y frijoles, taco loco, fresh orange juice from Joaquin’s garden, Daisy’s specialities – felt like heaven. Joaquin and his family showed us once again incredible hospitality and cared for us as if we belonged to the family, even though they just had met my partner. Thanks to Joaquin, the best travel guide in the world, we could visit beautiful Suchitoto, the famous Ruta de las Flores, the surfing hotspot Playa El Zonte and the truly impressive Vulcan Santa Ana all within less than a week. For the second time, I fell in love with El Salvador, and I definitely will be back again.