Surf, Skate, Pupusas- El Salvador 2022

One of the most amazing things about living in this small community has been the bonds that we have built with other families. One family we have grown very close with are the Zambranos. The father is Panamanian and the mom is from El Salvador. The kids are right around the same age of our kids, and they play amazingly together. We were honored when they invited us to join them on their most recent trip to El Salvador for their oldest daughter’s first communion and their new baby’s baptism. We jumped at the chance to go see El Salvador through the eyes of a native.

We were welcomed with open arms by their family who live in a spatial house perched on a hill, nestled in a forest and filled with old world artifacts and priceless art. Of course, BC’s favorite part was that we were greeted with the traditional meal of drunken chicken stew and the first of many plates of pupusas.

San Salvador is emerging as a modern Latin American city with upscale malls, charming boutiques, and chic cafes and restaurants. Within the city borders there is a magical oasis- a volcanic lake formed by a meteor so large that when it hit, it caused the last ice age. Now it is a day resort in which families can eat and relax under cabanas while the kids go down the waterslide countless times.

Of course, we also enjoy traveling outside of the city. El Salvador is building a reputation as a surf destination and is even hosting a World Surf League event this year. We headed to the coast, but the waves were SO BIG that week that there wasn’t much surfable. We still enjoyed exploring the black sand beaches, caves and nearby “Surf City.” We had originally signed the kids up for a three day surf camp at Puro Surf, an elite surf training resort. However, because the waves were so big for them, we shortened it to one day. They traveled to a nearby wave that was more their size. The kids gained some new skills and built their confidence. In a few more years, they’ll be ready to return and commit to a longer camp. PJC’s instructor summed him up perfectly when he said, “He is a natural talent, but he doesn’t listen.” Yup, welcome to my world.

From the coast, we headed to the highland coffee region. We were surrounded by lush vegetation and flora. Our cabin even had a mulberry tree the kids feasted on. We enjoyed several outdoor adventures- horseback riding, pedal go-karts, 4 wheeling, and riding a bike over a zip line. After the highlands, we returned to the city for a couple more days.

For their last experience in San Salvador, the dad took the kids to a zoo while the moms were able to shop, get pedicures and have an amazing brunch. We met up for Mexican food later that evening and the kids informed us that they decided that day that there were no longer friends, they were family. We could start call each other primos, tio/as. Spending this time together deepened their connection and created a huge bank of amazing memories. We spent our last day enjoying a lunch overlooking another huge volcanic lake and celebrating the amazing trip together. We are forever in gratitude to our new family for sharing their country with us. It was a rich cultural experience deepened by their love and hospitality. And for the bonus, we snuck pupusas home in the suitcase!

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