First Week in El Salvador Update

I’ve officially been in El Salvador for a week–and boy, what a week it’s been! Below I’ve written a brief breakdown of my first week in the homeland.

Day 1 (July 29th): I arrived at Saint Oscar Arnulfo Romero National Airport around 11. The airport was just like any other airport. Since my parents were born in El Salvador and I was traveling with my mom, I didn’t have to pay for a travel visa ( since I’m a US-born citizen). As soon as we went through customs and picked up our bags it was time to go through the doors that take you out of the airport. There, dozens of faces patiently await for their family members to arrive from all around the world. Let me tell you, the  humidity hits you like a brick. After some searching, we finally find my grandfather, his stepson, and my aunt. We pack up the car and on we go. Now, the roads in El Salvador are windy and often surrounded by pastures or with thick jungle. Traffic regulations are only lightly enforced so drivers aren’t the…safest. It’s about a 1.5 hour drive from the airport in San Salvador to my parents’ hometown in the department of San Miguel. (Departments are sort of the equivalent of states here in the US.) Before arriving all the way home, we stopped by eating lunch in the department of Usulután. We ate Salvadoran style tacos filled with melted queso fresco, ground beef, lettuce, tomato sauce, and shredded cabbage. We got home, exhausted, and hung out with our family for the night before going to bed.


Days 2-4(July 30th-August 1st): Coincidentally, ES is celebrating their nationwide patron saint festival from Aug 1st to 6th. This month departments from around the country celebrate their patron saint and other indigenous traditions with big festivals, lots of food, religious processions, church ceremonies, and fairs! Awesome, right? However, it meant that the work I was going to do in government buildings/ museums…had to be completed as soon as possible. Thus, I left bright and early Tuesday morning to travel back to the country’s capital and take advantage of the time I had to do some archival work at the Archives of the Nation and at the Museum of Word and Image. I had some pretty interesting finds in both locations (I will discuss these in another post!) What I found really interesting about all the time I spent in the capital was how much it functioned just like any other major city in the world: major shopping centers, restaurants, traffic, and suburbs along its edges. People dressed as you would expect any group of people to dress in a cosmopolitan center and the youth were up and about.

Okay, I promise these are getting brief-er.

Day 5 (August 2nd): Woke up early to hit the road back east to San Miguel. Arrived and had some fresh corn tamales my grandpa’s wife made for us. I saw the whole process, from peeling the corn, to slicing the kernels out, to grinding the corn into flour and preparing the corn husk leaves. I spent the rest of the night on a hammock speaking with family.

Day 6 (August 3rd): Woke up early for a 2 hour drive to the department of Morazan near the border of Honduras. In this department in the small town of El Mozote in 1981, the armed forces slaughtered an entire town of old folks, women, men, and children in a deadly operation to end support for the revolutionary guerilla. I will post more on this in my next post as well, but for a quick recap: I visited the town, a monument, and the cave from which the guerilleros would transmit their radio “radio venceremos” (translated to radio we will overcome). Then we drove over to the city of Perquin where the Museum of the Revolution holds helicopter remains from one of the helicopters the guerilleros were able to take down (in which a notorious national general was flying), international posters of solidarity with the people of ES, and pictures of heroes and martyrs for the people. I had dinner in a lovely cabin on the side of a chilly mountain, drinking fresh hot chocolate (made from real cocoa, not powder!).

Day 7 (August 4th): My aunt arrived from the department of La Libertad and we traveled to El Espino, a nearby beach. I really just took this day to relax after almost 5 days of intense research and travel. The beaches in El Salvador face the Pacific ocean and due to lots of Volcanos, most have dark sand. The waters are never cold! I had a nice day full of coconuts, fresh caught shrimp, and minutas (Salvadoran snow cones).

That was my first week! I can’t wait to elaborate more on the information I found in the archives and in El Mozote (and share pictures too!)


Until next time!




  1. Hello! Throughout the summer I have been introduced and with the help of the Charles Center have had the opportunity to purchase an extensive reading list of not just Central American poets, but scholars and academics too. While I haven’t read the works/ authors you mentioned just yet (except for Forche! I am now reading her newest book…) they are definitely somewhere on my reading list.

  2. oliviavandewoude says:

    Hi there,

    Thank you for sharing updates on your creative project about El Salvador’s history, with a focus on the Salvadoran Civil War. I read that you examined Javier Zamora’s work, but I was wondering what other poets, writers, and artists you have been studying. Have you analyzed Roberto Huezo’s work? And have you read Joaquín M. Chávez’s “Poets and Prophets of the Resistance: Intellectuals and the Origins of El Salvador’s Civil War”? Or Carolyn Forche’s “What You Have Heard Is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance”? Based on my limited research, these appear to be pertinent resources for your project. I look forward to reading more of your updates, and to hearing more about your second week in El Salvador!

    Best wishes,