El Salvador. Despite being just a hop, skip and a jump from Honduras, the differences immediately bombard you once crossing the imaginary line which divides the two Latin American countries. Although in the same blood line, I guess you could say El Salvador is the better looking sister. But don’t get your feelings hurt Honduras, you’ve got a great personality.
On the surface, it is evident. The majority of the roads are paved, the cities cleaner, and the people differ a bit in appearance. But these are just the obvious ones. After meeting the many gregarious El Salvadorans along your journey, one can’t help but notice the inherent and genuine desire they possess to help guide the weary traveler. A few times I found myself lost, and before I could find someone to ask for help, someone had already found me. Most likely, this eagerness to help is also due to their curious disposition. Everyone I met was eager to know my story, and with their eyes wide open and smiles perma-glued to their faces, they nodded their heads eagerly while trying to understand my broken Spanish.
As for the ones that speak some English, they are extremely proud to start a conversation with you, and love the opportunity to practice. I actually met quite a few who could speak English due to spending time in the States working odd jobs. One guy even hawked fake (excuse me, real) Casio watches along the streets of L.A., and consequently, had brought the trade back with him to San Salvador.
After crossing the border, I boarded an old school bus, turned electric blue party bus. The driver was blasting Reggeaton music, and surprisingly, the sound system was pretty decent. I couldn’t help but notice the resemblance to the party buses back home that we pay hundreds of dollars to rent for the night. However, this journey only cost me $1.30, stunning view included. While we made our way through the countryside, bus rocking from the beats, and plantain chips in hand, bright and fanciful murals commenced to pop up everywhere. There were depictions of families, farmers, abstract shapes and electric colors. I even saw a mural that said “Somos Parte de la Solucion” (We are part of the solution), with scenes depicting Mother Earth. This was particularly refreshing, as in other Central American countries, recycling and conservation is not a topic widely discussed around the trashfire.
In La Palma, no wall space is left unmarked, transforming the streets into a playground for the eyes. As soon as I stepped off the bus into La Palma, I felt as if I had been teleported into a Pixar film. Thanks to the efforts of Fernando Llort, a Honduran artist who moved to La Palma from the capital of San Salvador, the town is covered in art from head to toe. After moving to La Palma, Llort founded the Center for Integral Development, a school for anyone wanting to learn art. With this new trade, the majority of the people in La Palma make a decent living selling their arts and crafts.
Another gem I happened to visit was the town of Juayua. (Pronounced Why-You-Ah) I highly recommend this town to anyone traveling in El Salvador. It truly is one of the most unique towns I have come across. Juayua is located along the Ruta de Los Flores, nestled in between hills of coffee plantations as far as the eye can see. The people are charming, the markets bustling, and the food phenomenal. Every weekend the town hosts a Feria Gastronomica (food festival) where people from all over El Salvador bring traditional dishes to sell, resulting in an eclectic menu to delight the taste buds. It is here you can find anything from grilled iguana, rabbit tacos, stewed frogs, to coffee flavored snow cones.
So, if you are looking for a relaxing and cultural place to visit, make a stop in Juayua, where the term “picturesque” must have been coined. In this living canvas, the people are charming, the town tranquillo, and the cobblestone streets are virtually motor free.
As for the rest of El Salvador, I am not delusional in thinking that every square inch is all peaches and cream. I am aware of the fact that there exists an immense deal of poverty and violence. This was quite evident while passing though the capital of San Salvador. Sadly, I witnessed the technicolored murals evolve into graffiti, accompanied by gang signs plastered over the numerous Coca-Cola and Pepsi advertisements. But a big city in Latin America is just that. A big city.
As for Honduras, I still love the place, and am content to be living here for now. But Honduras needs to step up its game, and what better way then to spread some paintbrush lovin all over the country?
San Salvador street art photo via flickr // joebackward
People all over the world know two things that London has in abundance: amazing street art and crappy weather. While I cannot help you with the latter, I can show you where to find some magnificent street art -- as well as several other offbeat sights and activities that should not be missed next time you are in London. It's time to dive on into the offbeat and off the beaten path side of London!
First things first. You've escaped the airport and dropped your bags off at the hotel room. Now what? It's time for a drink! Walk right past that hotel bar though, that's not where you want to be. Find a nice, quirky watering hole and go mingle with some locals. My personal favorite is the Phoenix Artist Bar -- and if you don't already want to visit there just based off hearing the name then please, just stop reading now, because this guide is clearly not for you.
Phoenix is becoming less-and-less "hidden" every month but that doesn't make it any less offbeat. The bar is frequented by those in the theatre industry and is in fact a private club. However non-members can get in by presenting a theatre ticket. The interior is stocked full of theatre memorabilia and their upbeat atmosphere will make you quickly feel right at home. Other offbeat options include Cellar Door and the aptly named Happiness Forgets.
London has no shortage of theatres and shows, however my personal favorite is the Whirled Cinema. From the outside the building appears to be an abandoned but inside it is the most lavish 60-person theatre that you've ever seen. They also have a small bar where you can order cocktails or a pizza to make your movie more enjoyable. Good luck finding the place though!
Toilets have become all the rage in recent years, with more and more countries opening up toilet restaurants. London even has a toilet coffee shop. However in order to truly appreciate these necessities of daily life, it helps to learn how far they have come over the years. London Loo Tour is an hour-and-a-half long walking tour that traces the history of toilets all the way up to now. You'll never look at the loo the same way after!
Located in southeast London, the 19 acre garden surrounding Eltham Palace is arguably the best garden -- and best-kept green secret -- in all of London. Here visitors can escape the chaos and noise of the city without ever actually leaving the city. The entire property is considered a three-in-one getaway: visitors can relax in the park, marvel in the majestry that is Eltham Palace (which dates back to the 1300s), and even tour the 1930s Art Deco house also located there.
Last but not least is London's street art scene. Head on over to Brick Lane and the surrounding areas to find some of the city's best street art, including several well-known works by Banksy and other prolific artists. Further north are the neighborhoods of Dalston and Hackney, both of which not only have plenty of street art but also an abundance of vintage stores, boutique cafes, quirky coffee shops and other independent businesses that will make it easy to pass the day away.More HoliDaze Offbeat Travel Guides
Street art (sometimes called graffiti art) is a very unique and interesting form of modern artistic expression. The vivid colors and neverending creativity of their artists have a tendency to impress both locals and tourists alike.
Like most major metropolises Toronto boasts its own collection of street art, including the aptly named "Graffiti Alley," which runs parallel to Queen street on the southern side.
To check out the wall art for yourself, start at Queen and Spadina and head west, walking down every alley you pass. There is also a healthy amount of street art scattered a few blocks north of there, throughout the Kensington Market.
Wow. That was definitely the most photos I have ever posted in one article. Hope y'all enjoyed them!