16 February 2023

Lake Ilopango

We took off westward from San Salvador and then when we got over the Pacific Ocean the plane took a right turn (Madhu and Michele, please note this) and after completing a full circle, flew back over San Salvador city. With a clean view of Lake Ilopango.

If you can see the runways in the middle of the picture, that is the original San Salvador airport (now called Ilopango airport).

16 February 2023

Another headscratcher

Boarded the plane and sat down in my seat. Tried to get some posts written before they ask us to stow away the laptops.

Do you see anything amiss in my screenshot?

I am in a Delta flight. But the wifi says United Airlines. I cannot see any United plane on my right. I cannot see on my left side (windows closed).

Interestingly, the Delta SSID is nowhere to be found. But I can connect to the United one!!!

Go figure!

16 February 2023

A quiz for the veteran flyers, especially if you fly international often

After clearing immigration and security, I came to the gates in Sal Salvador airport. I was checking out the various duty free stores. And I wanted to check something else out that had struck me when I had come into the airport on Saturday.

Look at the picture. What is amiss in this?

Here is a hint… I originally had the doubt standing at this exact point when I came into the airport on Saturday

See the answer only after you have given it some thought.



Come on… give it some thought… there is a visual clue….




Well, notice the sign for “Immigration” (Migracion). Remember, I am an outbound passenger and I had already cleared immigration. So what was that sign doing there?

As I mentioned in my hint, I was actually standing there when I came in too. I needed that sign to figure out which way to go for immigration. Which means incoming international passengers and outgoing international passengers actually can mingle. Happened with the incoming Delta flight today too – saw all the passengers alight and go past me – just like in a domestic flight.

This is what had struck me when I came into the country. Why was I going past all the duty free shops and restaurants and bars before I could even get to the immigration counter?

Have not seen this in any other country.

Coming to think of it, I cannot see any possibility of security breach. All passengers – incoming and outgoing – had to clear security to get to that point. One interesting side effect though is that if you are connecting to another flight to a different country (e.g. Miami to San Salvador to San Juan in Costa Rica), you do not have to get an immigration stamp on your passport !!

Have any one of you seen this anywhere?

16 February 2023

The national liquor of El Salvador – Chaparro Flor de Fuego!

This is the drink Mauricio, Erick and Blanqui gifted me. Some claim that the national liquor of El Salvador is a far more coarse drink called Tic Tack. This one is made from corn and panela which is unrefined whole cane sugar. It has roots way back to the Mayan times. Of course, there was no sugarcane then in this part of the world (till Columbus brought it over from Spain).

Interestingly, the name is derived not from the ingredients but the Chaparro tree whose wood is used during the distillation process. Burning of wood from this tree produces minimal amount of smoke.

Can’t wait to go home and try this!

Thank you Mauricio, Erick and Blanqui !!

15 February 2023

Two new friends from El Salvador!

Without the help of Paola Perez, this trip could not have been this successful. I had no idea what to expect other than the fear of security that I had heard while in the USA. Once I booked a room in the Sheraton, I reached out to them to talk to somebody.

Paola – who is in charge of guest relations – answered all sorts of questions from me – including if it was safe for me to move around with my camera!! She offered all sorts of options of places to visit. Once I explained that I am not into architecture or long dead people, she quickly understood what might be interesting to me.

She also arranged for the car and an English speaking guide and driver. As if that was not all, she also left a gift made by local artisans for me.

Had a chance to have dinner with her and her friend Maria Jose today. Learnt how typical life is for twenty somethings in El Salvador. One interesting fact I learnt is that after high school, instead of going to University – which people find costly – often people go to something called an Academy to learn English to improve their job prospects. It is aa 18 month course, I believe. In fact, Paola Perez was with the local airlines Volaris. But she never got a chance to speak English. So, she switched to the Marriott group – this way, she gets more exposure to English thru the guests!

Congratulations Maria Jose on your upcoming wedding. And I hope Paola Perez, you make it to your dream vacation in Colombia!!

Till next time!

15 February 2023

He made it his mission not to miss this chance to meet

Ever since I posted about my El Salvador trip on Facebook, Gerardo Urias has been desperately trying to figure out how to meet. He was traveling for work and then when he came back he was stuck with way too many meetings at office.

Finally, we managed to see each other this evening. The reason he absolutely wanted to have the meeting is that this is the first time we met! We have worked in the same company at one point of time and all our meetings were over the phone. These were the days when we did not have Zoom or video calling facilities.

The first time I got to see how he looks like was when he accepted by Facebook request – way after I had left the company.

I am impressed that he remembered me. Even went to the extent of accusing me of being helpful when we worked together!! I am sure his standards have improved since then.

Gerardo has a very interesting life story. Both his parents immigrated from Israel to Honduras and then moved to El Salvador which is where they met each other. I was very impressed to hear about his son – also called Gerardo – who at the age of 24 has a flourishing coffee business!

I am so grateful that he made all the effort to meet me. Otherwise, I would have missed seeing this fine gentleman for God knows how many years!