St. Patricks Day in El Salvador

This year I spent St. Patrick’s day with my family eating a delicious vegan meal from a Buddhist temple nearby.

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Often my holidays are a bit eclectic and random, but always fun. Although I’ve been to Ireland, my most traditional St. Patrick’s day actually took place when I was in El Salvador a few years ago… I was traveling alone through Central America. I left Honduras on a bus that left 7 hours later than it was supposed to. I was already a bit worried about my time in El Salvador as the capital averages 10 murders a day in gang related activity, and that’s where I was first headed.

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In the bus crossing Honduras – El Salvador border.

I arrived to the Capital when it was dark and took a cab to a hotel I got from Lonely Planet’s Central America on a ShoeString. As the cab is dropping me off into this dark almost dead street, the hotel I was planning on staying in is closing the front with a huge barred fence. I run over and ask if they have any rooms left. It happened to be the night they had just elected a new president, and the lady looked at me like I was crazy. She told me her hotel and anywhere else around was overbooked. After seeing my panic and knowing I had nowhere to go she offered me a bed at her home for $12, she lived right behind the hotel. I ended up staying there since I had no other option, and was on my way the next day.

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The room I stayed in.

I left San Salvador, the capital and made it to Perkin. At this point of my trip I was so tired and started to feel lonely, Perkin is a small town, so I knew my chances weren’t high of making friends, but I was praying the hotel I was going to stay in had television. I got there after a long trek of dirt roads, and the hotel was in the middle of nowhere. It was nothing like the city though, it was out in a beautiful untouched area of El Salvador. This is where all the war museum stuff was, which is why I was determined to make it here. I hiked like 100 steps to the reception, surrounded by beautiful trees and a huge wooden area to sit in and eat. I got a room, and then had to hike up another never ending trail of steps. There was no TV, but it was a beautiful room, and a hammock outside of it. I wrote in my journal as I did almost every day of my travels and realized it was St. Patrick’s day.

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Besides maybe during college St. Patricks day has never been that big of a deal to me, mostly just a big drinking holiday, but I sat there remembering good times spent with friends on various years. Watching Boondock Saints with my roommates one year. Going out to all the Irish bars in San Francisco, the streets flooded with people the year before…etc. I decided despite my sluggishness to go down to the restaurant to celebrate on my own for old times sake. I ordered a glass of red wine and neapolitan ice cream. There was no one around besides the people who worked there. As I was almost finishing a group of people came in all dressed in green and ordered a round of beers. I chuckled to myself, and went up to pay my bill, I didn’t feel brave enough to befriend them. As I was going up to pay one of them came up to me and asked in funny sounding Spanish “de donde eres?” We started talking and he soon realized I spoke English, so we switched to that. Him and his group were all from Ireland, working in El Salvador doing civil engineering. I went back to their table and met the rest of the group. There was a family with them, who was staying at a hostel nearby with two children. The whole family was doing a 10 month trip around the world and homeschooling their children during it. I ended up having one more glass of wine with one of the females in their group who was there for the peace corp and asking about her experience here.  They were all so loud, and had green stickers all over them which kept on getting moved around. It was such an interesting brief little break on my trip. Watching them go through beer after beer and chatting in their loud Irish accents reminded me I was right where I was supposed to be.

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