The past few days my best friend and I have had the pleasure of exploring one of El Salvador’s main tourist attractions (yes, they do have tourist attractions here, just not a lot of tourist). Normally, I am tourist-adverse, but in this case I was pleasantly surprised as we spent two days along the route before we came across another group of tourist.
Starting with a $1.30, 40 mile, 3.5 hour ride on a chicken bus from San Salvador up into the mountains where James and I were the only gringos in sight, we made our way to the city of Ahuachapán, one of two “major” cities along the route. Having read about the famous guest house, La Casa de Mamapan, rich with family history and full of authentic Salvadorian art, we spent our first night as the only guest in what was by far the most expensive and luxurious accommodations around (~$50 per night).
The guest house was originally an actual house that has been converted into a ten room maze of colorful murals, family portraits, charming lounges, and relaxing dining areas. Situated in the heart of Ahuachapán, the location could not have been better. Directly outside the entrance is a quintessential Central America square complete with fountains, benches, flowers, and lots of local color. Directly next to the guesthouse sits a beautiful bright white cathedral which makes for some breathtaking photos as the sun sets, illuminating the front façade in a gorgeous golden hue.
A wonderful woman named Claudia runs the guesthouse with a few other family members and a couple locals. We never actually met Claudia, but word on the street has it that her brother is the man behind the vibrant animated art found all throughout La Casa de Mamapan and the rest of Ahuachapán. As beautiful as the city was, we only spent one night there, as our main purpose for heading up the Ruta de Flores was to experience the weekly food festival in Juayua. So after a very restful and quiet night of sleep in the only room with air conditioning (major plus), we ate our $5.00 breakfast and headed to the bus stop for our second chicken bus adventure.
Next stop, Gastronomia Food Festival.