The Central American countries have always appealed to me as places to visit for the warm climate—this is where bananas and coffee are grown—but I was also especially interested in studying the Mayan ruins. I began thinking about going a couple of years ago and recently got in contact with the owner of a tour company in Honduras; together, we made a plan that worked for me. I was able to fly into one of the countries, travel with a guide though four countries, and depart from the fourth country.
Before purchasing my flight tickets, I checked out pertinent information from the US Travel Bureau. These four countries, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, are listed in the top ten for most dangerous countries to travel. I am up-to-date on shots and health requirements, but I was a woman, traveling alone except for a native guide. I was concerned: was my desire to study the Mayan ruins, learn about the culture of the people, and hike in the mountains reason enough to risk my safety? Again, I was putting all my trust in my guide.
This was the time when Trump had just been elected president and a ban on immigration had been put in place. I believed airport security could be a problem, either entering or leaving the country. I have gone through most of our country’s airports and many airports around the world; the atmosphere at Miami International has sometimes been quite unfriendly.
I thought about going or not and found a time of several weeks that were free for me. Finally, I committed to the trip. I only had a couple of weeks to prepare, but fortunately no visas are required, my passport was in order, and I planned to travel light: only a knapsack and a small suitcase. I knew it would be wise to leave behind jewelry and go low-key, bringing hiking shoes and sandals, pants and wicking tops, and a change of clothes. It is a very hot climate with only two seasons: dry and wet. I was traveling in the dry season.
I have been to South America and the Caribbean countries several times, but I had always departed from Maine in the winter. This time, the travel time and temperature changes would require less adjustment on my part, as I was leaving from Florida and only had a drive to Miami and a flight of less than two hours to El Salvador.
At Miami International Airport, I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by friendly attendants and a new facelift of the airport interior. The trip was beginning on a pleasant note. The weather was good and there were no delays. I traveled by American Airlines and was surprised that the plane was only about one-third full of passengers.
In late afternoon, I arrived at a small international airport and went through customs there. The customs officer attending me was friendly, and with documents in hand, I found it easy to gain access into the country. There was a transfer waiting for me at the exit. Soon we were on the way to San Salvador, capital of El Salvador, and I was on my way for a remarkable and unforgettable adventure.
(posted March 21, 2017)