So, if you somehow find yourself with 10 hours of free time in San Salvador:
1) Search for souvenirs like a tourist, shop at the mall like a local
A good stop for handicrafts is the Mercado Nacional de Artesanías near Zona Rosa. This small, yet hospitable market is worth 45 minutes to an hour of your time as vendors sell everything from hammocks (El Salvador's staple) to crafts to coffee. After touristy shopping there, head over to Metrocentro, the largest modern mall in Central America, and a very chic place where locals head out on weekends. Yes, there's a Payless and yes, I bought shoes there!
Metrocentro, the largest mall in Central America, offers holiday train rides
2) Pay homage at Archbishop Oscar Romero's memorial
Bishop Romero actively spoke out against oppression and persecutions carried out by the government of El Salvador. Assassinated at the altar just over thirty years ago, he will forever be a symbol for speaking out against human rights violations.
The altar where Archbishop Oscar Romero was assassinated
3) Spend an evening walking from the Santa Tecle Municipal Palace to the Plaza de la Cultura
Full of new restaurants, the streets of Santa Tecle provide nightlife more low-key than that of Zona Rosa. At the Municipal Palace, design students of the Universidad Dr. Jose Matias Delgado held an art exhibition of recycled household goods while a dance show was held at the Plaza de la Cultura. On the way, don't forget to eat a pupusa at a street vendor!
She was so happy to make our pupusas!
4) Visit the UCA (University of Central America) with a heavy heart, leave with hope
El Salvador is a beautiful country with a sad history of civil war. On the night of November 16, 1989, it was here that a Salvadoran Army patrol massacred six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her daughter. The Jesuits were voicing concerns over the atrocities of human rights violations being committed by the government during the war. So I should say, now that the war is long over, never forget, always remember, and see the country for the beauty that lies as its heart.
The Rose Garden with memorials of those deceased at the UCA
And for the last hour, I highly recommend dancing with Santa, Mrs. Claus, and their helpers if you get the chance!