With the winter doldrums upon us in November, we sent El Camino photographer Kate Warren south to explore El Salvador and connect with local communities. Here's her visual dispatch from her travels.
Five days, nine travel journalists, one bus. From dawn until well past dusk we tore around the country for a whirlwind week of seeing AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE of El Salvador. I'd been before, but the country has changed quite a bit since then and our itinerary was aggressive - I took notes frantically. I was the only photographer on the trip and two decades younger than the other guests, except for a whip-smart writer from New York named Tyler with whom I made fast friends. With our matching haircuts and equally curious, immersive attitudes toward travel we jumped into experiencing El Salvador head first. New lady boss partner in crime? Boo yeah.
There were major adventures; we fed spider monkeys, kayaked through mangroves, released baby sea turtles, took surfing lessons, and saw incredible ancient ruins. Each evening I edited like a maniac to process the pictures in real time before falling into bed. It was wild, it was fun, and exhausting in the way only a totally immersive new experience can be - full sensory overload, in all the best ways.
Check out the photos from my adventures below - I put all the info in the captions. Big thanks to the Salvadorean Ministry of Tourism for having me, my hosts JC and Dana from Cotidiana Collective for all their attention and planning, our fearless guide Raul, and the other guests for keeping things interesting.
DAY ONE: PUERTO PARADA, JIQUILISCO BAY, ISLA LA PIRRAYA, PUERTO BARILLAS
DAY TWO: PUERTO BARRILAS, PLAYA CANGREJERA, EL TUNCO
After learning the in's and out's of cacao farming we hopped on the bus and headed to Playa Cangrejera, a small beach outpost where sea turtles come to lay their eggs. Like other struggling coastal Central American countries, there is a history of people stealing sea turtle eggs here. We met with a local non-profit who buys some of the nests back from thieves 4 nights each month. They then incubate the eggs and release them into the wild. We helped them release some while we were visiting, and it was an incredible experience I'll never forget. There's nothing like an adorable baby turtle to make you hope that the little things in life can hang in there.
DAY THREE: NAHUIZALCO, JARDIN DE CELESTE, LAGUNA VERDE, CONCEPCION DE ATACO
Then we learned how to make coffee, which is pretty much just like cacao, except coffee. All of it was really fascinating, since I love both things.
DAY FOUR: TAZUMAL, SANTA ANA, COATEPEQUE, JOYA DE CEREN
DAY FIVE: SAN SALVADOR
For our final day we stayed in San Salvador. We had a beautiful lunch at the modern art museum, visited the central Plaza Libertad downtown, the Cathedral, Saint Romero's burial site, and famous Salvadorean artist Fernando Llort's gallery. We also stopped at the Iglesia El Rosario, a contemporary cathedral unlike any I've visited...and that's really saying something, because I've lived and traveled in Europe. As you can see below, the cathedral appears broken down on the outside, but when you enter it's a stunning array of rainbow broken glass. It's a truly moving space.
Thanks for following along. I had a blast and can't wait to go back. I'll be traveling to Colombia with El Camino next month, so stay tuned. You can follow El Camino on Instagram @elcaminotravel and me @gokateshoot. Adios!