Hi from Rick: Eye-Opening El Salvador
|Rick Steves revisits El Salvador for an update after a decade of right wing-imposed peace.|
While I've never paid for anything fancier than coach to fly, I'll confess to recently getting "bumped up." Last week, an airline agent — a big fan of my TV shows — did me the favor while checking me in to fly from Miami to San Salvador. Moments later, as I reclined in a first-class leather seat — my drink in a real glass — I looked out the window and wondered, "Why did I end up so fortunate?" (And I was thinking about more than just my spot on the airplane...or the joys of travel in general.) As we gained altitude, I took in the view. A chain of lights ended at Key West, then, deep in the blackness, glittered the forbidden city of Havana. The pilot set course across the Gulf of Mexico. After 13 years, I was returning to El Salvador.
Landing in San Salvador, I'm met by Cesar, who works for the educational tour I'm joining. As he drives me into the city, I see a pile of unexpected faces in his coin dish — shiny Lincolns and Washingtons. My coins have become the official local currency of another country. It's clear, I'm in for an education.
In this month's Travel News, you'll find an entire section reporting on my eye-opening Central American experience. It may not be Europe, but it's a very real example of how travel can deepen a "sheltered gringo's" understanding of our planet, and our government's role (for better or worse) in its future.
You'll also find Cameron Hewitt's on-the-street dispatch from Poland on that country's profound mourning of the Pope, a look at what travelers to Rome can expect this month, plus articles on kid-friendly Paris, a money-saving rail journey through the heart of Europe, a few of my favorite offbeat sights — and the happy news that American Airlines is funding our TV series for the next two years!
In our Travel Store this month, you'll find a plane-load of light-packing bargains, including a free Civita Day Bag when you buy a carry-on 21" Wheeled Bag or Convertible Carry-On .
In a few days I'll fly to Europe to spend seven weeks filming, researching — and learning — in Italy, Spain and Portugal. Maybe I'll see you there!
Happy (and thoughtful) travels,