We followed the scent of corn tortillas crisping on the griddle. It was our first day in El Salvador and we’d been dreaming of pupusas–the country’s signature dish. The outdoor grill was run by three women, one shaping the dough into palm-sized circles, another folding in filling like cheese, veggies, and beans, and the third cooking them with frequent flips of a spatula. Being my normal inquisitive and brazen self, I asked in Spanish, “What’s the secret to the perfect pupusa?” They looked at each other and smiles crept across their faces. The woman in her late 30s, Silvia, handed me a ball of dough. “Follow me,” she said. Normal production at their road-side restaurant was going on hold—this was important.
El Salvador, marred by its reputation as the founder of the international MS-13 gang and known to be “the murder capital of the world,” is a country that doesn’t get many tourists. Though no matter how many “bad guys” live here, there are millions of people who just want the chance to share their kindness. Silvia said, “Press the dough from the middle outwards to spread the ingredients, then pat it flat.” Her demo pupusa was quickly turning into a silky circle and mine, a lumpy Frisbee. She was trying not to laugh, though when I giggled—it was contagious. With her magic wand of a finger, she smoothed mine out and put it on the grill for a true taste of El Salvador.
We shared this pupusa experience on Instagram Stories, followed by glowing posts of El Salvador’s dramatic volcanoes, charming colonial villages, Mayan ruins, and some of the coolest surf beaches we’d ever encountered. Then we got a direct message from Juan, saying “I’m Salvadoran and you make me proud of where I’m from. Thank you.”
#ITravelBecause we love giving places with a bad wrap, a good name.
Note: The HoneyTrek #ITravelBecause series is inspired and sponsored by Allianz Travel. Get yourself some travel insurance and get out there!