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Santa Ana El Salvador

Cozy Sundays in Santa Ana, El Salvador

San Salvador-based writer Patricia Trigueros heads into the misty highlands of her country to check out the cooler climate of Santa Ana, El Salvador. This article contains affiliate links, where we make a small commission if you purchase anything after clicking, at no extra cost to you. 

Any time of the year, the mountains of my tiny country, El Salvador, call out with the promise of fresh air and cold weather.

If you head west to Guatemala, you’ll pass through Santa Ana and Sonsonate, before reaching the high altitudes around towns like Juayua, or Concepción de Ataco.

Waking up in Ataco

We were driving to Santa Ana but also wanted to take our time. I was comfortable one morning in Concepción de Ataco, in the department of Ahuachapán. It can get cold up in the coffee-growing mountains, this time of year.

I can’t remember where we stayed or what we did the night before, but for sure it was to prepare for that wonderful feeling of sleeping in, snuggling under layers of sheets and covers. Our room was tiny, and you could hear the drizzling rain outside.

“What did you do?”, someone asked. In all honesty, nothing eventful. We read in the morning and over breakfast I wrote while he sketched. We watched something on Netflix—a movie? a series?—until it was time to check out. You can tell how the clouds move and hug the mountains, from there.

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On the road to Santa Ana

The drive from Ataco to Santa Ana is almost as cozy. Green mountains surround you the whole way down. You can see the shape the trees make when they surround the coffee plantations. You can taste the fog that sticks to the windows of your car.

There are interruptions though. Like stopping for a dip at the Cascadas de Don Juan. How cold is too cold, on a chilly Sunday?

I’ll hang by the rocks, before continuing the ride, saying hi to all the mountains. We can stop for snacks in town, we can hit up a convenient gas station. I’ll suggest we make a stop in Chalchuapa. I never tire of snacking on yucca in front of the archeological ruins of Tazumal.

Comfort food and go-to places

And then, as we negotiate the chaotic roundabouts that encircle the city of Santa Ana, we decide today’s a good day for pizza.

So we drive to the center of the city, bow in front the theater – because we respect its 19th-century architecture – and walk to the terrace of Simmer Down. They said we’d like it and they were right.

We scoff down Hawaiian, thin-crust pizza; thick garlic knots, and also slices of pizza prosciutto and arugula, because why not? The restaurant, busy even on a Sunday, serves good food with a side of postcolonial views. The cathedral is next to us, whitewashed, a sign of renovation and preservation of the Neo-Gothic, once-grayish structure. Ain’t it nice when you can just relax in Santa Ana? Not every rainy day is this eventful.

Coffee then home

There’s one last (very important) thing we need to do before we go – we can’t miss out on Pastelería Ban Ban. This bakery is as much a Santa Ana landmark as the cathedral and the theater. We walk in a rush and clash with the slow Sunday ritual of locals having coffee and pastries. Let’s have a little of everything… peperechas are a must. The joy of Salvadoran pastry crumbs, with coffee, is coming home to San Salvador with me.

And if you want to seal your Sunday with pupusas, there are some great spots. Try something different like garlic and cheese filled pupusas. Take them home with you. You’ll be hungry again soon.

I almost make the trip for the scenery alone. Between Santa Ana and San Salvador, before the valley of Zapotitán, the trees and leaves let you see virginal landscapes, mysteries that don’t appear on the maps.

If you make the trip, keep your eyes open and look out the window. You don’t want to miss the rocky outcrops.

Patricia Trigueros is a free spirit, writer, and translator from El Salvador. She has the habit of drinking too much coffee and writing in English, French, and Spanish. Check out her blog or follow her on Twitter and Instagram

Patricia Trigueros

Patricia Trigueros

Patricia is a free spirit, writer, and translator from El Salvador. Has the habit of drinking too much coffee and writing in English, French, and Spanish. She works as a freelance consultant. Studied French Literature in l'Université de Bordeaux and Integrated Marketing Communications in Escuela de Comunicación Mónica Herrera. When not traveling, she lives in San Salvador, El Salvador.