Was invited by a co-worker to go with him to San Salvador, El Salvador. He has family and friends there. Just got back to the states yesterday. Just wanted to share my experience with everyone.
First of all and most importantly, as an American, English only speaker, you will not survive in this city if you can't speak Spanish. San Salvador doesn't base their economy on tourism so people there just don't go out their way to try to speak English to you. Everyone assumes you speak Spanish. Another words, don’t go there thinking that you’re going to have your American butt kissed, because you won’t. You will have to learn Spanish and assimilate into the culture rather quickly.
My friends family was so nice to me even though they knew I couldn't understand or speak a word of Spanish. Although, I could not converse with any of them, I have never felt so comfortable around people as I did during my visit.
The El Salvadorians have a strong since of family and friendship. It’s hard for me to explain but I’ll try. For example, My friend would be walking down the street and would start long conversations with complete strangers like they knew each other for years. (of course I was just standing there like a dummy). Another words, everyone talks to everyone. It’s just the way it is. No snobs, or phonies. The lawyers and doctors hang out with the waiters and security guards. Everyone is equal. Of course, just like anywhere else, you have the rich who live in gated communities, but they are few and far between.
Mostly everyone else is working class and unfortunately many are really poor. However, there does seem to be a growing middle class, as more students graduate from the University and start businesses.
I also met and hung out with a diamond named Lilyann - sort of resembled Angelina Jolie, but a little shorter with a fun and caring personality to die for. All I have to say on this topic is that my next wife will probably not be American – Enough said!
Anyhow, one month prior to my trip, I purchased the Rocket Spanish course and started studying. I learned some very basic words, but didn’t have time to learn enough to hold a conversation. My goal at this point is to master this course and possibly one other by next year. (My friend and me are seriously looking into buying a beach house there so when we go again next year, it’ll be for both business and pleasure)
My advice to all who are planning on visiting a Spanish country is to study and learn the language. Once you do, I think you'll find a home away from home.