El Salvador – Thank you for riding Taca airlines

I’m not sure how to continue with the stories from El Salvador since I already jumped around, but let’s go back to the beginning and see where we end up.

Me and the boys at Dulles airport before departing.

We arrived at the airport early and had no problem checking our luggage, (except that Suegra had over-packed, exceeding the alloted 50 lbs. per bag, and demanded we shove some of her stuff into our suitcases.) People watched us enviously as we skipped the long line and got into a special short line for those who had checked-in via the Taca website and printed boarding passes at home. (Highly recommended.)

While waiting at the gate, we ran into some very good family friends from El Salvador who, as it turned out, would be riding on the same exact flight as us. This may seem like a shocking coincidence, but I’ve gotten used to unexpectedly bumping into Salvadorans we know or who know someone we know. You ever hear of the 6 degrees of separation thing? I think that with Salvadorans, it’s probably more like 3 degrees.

The boys watching planes.

Before we got on the plane, I told the boys that when I was little and went on my first flight, the capitan gave me a little “wings” pin to wear on my shirt. The boys were excited by this idea and I assured them that I’d get them their “wings” even though Carlos said he doubted they still did this. When we finally boarded, I put my hands on the kids’ shoulders and told the pilot proudly in Spanish that it was my boys’ first flight. He answered, “Oh, sí?” and welcomed them aboard before turning to greet the next passenger. Carlos started laughing as he pushed me along towards our seats. Apparently they don’t give wings anymore.

This was actually not my oldest son’s first flight, but he was a baby when we went the first time, so it kind of doesn’t count. Both boys were really excited and I thought it would be special to get their reaction to their first take off on video. My younger son couldn’t stop laughing and my older son was pretty happy, too.

The flight was mostly uneventful after take off, besides some turbulence and a constant line down the aisle for the bathrooms, which I found odd. Every other flight I’ve been on, you have a few people get up to use the bathroom, but this line was half the length of the airplane for nearly the entire flight. (At one point, un viejito in a cowboy hat accidentally locked himself in the bathroom and a stewardess had to unlock it from the outside to let him out. That probably didn’t help the line situation either.)

Speaking of stewardesses, I couldn’t help but notice that nearly the entire flight crew were young, (handsome), Salvadoran men. In fact, one of the stewards gave me my first piropo of the trip. I sat in my seat obediently listening as they announced landing instructions. I happened to have a pair of sunglasses on top of my head and when he walked by he caught my eye and smiled. Pointing to my sunglasses he said, “Tiene que bajar los lentes para el aterrizaje.” (You have to lower your glasses for landing.) It was totally cheesy and made no sense, but he made me blush. As he laughed and then continued down the aisle, Carlos who had watched the encounter as he sat right next to me, cleared his throat and told me to behave.

Lunch on Taca Airlines.

You know, people always complain about airplane food, but we liked it. Arroz con pollo, (granted, it was heavy on the arroz and light on the pollo), cheese and crackers, potato chips, and a very delicious brownie. Obviously this meal wasn’t designed by a nutritionist, but it tasted good.

For entertainment, there was something on the television sets which I didn’t pay attention to because I was busy reading the magazine.

The Taca magazine included a bilingual crossword puzzle which I thought was super chévere.

After we landed and made it through customs, we were greeted by a Tía who picked us up in a van. While we loaded the luggage into the vehicle we were assaulted by pushy old women selling lottery tickets. Our second assault was only minutes away, when we pulled over to purchase agua de coco. Before the tires even stopped, we were surrounded by vendors shoving things through the windows such as bags of sliced mango and peanuts, agressively asking and then demanding that we buy them. The boys were completely wide eyed and unsure of what was going on. I, on the other hand, was just being way too polite with my very gringa-ish, “No, gracias” which made the vendors think they had a chance to wear me down and sell something.

The Tía who had picked us up in the van calmly purchased the few agua de cocos she had come for and then slid the window shut mercilessly saying, “Ya no,” with admirable finality, almost taking off the fingers of a young vendor.

The van pulled away from the side of the road and entered the unruly traffic. With the windows down I enjoyed the breeze, the scenery, and the sound of Salvadoran Spanish rising and falling around me. On our way to Soyapango, I tried to take in everything I could, the shacks, the green mountains, the brightly colored store fronts, the people riding in the beds of pickup trucks, and the graffiti on cement walls. While most of the graffiti was a tangled mess of gang tags, one particular piece caught my attention. On a wall off the side of the highway about ten minutes from the airport, someone had written a message for all the Salvadoran lost souls who had found their way back to their homeland: “Bienvenido a su patria, hermano salvadoreño.”


  1. I’m really enjoying reading about your trip. I loved the video of the take off, your son laughing and trying to pop his ears made me smile. How lucky are they to see and experience El Salvador! Very awesome! Can’t wait to read more!

  2. No se sobre Taca pero en Los Estados Unidos un azafato (una azafata) es Flight Attendant – no es Stewardess. No ha volado en mucho tiempo??? jejeje

  3. ayyy Taca Taca Taca! Lo que muchos Salvadoreños llamamos un Mal Necesario! Me alegro mucho saber que tuvieron un buen viaje y que hasta piropeada saliste! Eso de los lentes makes NO SENSE but then again… its Taca!
    Yep… my experiences with Taca vary from so-so to HORRIFIC! Rude, unprofessional, lack of knowledge, wrong attitude toward passengers and so on!
    But lets go back to the real important stuff… JAJAJA I still laugh when being “attacked” by lottery vendors as soon as you exit the airport only to encounter MORE vendors around the parking area: mango, charamuscas, garrapiñadas (candy-coated peanuts), bottled water etc. Salvadorans want to sell everything and anything to whomever! Sorry for that!
    Sorry to learn the boys didn’t get the TACA wings but they got a trip to remember a lifetime!
    Miss you all!

  4. BTW— en TACA a los aeromozos/as azafatas/os les llaman otra cosa…. pero no recuerdo!!! creo que Sobrecargos :/

  5. 1) So glad the boys had a good flght. I love flying and so do my kids. Hubby gets a bit nervous, but it always a cool adventure.
    2) So much of El Salvador sounds like parts and areas of Mexico, and yet, other parts are so different. I love mentally comparing the two.
    3) I have never heard of a “Steward” and was wondering if it is possibly an east coast/west coast thing?

  6. Tracy, welcome back! I’ve made a mental note to fly Taca. The one time I flew to South America I had the misfortune of having an all-female cabin crew. Boring. En serio, que perfume usas? ; D

    • Jajajaja – you think it’s the perfume? … I use “Warm Vanilla Sugar” from Bath & Body Works usually :)

  7. funny…three degrees of separation!! Yeah…too bad they could care less now if you fly. How cool you got wings. I can’t believe about J-lo and Marc…well I can but I can’t…what’d it say?
    I love your eye for detail…and the imagery you create in my mind with your descriptions…feels like I’m there with you.

  8. Wings for first-time flyers? Never heard of it!

    I flew Taca from Panama to Ecuador and I like it. I remember it as a friendly airline for some reason. And yes, we had arroz and pollo too.

  9. So glad you’re back! I love the video of your boys. What a great experience to capture on video. I was excited to see them so excited. :-) I also love the crossword puzzle. I wonder if they make crossword puzzle books like that somewhere as well – I’d totally buy them!
    I’ve also flown Taca to various countries in Central America and remember it for it’s residual Pollo Campero (or other pollo equivilant) smell. :-) Was there any fried chicken in boxes on the plane when you guys traveled back?!

  10. I’m glad no one video tapes me when I fly. I must look like a panting dog. HAHA!

    I love this part of the story…the good parts. The happy parts. I’m so happy for you guys!

  11. Salvadoran men!! So sexy and handsome. I’m married to one. My trip there wasn’t so nice. I found it dirty, hot, and miserable.

    • Would love to hear more about your trip. Where did you go in ES? What did you do? I had a rough time the first time I visited, but the 2nd one was the complete opposite.

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