El Salvador – El Boquerón

El Boquerón is the nickname of the crater of San Salvador’s volcano.

View of the San Salvador volcano from the pasarela in front of Hotel Real Intercontinental

Before we left for El Salvador I told Carlos I wanted to climb to the top of a volcano. He didn’t look enthusiastic. He told me he had gone with his classmates years ago and it was difficult. So I started walking each day, even running at times, trying to build up my endurance. If you know me, you know I’m not a runner. I’m a writer. I like to sit. And write. This just goes to show how much I wanted to climb the volcano.

Despite Carlos’s initial hesitance, I finally did convince him that we should go. As it turns out, he had no reason to worry. The Tourism Department of El Salvador has done a beautiful job making the volcano safe and accessible to tourists. You drive most of the way in your car on a paved road to a parking lot. Near the parking lot, there’s a small visitor center/museum with some information. (And there is even a public bathroom which is modest, but clean.) You pay a small fee to enter the path up to view the crater which was less than a 20 minute walk and not treacherous at all. Carlos said things were very different from the way he remembered them.

On the way up to the parking lot we saw a lot of school children in uniforms walking down the road. One teenager played with a capirucho as he talked with a friend. We stopped part of the way up at a scenic view and got out of the car. Apparently a family lives there and runs a restaurant on the same land. We climbed the steps to an elevated deck to take photos and the man told us, (not unkindly), that if we didn’t intend to buy anything, it was a dollar to take photos. I thought that was more than fair.

There was a tall wooden pole, and on top of it, Cipitillo's hat. (Cipitillo is a legendary character in El Salvador.)
The elevated deck had dichos hung up all over. This one is a little hard to translate but says something like, "Long live my mother-in-law, as long as she lives far away from me."
My younger son trying to sneak up on a chicken.

Back in the car, we drove up to the parking lot. There were a few chuchos aguacateros (street dogs), running around. The aguacateros at the San Salvador volcano probably hang around people a lot because they were much friendlier than their city cousins.

I heart him, and from his expression, I can tell he hearts me too. Look, he's saying, "Take me to the United States!" ... Carlos said no.

Everywhere we went vendors were calling out “Frambuesas!” [Raspberries!] I ended up buying some but we looked like crazy people, gathered around the bag, eating them with so much enthusiasm. “Oh my gosh!” my youngest son said in English with his mouth full of plump raspberries, “These are the best frambuesas EVER!” … and they really were.

(It crossed my mind that they hadn’t been washed, but none of us got sick.)

Even though they were the best frambuesas ever, my youngest son is kind-hearted and gifted one to the aguacatero.

He wasn’t interested.

After agucatero-petting and frambuesa-eating, we went into the visitor center/museum.

There was a wooden box full of typical attire. We tried some on and Carlos took our photo. When I saw the photo of us, I said to myself, “NO ONE MUST EVER SEE THIS!” – I wish I looked pretty in the traditional clothing, but I looked like a silly tourist.

Here is my younger son in traditional Salvadoran dress. He said he was going to pretend he was making soup for the photo, so that’s what he’s doing here.

At the visitor center/museum there was a guest book that I signed.

After we finished playing around, we started up the path to see the crater. The boys bounded ahead of us, leading the way. I managed to keep up with Carlos, but it took some effort. If I hadn’t been sick, it would have been a walk in the park, but since I had Guanaco Gripe, it wasn’t so easy.

Halfway up to the view of the crater, the path split. One sign pointed left, the other pointed right. One said “Difícil” and the other said “Fácil.” We stopped and stared at them.

“Which do you want to take?” Carlos said.
I looked at him sternly, one hand holding my aching ribs as I wiped snot from my runny nose on the back of my other hand, “Which do you think?” I responded.

A man crouched in the dirt nearby, tending to the plants that line the path.

“Disculpe la molestia,” [Sorry to bother you] Carlos said.
The man looked up.
“¿Cuál es más fácil? he asked him, pointing towards the paths and the signs. [Which one is easier?]

I looked at Carlos. What kind of question is that? The sign that says “EASY” is the EASY one! Before I could say something smart, the guy crouching in the dirt shrugged. “Son iguales,” he responded. [They’re the same.]

“Only in El Salvador,” I said to myself. We started up the one that said “Fácil” just in case.

When we finally made it to the top, we were very excited.

My younger son looked down into the crater and asked, “Where’s the lava?” … He wasn’t the only one who wondered though. A group of long haired surfer dudes arrived at the top a few minutes later wearing flip flops – not sure how they made it up the path like that. The surfer dudes, (who talked very surfer dude-ish), were some of the only other gringos I saw while we were in El Salvador.

While at the top, we also looked at the radio towers which, according to the security guard who was standing nearby, were used during the war by Radio Venceremos.

We walked back down a path to the parking lot, where a few vendors were calling out the items they were selling … One man selling frambuesas called to me several times. I smiled and waved, shouting out, “Ya compramos frambuesas más temprano y estaban bien deliciosas, gracias!” … [“We already bought raspberries earlier and they were delicious, thank you.”] Not only did the man fall quiet, but all the other vendors in the area did too. It was quiet for what felt like forever, though it must have been less than a minute.

Carlos stifled a laugh as we walked towards the car.
“What happened? Did I do something wrong?” I asked quietly.
“No,” Carlos said, “I don’t think they expected you to speak Spanish.”


  1. Great post! Oh and I loved the pic of you and ur boys dressed up. I thought it was a great picture, glad you shared with us. So glad I found ya, I love reading all ur posts. I feel like I took a trip to El Salvador. I’ve learned a lot and seen things I never would have… like this volcano… very cool!

  2. India Tracy!!!!! Bella te ves amiga! Me encantó el msg que dejaste en el libro de visitas. Gracias por querernos tanto a los todos los Guanacos y a nuestro paisito El Salvador!
    Sabes, nunca he ido al voquerón, y despues de este post, tenlo por seguro que nos daremos una vueltecita por allá.
    Que bello tu hijo al querer ver lava! GRACIAS A DIOS que no la hay. Te imaginas lava tan cerca de San Salvador uffff, horror.
    Todas las mañanas me despierto y admiro mi lindo volcán. Ahora cuando lo vea, me reordaré de uds y su visita (y de esas frambuesas)!!!

  3. hahahah….looks like you had a nice day, because you got a pretty clear view of the crater.

    BTW, I hope the following wasn’t done in the same order in which it was written:

    “After agucatero-petting and frambuesa-eating”


  4. When we climbed Volcan Agua in Guatemala, we got mugged on the way down. So I think that’s why we passed in San Salvador! :lol: But I think in 2001 it wasn’t recommended to go, I remember reading warning about it. Good thing it changed!

    I love the suegra sign :-)

  5. jajaja! Hermana, I’ve missed your blog so much… Have been so busy the last couple of weeks that I’ve had to settle for just glancing at your blog on my phone every now and agains… needless to say, I’ll be spending lots of time on it now catching up. Desde ya te aviso que la foto tuya como La India Maria has made my day. Gracias!!

  6. Cute picture of you and the boys. I love it!
    I also like the sign of La Suegra. You should see if you can find one like that (or make it yourself) to hang in your house. ;-)
    We hiked an active volcano in Guatemala (it was dificil!) and it actually had hot stones and lava. I just remembered thinking that in the US they would NEVER let people get that close, but in Guatemala it was no big deal. No fences, no paths, no warning signs. We saw a lot of people walk down with melted soles to their shoes, but it was more like a ‘badge of honor’ than anything else! :-)

  7. What a spectacular view!!! I don’t think I could have made it to the top! :P

    Love that sign! I bet you LOL’d when you read it.

    I think you looked pretty good in your India Maria Salvadoreña outfit. And your little boy looks too cute. :) Tell him I want some of that sopa he made. Or the recipe. :)

    My favorite part of this whole trip is that you left those vendors speechless!

  8. Que linda foto amiga!!! You look absolutely beautiful! Ya quisiera la India María to look a liiiiittle bit like you!
    You guys have digestive systems made of iron! You pet perros aguacateros and eat frambuesas de la calle… ay Dios mio! Jajaja! Pero que bueno que no les pasa nada!
    I said it before, and I say it again: I just love how much you enjoy every single thing in life.
    That´s why I love ya! ;D

  9. Another awesome post. Surprise! I too, have always been obsessed with visiting a volcano. Lol Great pics, great stories, and as always, a great ending. I love that you included the Suegra sign! I am so behind on all my blog reading so expect more sporadic comments on weeks-old posts!

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