Ruta de las Flores, El Salvador

Ruta de las Flores, or route of the flowers, is a road in El Salvador that runs through multiple picturesque, colonial towns and is semi hidden along the Apaneca hills. El Salvador is home to a number of different ethnic groups, such as the Nahaus and Aztecs, and many of these ethnic groups represent towns along this route. We traveled on this route on our last full day in El Salvador today.

We stopped in two towns along the way: Nahuizalco, where there was a very vibrant fresh produce market. In Nahuatl, Nahuizalco means “The 4 Izalcos,” as the town was originally founded by four families from the town of Izalco. The buildings were quite colorful here, and we stopped to have a mini lunch of rice, marinated beef in a tomato sauce, and some freshly made pupusas; we also stopped in Juaya, whose name in Nahuatl means “River of Purple Orchids.” There was a big food festival happening here when we came today, so we ate a big plate of carne asada, veggies, and pupusas (of course) on the street and had some freshly blended pineapple juice here. We also managed to escape a torrential downpour that lasted for a good portion of our meal since we were eating under a tent!

Our last stop before headed back to San Salvador was at a coffee farm and cafe that our hotel manager had recommended to us called Entre Nubes. The hotel manager said he hadn’t been there yet, but a friend had told him about it. It’s a huge restaurant cafe with a coffee farm/garden attached to it where they serve full breakfast and lunch meals, as well as endless coffee drinks. They also do coffee tours upon request, which we did. While the coffee tour walk was a bit underwhelming since the coffee beans were just sprouting, it was interesting to hear the process of coffee beans from plant to bean in El Salvador and how different it is vs. other parts of the world. Back in the 1970s, El Salvador was once the largest global exporter of coffee. Today, it stands as number 19 for coffee exporters, but it definitely does not make the coffee less tasty. There are three major varietals of arabica beans that they produce: bourbon (the majority), pacas, and pacamaras, the last of which is a hybrid of the pacas and maragogipe beans. Bourbon is the fruitiest and most acidic of the three; pacamaras has a fruity aroma and a rich, complex coffee-like flavor. we tried three different types of coffees at the end of the tour, and we liked the Pacamaras black honey one the best.

We also visited Cafe La Casona in the San Benito neighborhood of San Salvador the day before, which also had a full food menu and a pretty extensive list of coffee drinks as well as all the possible coffee brewing preparations. Coffee is definitely very serious here in El Salvador, and it was a delicious experience to be able to taste multiple times during our trip.

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