The plane to San Salvador is decorated with holly and the duty free shops are giving out shots of rum. It´s thirteen days til Christmas. Almost no one deboards in El Salvador, I spot no guidebooks and only one passenger with skin freckled enough to double-check. Am I the only one? I admit I am here because I have to be but there is that underlying curiosity: what´s this place about?
The immigration official is frowning. ¨Tourism,¨ I say. After delving into my date of birth and profession he asks again, ¨What´s your reason for being here?¨
¨Tourism,¨I repeat. Is it that hard to believe?
He gives me 60 days grudgingly (the limit is 90). I mention, ¨Is the limit 90 days? Because you gave me 60.¨
¨Yes,¨he says, ¨it depends on the case.¨ I´ve barely landed and become a case. Interesting.
The customs guy was another story. After briefly glancing at my passport he slips in my name, ¨Tienes unos ojos muy lindos, Carolina.¨ Then he translates it for me. That´s what I like, as a former English teacher, a bilingual come-on.
¨Thankyou,¨ I say politely, still afraid someone will revoke my tourist card.
How long am I here for? ¿Tan poco? I have to press the button on the baggage traffic light, the traveller´s Wheel of Fortune.
¨Ah, te vas Carolina!¨ This is my welcome. He lets me go, out of the airport (clammy and swarmed at dusk by parrots) and into San Salvador.