San Salvador city center consists of a grid of bus-choked streets surrounding two open squares. There are a couple of cathedrals and loads of pigeons. Here you can see some of the few remaining old colonial buildings, partitioned at street level into tiny electronics shops and pharmacies and such. Against all of the buildings are lean-tos and escaped market stalls made of wood, black plastic, and corrugated metal sprawling out from the official confines of the mercado. They take up every spare inch of sidewalk and extend into the streets, making walking a nerve-jangling experience with all the taxis and busses rushing past. There are people absolutely everywhere, no foreign tourists that we ever saw, and a lot of good pupusas to be had.
Our favorite thing about the city center is the Iglesia El Rosario, the most atypical cathedral I’ve ever seen. It is a huge cavernous building shaped sort of like an up-ended tuna can half submerged in the ground. From the outside, it just looks large and weird. And very very dirty. The inside, however, is amazing. Embedded in the concrete structure are thousands of shards of colored glass arranged by color and reflecting off the walls and floor into the dim interior. Inside it is cool and there is a dull roar from all the traffic outside punctuated by loud echoing creaks and bangs from the doors closing, benches being dragged around, or whatever. All the religious iconry has been welded together out of scrap metal. Angels with wings made of hundreds of rusty nails, sprocket halos over tangled-wire faces.