Things You Can’t Buy in El Salvador


basil hayden, eagle rare, blantons, maker's mark, knob creek, four roses, woodford reserveI recently returned from a trip to DC and, as is customary among Foreign Service folk, stuffed my suitcases with random items ranging from bourbon to dry shampoo. In my nine months living in El Salvador, I’ve found that I can purchase most things I need locally — either in local grocery stores, markets and malls or at the commissary.And for the specific products that I can’t find in person, I can purchase online via Amazon Prime. But this blog post isn’t about those things. It’s about the exceptions.I should preface this by saying that if you can’t live without your favorite [insert brand-specific haircare product, organic food item or obscure designer clothing], then you’ll have a more difficult adjustment. That, or you’ll be making frequent trips home to stock up/accepting frequent stays from visitors bearing gifts.Which is exactly what Kail and I have done with a number of items on my Things You Can’t Buy in El Salvador list:basil hayden, eagle rare, blantons, maker's mark, knob creek, four roses, woodford reserve1. Bourbon. The commissary at the embassy does stock Maker’s Mark and Woodford Reserve, although the Woodford goes pretty quickly. And although there was NO BOURBON when we first arrived in September, we’ve been here for two large shipments of new goods since and the Maker’s Mark has lasted. That, coupled with various trips back to the U.S. (both by us and friends at the embassy) and visitors from the U.S., has resulted in the nice collection you see above.slow cooker butter chicken, crock butter chicken, butter chicken recipe, indian food recipe2. Certain spices. I recently shared a recipe for Slow Cooker Butter Chicken and mentioned that I ordered some spices through Amazon Prime. I’m not 100 percent sure that it’s impossible to find Indian spices (specifically, Tandoori Masala and Garam Masala) in El Salvador. It is not available in Super Selectos, the main grocery store, but I did not check the local oriental supermarket chain or other markets. Given that the first Indian restaurant just opened this year, I doubt the spices are available locally.oscar blandi dry shampoo, dry shampoo spray, dry shampoo powder3. Dry shampoo. So I don’t consider myself high-maintenance (others, such as my husband, might beg to differ) but am guilty of having one brand-specific haircare product that I can’t live without: Oscar Blandi Pronto Dry Shampoo. Shampoo/conditioner, hair spray and other styling products … I can use whatever brand is available. My dry shampoo supply was running low so I thought I would buy more from Sephora when I was in DC last week. Unfortunately both the Georgetown and Pentagon City locations were out of the powder version, so I had to branch out and test out the Dry Shampoo Spray, which so far is working out well.women's vitamins, gummy vitamins, calcium chews, viactiv, vitafusion, one a day women4. Women’s gummy multivitamins. Yes, gummy vitamins. But for adults, not children. One A Day brand multivitamins upset my stomach (even taken with food), so instead I take Vitafusion Women’s Gummy Vitamins, which I haven’t seen in local stores but which I’ve been able to buy online via Amazon Prime. I haven’t yet had to replenish my supply of Viactiv calcium chews so I’m not sure whether those are available locally.refresh tears, eyedrops, natural tears eye drops5. Eye drops. Eye drops and contact solution are available locally, but in most cases are way more expensive than they are in the U.S. I specifically like Refresh Plus individually packaged/single-use eye drops, which are meant to be equivalent to natural tears.We’re lucky here in El Salvador to have local access to many products and online access to shipping via the DPO (Diplomatic Post Office — much faster than the Diplomatic Pouch, which is the only option available at many posts). As for everything else, there’s a reason I just bought this digital luggage scale from Brookstone.What products can you not live without? Is there anything that’s difficult to purchase locally where you live?

Published by La Vie Overseas

I'm Natasha -- writer, runner and wife to a Foreign Service Officer with USAID. Current location: Frankfurt, Germany.

8 thoughts on “Things You Can’t Buy in El Salvador

  1. You can’t find bourbon usually at the supermarket but liquor stores do carry it, check out cheer’s, its located by Redondel Masferrer close to the DHL offices (across the street from HUNAN restaurant). They carry woodford, elijah craig and Jim Beam as well as a couple tennessee whiskies


    1. Oh thanks for the tip! I actually have never been to Cheers but I live nearby so I should check it out. I have looked on their website and did not see bourbon but of course the in-store inventory might be different. I won’t need to be shopping anytime soon but when I do, I know where to go. 😉


    1. No, but I’ve heard about it! One of my Salvadoran friends says there is a place in Ataco, “next to the store with the blue cat mural outside,” that serves Chaparro that in his view is acceptable to serve to his wife (a gringa). What is your opinion?


      1. Well I bought a bottle in the supermarket a few months ago from a brand called Flor de Fuego, they have it in most Super Selectos. Its about 15 dollars, and its fairly good quality. I came up with a cocktail for it, imagine you’re making a whisky sour, just change out the whisky with chaparro and add a dash of grenadine syrup and garnish with a sugar cane stick (most Selectos have those as well). Its pretty darn refresing, beachy nice cocktail.


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