Much of what we have heard about El Salvador in the past has been from the civil war….(apparently the American Government supporting the El Salvadorian Government and the CIA the rebels..go figure…) but that was 20 years ago and the people and the county have moved on. There is an old CIA out post in the Gulf of Foneseca, which is 50 miles or so south of here and where El Salvador borders Nicaragua and Honduras.
Given the situation in the Indian Ocean with growing attacks on yachts, Central America will fast become a more favourable cruising ground. With yachts like Sarana spending considerable time down here, there will be more cruising information, inevitably attracting more and more yachts as sadly, many prefer the safety in numbers philosophy. Eric and Sheryl on Sarana (www.sailsarana.com) have put together a comprehensive cruising guide available in digital format for a very small fee.
Unlike its neighbours, El Salvador currently has very little tourism. Their main source of tourism happens to be yachts; good for us as it means low costs and great deals…like leaving Stolen Kiss here, under guard, for $100/month. We are also charged us $1 a day to be in the country, which is fine considering that most nations in the Indian Ocean all charge $100/month. Another bonus is that there are no drug problems here and the government is keen to keep the cartels out. Fingers crossed!!!!!
Whilst San Salvador is much the same as any city in the world with it s large shopping malls, the rural areas are very poor and traditional life prevails.
Now the struggle for survival is easing, the government is slowly moving to educate the people about rubbish; much the same as Australia until the 1970’s with the ‘Keep Australia Beautiful’ campaign.
Although Bahia del Sol is a little isolated, the estuary provides an escape from the hustle and bustle of the country side. The waterways are extensive and worthy of exploration……..
With a beautiful, long, peaceful beach; great for walks (by all and sundry) and surfing!
Herradura, a town 4 miles up the estuary offers one choice of obtaining fresh produce….
Cashew nuts trees grow wild and local families process what we enjoy! Very labour intensive and just as expensive as anywhere.
Along with mangoes, papaya, bananas......and in the hills..cocoa beans
Which brings us to an amazing story that the Mayans who gave the Spaniards some hot chocolate to drink and were saying that it was hot, which sounded like "chocolate" hence now the name!!!!
Whilst the town of Zacatecaluca (another ‘Z’town for us!!) is 1.5 hours by chicken bus, it is surely an entertainment!!
One of the local men came past and playfully slapped Peter on his bare knees and laughed as its only children who dress like we do in shorts ad shirts!!
Everything is for sale on the bus..ear plugs would be an advantage.
Piñatas are far more creative than Mexico…..
A busy town with colourful wares……
A visit to the wonderful Nevaria Icecreamery is a must….for Peter, before and after shopping!!
A traditional dish in El Salvador is the Papusa; a rice tortilla stuffed with meat, beans/cheese or spinach and cheese and cooked on a hot plate. Yum!!!! They are sold on the streets, on busses and everywhere else.
Staples include bread and rice while other food includes burgers and meats with rice and vegetables/salad. Seafood a plenty around the estuary!!!
A large proportion of the Salvadorian GDP comes from its people working in the USA, sending money home. During the civil war, many Salvadorians fled north and were (and still are) given refugee status in the USA and are therefore not considered as illegal immigrants. The people are gentle, kind and gracious, forever coming out to assist us (speaking English) as we struggle with our limited Espanol.
Geographically, neighbouring Guatemala has the largest number of Volcanoes in any country in the world, (a total of 33) but El Salvador being smaller, has the largest number of volcanoes/sq km. Quite a few are active! There are many earthquakes, especially out to sea along the plate boundary. In the light of Japan’s recent tsunami, this leaves us a little nervous. Surely one tsunami in one’s life is enough!
The World Hetitage archeological sight of Joya de Ceren, accidently discovered by a farmer working with a backhoe in the 1970’s provides an insight into just how extensive the Mayan ruins are and what is yet to be found.
The different layers of soil that can be seen here are indicative of the volcanic eruptions that have occurred to bury the ruins.
Strangely, no human remains were found….so what happened to the people who lived there?????
There is more than enough to keep us occupied as getting fresh supplies takes up most of the day. There is the pool to escape to in the afternoon heat....
The usual wifi available at the hotel (what did cruisers for before interent??)....and the marina....we use the term loosely as its bound together with bits of logs floating on plastic drums. Some of it broke free last year...but now apparently its tied to the bottom, which makes us wonder what would happen in the event of a storm surge????
...... our jobs list which is now varnishing the bare spots inside the boat (with Peter's wonderful patience when I forget which bits he has done!!)
...... and for me, helping out with English classes at the local school on the adjacent island.
Now we have palm trees…all we have to find is our white sandy beach!!
In the meantime there is more land travel and exploring to be had!