June 24, 2011

El Salvador, part 3

Filed under: travel — Frederick Noble @ 2:18 pm Share RSS

breakfastToday’s breakfast includes tamales with beans, some fruit-filled cookies, and the same ol’ coffee. The hotel varied things just enough to make it worth sticking around, even though there was a very tasty pastry shop just down the block.

Back on the bus for another trek. El Salvador, or “Salvador” as the locals say, is small enough that you can see a lot of the country in only a few days. Pretty soon, those twisting roads through the forests, coffee plantations and sugar cane fields all look the same.

balancing actOne frequent sight – a woman balancing a load atop her head. We saw everything from firewood to clothing to jugs of water being hauled down highways and up mountains. Impressive.

Today’s journey took us to another volcano, this one sans lake. After a drive up the mountain, we found a small national park – new since my family’s last visit. Older guidebooks will warn you to take an armed escort or ask the local police to walk you up. These days it’s safer, thanks to the armed guards at the gate. And it’s worth the short hike up the hill. Check out the view! Note: some browsers automatically resize the image. Put your cursor over the picture to zoom in.

volcano towerRadio and cellphone towers dot the edge of the rim. If I recall correctly, this is the one that blew up back in 1917. It once had a lake, but that disappeared and was replaced by the little cone you see in the bottom. You can hire a knowledgeable guide to take you down but we were warned we shouldn’t try it alone (we didn’t have time regardless.) Parts of some of the trails down require ropes.

Instead, we trekked along the rim to find a little bridge leading to a cafe.

volcano cafe

volcano cafe

We sat and had a beer until we heard the family catch up, then trekked back to the bus. You don’t want more than one or two beers here anyhow…

volcano trail

Back on the bus to the next adventure – zip-lines through a coffee plantation! It was that or lunch. Tough choice, I have to admit, but how many times do I get the chance to fly along steel cables hundreds of feet above the forest? A few family members remained behind to dine while the rest of us geared up and rode the truck up the hill to the first stage.

zip line

They started off only a few feet above the ground, but stage-by-stage things got higher and faster until you couldn’t see the other end of the line from the launch point.

zip line

zip line

zip lineThe view was impressive. Unfortunately, you’re supposed to keep one hand on the harness and the other on the cable to use as a brake, leaving you no hands free for foolish camera usage. Next time I’ll strap it to my chest and shoot a video. Yeah. Next time…

Fortunately, someone thought to grab us a pile of papusas to go, as we had to rush back to the city to get ready for the big To Do that night.

papusa

Unfortunately, the To Do coincided with Gold Cup Soccer – El Salvador vs. Panama, if I recall correctly. She Who Shall Not Be Named, degenerate JN and I snuck out to the lobby bar to catch up on the action.

gooooooooooooooooooooooool

dinnerThe party was packed, with something like 30 unexpected extra guests. The Hotel Interncontinental served up a pretty good plate of ravioli as an appetizer.

The main course featured both chicken and beef, neither fantastic but both edible. An open bar and mostly live music (Las Hermanas Sweeney, I think they were called) rounded out the affair.

prizesBut the highlight of the night was the never-ending raffle in which everyone won a prize. And what prizes! I won a miniature bible keychain.

Degenerate JN won a set of toenail clippers with a lit magnifying glass attached – handy for reading my bible!

prizes!

The Sweeneys and/or mariachis and/or DJ kept the party moving. The crowd on the dance floor ebbed and flowed, though I couldn’t seem to get enough liquor in me to lubricate my hips. Next time…

dance

dance?Eventually we retreated to the lobby to find we weren’t the only ones who weren’t feeling the Latin groove. Most of the younger set in our family were lounging on couches, half asleep. Some of them had come from as far as Germany for the trip.

Sometime after midnight, we corralled the crew back to the bus. We had another long day ahead of us.

Next episde – a long day at the beach, with rum-filled coconuts and fresh fish.

Next: part 4

Previous: part 2

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