A shrill goose, a fake lake, gunfire and French food… where else but El Salvador?


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Published: December 6th 2012
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Nothing but wonderful things can be said about arranging our ride through Twisted Tanya’s to El Salvador from Copan Ruins. Garnel, Tanya’s husband and father of their two children, personally drove us in his Ford Explorer. It was the BEST drive we have had so far and Garnel is a great guy! (We were sorry we did not get to spend more time with he and his wife.) The drive was about 5 hours from Copan, but the company was great. We all talked a bit of politics, history, and had some good laughs. It was very, very interesting. As for immigration, due to the way the road winds (and there was not a choice), we had to leave Honduras, enter Guatemala, leave Guatemala and enter El Salvador. Unfortunately, for commercial truck drivers, this is a slow and painful process - - it cannot be very efficient for business! However, we were not commercial traffic and Garnel simply drove around the half mile long line of semi-trucks. (We told you he was good!)

Once in El Salvador, we ate at “Biggest” for lunch. And yes, it is quite big! It is a fast-food restaurant with burgers and such – value meals and upsizing as well. El Salvador seems quite modern and in general, has good roads that include barriers so that you don’t go off the mountains. BONUS! Tanya and Garnel, thanks again to you guys for delivering Ann’s jacket the next day!!

Our hotel destination was Los Alemdnros hotel. We arrived in Suchitoto in the late afternoon. The town is small and its claim to fame is its art focus, a waterfall and huge Lake Suchitlan. However, the lake was made by damming up a river, so it is not truly natural (thus, fake). Suchitoto is in a lush valley and the views of the “fake” lake are simply incredible… we can’t tell it hasn’t always been there. Well, until they change the flow of the water during the day and islands appear out of nowhere! We went to sleep with nothing but clear lake and woke to find tons of newly appeared islands all over the lake.

We were given the best room in the place… well, it is not actually a room… and it is not actually in the hotel. We ended up staying in a small apartment on a road behind the hotel and boy is it something! See photos. The place is stunning, on the lake, with a private, but very cold pool and terrace. There is a separate sitting room from the large bedroom. The bathroom is ultra-modern with bowl sink and stone-floor shower. El Salvador does not provide drinkable tap water and toilet paper is, like Guatamala, not flushed. There are big wooden doors and a wood ceiling and beams. It gets really hot here, so the A/C is a very welcomed and pleasant surprise. There seemed to be just us and another couple were staying at the hotel, so the place was completely empty.

Our apartment is on a street behind the hotel, but not just any street! It is residential. During the day, there is music aplenty, dogs barking, kids playing, men working (a mechanic shop is across the street), street construction (sort of), and TV’s blaring. The best sounds are the shrill sounding, irritated as can be, goose across the street, the barking geckos, the whining dog who wants to be let in next door (but sounds like he is a stuck pig) and the gunfire. Also during the day, trucks drive around with loudspeakers trying to sell things (such as banking services) and also go door to door. As we write this, the same song has played next door for about 2 hours and Clay is going insane. It is not that it is a bad song… it is simply that it is a no sing song. Meaning that it is only thumping and nothing else is audible… no voices, no other instruments, and no change in the beat. Grrrrrr. At night, it is quiet, except for the goose, some roosters and the gunfire. (Once again, it’s part of the charm.)

We are right down the street from the “high-tech” police station. It is high-tech because they have a CB radio and a boat parked outside on the street. The boat doesn’t have an engine and one of the tires on the trailer is flat, but at least they have one! But, since we have been here, the poor policemen have had literally NOTHING to do. This town may be noisy, but there is not much going on. The people on the streets are very nice and say “Hello.” The kids are nice and the teenagers even bother to wave or say “hi” as well. Greetings are in Spanish, by the way.

The square is pretty empty except for 8 connected stalls that sell random items and some crafts. We are pretty sure that things get hopping on the weekends. The town is full of art galleries and all of the places have a focus on art. Our hotel is sponsoring some artist and has just opened its own gallery across the street. We saw the featured artist and we are not sure if the artist is male or female (neither the name nor the visual made it apparent), but it had crazy hair and very colorful, flowery, tight pants.

Our hotel is owned by a Frenchman and a Salvadorian man. The hotel is very artsy in a good way. They have a dog which is portrayed in artworks and seems to be the king. The hotel food is highly rated on websites and is a mix of French and Salvadorian – homemade pasta and mixed grilled meats. It is really well prepared and the service is truly impeccable. Our first night, we had Marcos for our server and he was really cool. See photos of food. They make a coconut sorbet here which is to die for!

Walking to and from dinner, we are able to peek inside the houses because due to the heat, the doors are open and because it is dark outside, the lights are on inside. This combination makes for great peeking! Families are cooking, eating and watching TV together. The houses are small and plain, but seemingly well-equipped. People do a lot of socializing and laughing outside, both night and day. During the day, there are stands with people selling fruit and food. We saw two attorney offices in town. There is a really nice big church under renovation.

Despite the noise around our room, the place is really relaxing out back, with the lake view, wicker furniture and cool breezes, it really is another little paradise. It gets really hot here, but we are only brave enough to dip our hot feet into the super cold pool. It feels good on the bug bites that we have both accumulated in the last few weeks. Some bites became a bit infected so we went to the farmacia and it was comical to communicate our need - - hydrogen peroxide, but we did get it!

We have finally had some time to catch our breath and have begun making Arabic flash cards and quizzing each other. Shakran is “thank you” and smitk is “name” (how funny that it is close to our last name!!!). Ann has now finished 5 books on Morocco history and culture and is presently reading about the history of Muslim veiling. Clay has mastered several video games, surprise, surprise and is on his fifth book about Morocco as well. We have had a TV in most accommodations, but we have not turned it on once. We are reading solely Morocco news in part to learn something and in part, to reduce stress caused by reading US news. This time away has been absolutely wonderful in that we have been able to study for our move to Morocco without feeling overwhelmed by other aspects of life. We are very grateful and feel very blessed by our circumstances. We learned today that everything is ready to go for our Peace Corps service - - passports are completed, our host family has our information, and we should receive our travel information in the next two weeks.

(For all of those who have Google Earth loaded on a computer, this small file is our complete travel history! You simply need to download it and open it... if you have Google Earth installed, it will open right up.)

https://www.dropbox.com/s/twbfr7jog9582na/November%20-%!D(MISSING)ecember%20-%!G(MISSING)oogle%!E(MISSING)arth%!F(MISSING)ile.kmz

Please let us know if there are any issues retrieving or using this file. Thanks!


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6th December 2012

Looks Great
Enjoy your time there!
6th January 2013

Suchitoto
Yes the coconut sorbet was great yesterday as were the llomos (filets) y camarones (prawns). Brenda and I visited with 4 Salvadorean friends from the beach who have property in Suchitoto as well as the city. The views from the private homes are panoramic and( as all water views ) are fantastic. I understand that the lake is polluted from the city as well as a number of small towns but I did not notice any odour. The only garbage was along the lake, none in the town. We will return for a short vacation from our paradise home at Playa San Diego in the future.

Tot: 2.795s; Tpl: 0.055s; cc: 11; qc: 50; dbt: 0.0442s; 2; m:saturn w:www (104.131.125.221); sld: 2; ; mem: 1.4mb