Cigars, moonshine, and torogoz stencils: Welcome to El Salvador.

Published: July 12th 2013
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View of Embalse Cerrón Grande, largest body of fresh water in El Salvador, from the park in Suchitoto
It feels a little weird to write a blog entry (or 4) more than a week after I returned. But, I’m too much of a perfectionist to stop the blog in the middle. So, I’m operating on the “better late than never” philosophy. Fortunately, I left little breadcrumbs of photographs and notes to retrace my steps into my memory. Some of the notes make total sense – like “church made from egg whites, manure, and soup bowls” reminded me of the creative building materials used for the main church in Suchitoto, and “old lady machete” reminded me of this super old woman on the side of the road walking with a machete. But, some of them are already lost in the backroads of my brain – like “when she’s flirting, she’s 87” or “santa lucia cut out her eyeballs” – they don’t ring a bell with the same clarity… Ah well…

So, when I last posted, I was reflecting on my time on “Pleasure Island”. That was awesome… Oh, the memories. Our next stop was Suchitoto, El Salvador, which was almost the exact opposite of the Surfing Turtle. It was quiet, quaint, everything closed

This is really how we are crossing the boarder?
by 5pm. The experience was decidedly more cultural and less indulgent. It was the perfect place to go next.

But… first, we needed to get there. Our travel from Nicaragua to El Salvador was, for me, one of the major highlights of the trip. It was another LONG travel day – like 13 hours (or at least that’s how long it was in my memory). We took a boat from the surfing turtle to the mainland. Then we took a private van (two actually) to the boarder. In what might be the most random border crossing ever, we then loaded onto a small boat. The boat operators suggested that we might want to put our personal items in trash bags, which should have been a sign to come. Because I’m tough (or an optimist… or clueless…) I almost said no to the trash bag, but thank good I took one. The next two hours can only be described as an ocean shower. It was like being on a ride at a water park for hours – we were drenched many times over. Also the water was SO salty that it made it hard

Ok! I'm game... at this point, I didn't realize how wet this ride was.
to keep our eyes open (we all looked stoned at the end), plus if you talked or laughed you were treated to a refreshing mouthwash of seawater. By the end, our skin could be used to season a meal and our clothes had salty white streaks in them. It was hilarious and torturous at the same time. And, it was definitely a once in a lifetime experience – material for stories for my grandkids someday.

We took a little break on an island in El Salvador – for lunch, drying out, and regrouping. Then, it was back on the boat. When we arrived on the main coast of El Salvador, we made a human luggage chain to get out suitcases off the boat (go team), got our passports stamped, and then it was back on another van. After several more hours of driving (including a stop for fast food in a place that, other than the fact that it was solamente español, felt weirdly like home), we finally arrived in Suchitoto. I went to bed right away.

We really only had the morning in Suchitoto, because

Happy travelers.
we were taking off again after lunch. But, we packed a ton into our morning. First, our awesome CEO treated us to a breakfast in the local market of papusas ( It’s a traditional Salvadoran dish that is so addictively delicious that I would be surprised if there was crack inside along with the cheese and beans. Then, I went on a walking tour of the city with a local guide. During the tour, we visited an old woman who has hand rolled cigars for decades. We learned about her life and she taught us how to roll them. (Ah ha! I remember that note. She told us that she was 93. Our guide said that she’s 93 “today”, but if she’s talking to a group of good-looking men, she shaves some years off her age. Haha. She was awesome). We also visited this place called the Cetro Arte para la Paz. It was a “healing space” – part museum, part art studio, part after school programming for children. It was amazing. I learned a lot of the history of the area – including the impact of the guerilla warfare. We saw a ton of kids who all practiced their English “Hello!” “Bye-bye!”. Suchitoto is not at all touristy. It was lovely, refreshing, and different. I loved it.

After our tour, we had a delicious, leisurely lunch, including complementary homebrewed moonshine. It was the type of drink that could put hair on your chest. Then, it was time to move on to our next location.

Additional photos below
Photos: 21, Displayed: 21



Our route... Good-bye Nicaragua, Hello El Salvador

Picturesque lunch break.

Time to try the local beer. Not as good as those in Nicaragua, but still refreshing. Like most of the Central beers, could be compared to Corona.

"Eva" before and after the lunch break. She was way more prepared after.

Gorgeous views.


Our local guide

Cigar lady. I heart her.

Peggy -- The nun who runs Centro Arte para la Paz

""In this house we want a life free from violence against women" and the national bird of El Salvador. Major feminist activity in Suchitoto.

The creatively made church.


Scotty, watching out as usual. I think here she's protecting us from a wasp.

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