Suchitito, Textiles, Make our own indigo scarves


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Published: April 10th 2014
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Up early, and came out to watch the lake in the morning as our hotel sits on the cliff, get caught up on my blogging and listen to a parrot repeat Ola over and over and over and over and over again. Ah, welcome to El Salvador:-)

Had a great breakfast, and then we all piled into the vehicle to head to the Indigo Farm owned and operated by Dona Rina. It was only about 20 minutes away from Soshitito and typical roads. Arrived and went for a tour around her farm; really is quite majestic. She is a small run business, creating indigo (which in itself would take forever to explain on a blog - let’s just say it is an incredible tedious, long arduous process.), and grows cashew fruits, has turmeric flowers (which are only ornamental) and other things. She creates a total of 400 kg at $125USD per kg per day which earns her 60,000 USD per year to run the entire farm. She could sell 10 times that amount if she could produce it. I got the impression that she wanted to keep it that way where a lot of people couldn’t understand why she didn’t
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Explaining what she produces on the farm
want to hire more staff to produce more. She is incredibly proud of her work, of her indigo and she did stress that she prefers quality over quantity. I really enjoyed the time there as she was so proud of her farm, had inherited it from her father and could see the love that she feels for it was so strong.

We then got to dye our own scarves which in itself is another process. Basically you choose the pattern you want by twisting it a certain way, adding rocks or other objects inside of it, elastic bands and so forth. You then stuff it in-between 2 plastic plates, tie them up and submerge it in the dye for 3 minutes, 3 times with 3 minute breaks in-between. Then take it out of the plates and see if you want to keep what is white. it’s really interesting as it first comes out green, and then it starts to oxidate and it turns it indigo. Really a lot of fun, dressed up in plastic aprons, huge rubber gloves and dipping away.

I had to laugh; Janice (fellow Canadian from Kelowna) and I were chatting about decorative items and looking for the word “ornamental” and out came “Oriental” from Janice’s mouth. We burst out laughing and that became the catch phrase for the rest of the day. Later in the afternoon on our city tour a group of Japanese were wandering around the town, and Janice came and found me with huge excitement and said “Ned you MUST come see this, hurry!” - and around the corner I ran and discovered the group of “ornamentals”. HA. Maybe you had to be here to appreciate the joke, but bonds are so quickly built when you are traveling together and that is now our favourite catch phrase, and use it whenever we can.

We then had a delicious homemade lunch of pupitos which is a traditional El Salvadorian Dish, of a soft corn tortilla stuffed with a variety of things, in this case was fresh cheese and a vegetable similar to spinach. They are then fried over a BBQ styled heating, and you top with cabbage, tomatoes and onions (similar to pico del gayo but no cilantro) and a nice semi sweet sauce. Delicious!! We also got to try hibiscus flower iced tea - and that was an incredible treat.
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Yes, you can eat the fruit, and roast the stem which is where the cashew nut is. (Poisonous raw)
So refreshing, so tasty that I purchased a bag of the dried flowers and am going to make it at home for the summer time. I got the instructions in my head, and hope I can make it taste as good as she did as it was incredibly refreshing!

It was a truly pleasant experience, a beautiful setting, wonderful weather, heart warming hosts with huge smiles on their faces that you knew came from their hearts. Dona Rina went to school in Switzerland, met her husband Dieter from Germany and they fell in love and eventually moved back to El Salvador. She had studied marketing so while very intelligent and business smart; loved her home country and her father, and it makes for such an amazing setting. For those of you who know my current job it was the perfect example of a Be My Guest Experience:-) (Perhaps one day we will add Guatemala)

Headed back to Suchitito afterwards and off to the hotel, and decided to do our City Tour. We were picked up by Renee, a local El Salvadorian (with a French name) and got to ride in the back of a pick up truck, standing up, just like the locals. Love moments of hanging (literally) like a local:-) We started off at the (non) existing waterfalls of Cascada los Tercios just outside of town. What makes the area so interesting, as in dry season there is no waterfall is it is made of the basalt hexagonal rocks just like the Giant’s Causeway, but in a jungle setting. What a great experience that was as well. good steep walk down to get to it, and what a great setting. Hung out there for a bit, just enjoying the silence, nature and the calm peaceful air around it.

I’ve been eating a variety of fruit directly from the trees here, sadly I can’t keep track of the names of all of them, some I love, some I could do without, and some are not ripe and I think our local guides are giving it to me to watch the faces I make. Regardless it’s always fun to be able to try things like that, despite some ‘doctor’s orders’ meh - haven’t been sick yet:-)

The city tour was incredible, some old Spanish colonial houses that were literally a square block. Massive houses, that are now
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Wetting the scarf first, wrapped up in the plastic plates before dropping in indigo
converted into stores, schools etc. We went into a community centre that is all run by volunteers to educate, train and teach the children about crafts, music etc. school is only half days (either morning or afternoon) and this community centre was a great place for the kids to come afterwards instead of wandering around the streets and learn about different crafts. it all depends on the volunteers at the time, so when we were there someone was taking violin lessons.

Then Renee sat us down and gave us some history on El Salvador - including the gorillas war and everything else. Really a fascinating history that I’m not sure I can do it justice. I love learning about things this way - had you asked me a week ago to read a book on El Salvador’s history and I would have passed. But having someone explain it to you summarily in about an half hour with anecdotal stories included and personal experiences makes it much more interesting. a lot of death, a lot of war between the government and the gorillas and eventually they were able to create a peace treaty and ironically enough; working together to protect the country.

in Sushitito specifically there was this gentlemen called Alejandro Coton who was a rich eccentric gentlemen who loved music and arts, and still has one of the largest private art collection in all of Latin America (he’s 85 now with failing health). He had donated a lot of money to the community and such, and had a brother in the army. His brother phoned him and warned him that in 48 hours Suchitito will be bombed, and to get out. He pondered what to do about this, and contacted the Orchestra San Salvador to come and perform in the city. He then contacted a bunch of international generals to join the event, and long story short, they didn’t get bombed simply because everyone important was there. What a brilliant man to deal with a horrible situation and come up with the best way to deal with it! He has a theatre there, he has put so much money into the city and really encouraged the arts and music - was very interesting story.

Turns out that Renee owns a restaurant so we had dinner there; I ordered a bowl of black bean soup and a salad
Larry Larry Larry

Awesome teddy bear apron for the cool guy on the block!
and it was delicious! SO much food, but man it was amazing:-) I’ve been very lucky so far with food. Lots of fresh fruit (which I knew would happen) but also fresh salads every day and this vegetarian is happier then a pig in poop (love that analogy!!) It had been a full day so we headed back to our hotel and packed up and crashed. El Salvador was a long process to get to, but was worth the drive.

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ArtistArtist
Artist

hand painted on jeans sewn together - about 5 feet tall!
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El Salvador

Gorilla War history
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Mom and daughter

Daily errands
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Statue

In honour of Alejandro Coton, statue in the main square


15th April 2014

Awesome!
Hi I read your blog about Suchitoto and I enjoyed it. I am actually originally from El Salvador, from the east side of the country. I noticed you keep saying Gorillas to refer to the revel group that fought the government, but really the word is 'Guerrilla'. It is a word that comes from 'Guerra' which is Spanish for 'war'. the food you describe made of stuffed corn dough with cabbage slaw is called 'Pupusa' and I think you had the 'Loroco' kind. Very very tasty, reading your blog made me wish I were there too enjoying that scenery town. Thank you for sharing :)
14th April 2015

Another cool spot to visit near Suchitoto
For the traveler looking to get off the tourist track, eat tasty food, meet welcoming people, and visit historical and natural sites El Salvador is a must visit. I spent 6 wonderful weeks there and was very happy with all my experience. The small mountain town of Cinquera was a particular treat. Close to the tourist destination Suchitoto, Cinquera is a small, tranquilo (calm) community perfect for a tourist looking to rest and rejuvenate in a beautiful place. The local community organizing and development organization, the ARDM, has a variety of tourist ventures that make visiting Cinquera comfortable and interesting. Their hostel is affordable, cool, and quiet with hammocks on lovely shaded porches. Attached to the hostel is a delicious restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner to locals and travelers alike. Over the week that I spent there the food never failed to satisfy. Cinquera is also home to a beautiful Ecological Park. The tour of the park is well worth its $10 price tag. Over the course of a couple of hours knowledgeable local guides take you to see beautiful vistas, historic sites, and explain various ecological features. With extensive focus on the history of the civil war in this community I left this tour with an increased appreciation for the human and natural history of this place. Other tourist attractions include an iguana farm, butterfly exhibit, and historic museum. There are also several local artists that make beautiful artisan crafts, including a woman named Ivette who makes incredible (and super affordable!) jewelry. All and all Cinquera has a wide variety of things to do and ways to stay entertained. It’s also incredibly safe in a country known for not always being the safest place to visit. I spent many nights sitting in the town square and wasn’t ever bothered at all. If you take time to visit Cinquera you’ll be sure to enjoy it! The ARDM’s website has lots of helpful information and is: http://ardm.org/

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