Bahia De Jiquilisco-


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Published: June 21st 2011
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Yesterday the ground was alive, grass glowed, the fish gave me a pedicure and the tides paced the day.
<a href="http://www.whatsupelsalvador.com">living in El Salvador</a>
My husband´s 42nd birthday was a good excuse to take a short trip. So we packed up an overnight bag and headed out with our 5-year-old daughter and her little dog Freddy to the Bahia de Jiquilisco.

The Bahia de Jiquilisco is located in the southwest in the department of Usulutan in south-eastern El Salvador. The drive time would have been about an hour an a half from San Salvador, but with traffic jams getting out of the city, and the cattle jams as we got closer to the bay it was quite a bit longer.

Entering the region we found the air was thick, heavy, and hot. After crossing bridges over streams and rivers, we turned of CA2E toward the coast, and onto a road I can best describe as a 9 mile gauntlet of pot-holes and cattle herds, heading straight for the water.

To be honest, I kind of liked it. Waiting for herds of cows managed by 8-year-old boys on mountain bikes is just not that annoying. Most of the kids seemed borderline interested in us and said, “hello” (not hola) as we drove by. I guessed the area gets enough tourism that they take an interest, and not enough where they are bothered by the cars and repetitive questions.

I was delighted to find my directions were outdated. At the point the map showed a left turn onto a dirt road, we found a very smooth, newly constructed one. We traveled through deep green fields with many of the homes elevated on stilts. It was a different shade of green for my eye, I got lazy just looking at the color.

We arrived at our hotel Puerto Escobar prepared for a nice tropical weekend, full of splashing in the pool, boat-rides and good food. What we got was a surreal version of that same expectation.

The hotel Puerto Escobar has decadently lush grounds. Everything around is lush. There is a nice swimming pool, several nice covered seating areas and friendly people running it. My limited Spanish was sufficient to communicate the basics, and have some short conversations, but not enough to fully understand some longer explanations of the Bahia as a whole. I think the manager had a lot to tell me that I only sort of got.

Standing on the little beach behind the restaurant with my daughter gazing across the bay, I found mysef wondering who was cooking over an open, crackling flame, and when would I smell it. A few minutes later my eyes drifted down. I realized the crackling was actually a veritable mine-field of thousands of little fiddler crabs snapping away at each other while popping in and out of their holes like little jack-in-the-box toys.

If you stand still in a field of angry crabs, they don´t pay you much mind if you are fairly still. I´d only seen these little guys waving their big display claws at rivals on National Geographic, but here they were at my feet. They seemed loud, because they bay is otherwise pretty quiet.

We headed into the water, and my daughter and I were delighted to find the hard part about standing in the water there, was trying to avoid standing on another kind of crab! The shallow water is litterally a carpet of hermit crabs in ornate conical shells. This all sounds kind of creepy if you aren´t a nerd like me, but the water was surprisingly clear and clean, and the crabs were actually adorable. And the sand was very nice and smooth.

I got used to them crawling across my feet, and to the very small fish that came and nip at my toe-nails, giving me a mermaids manicure. Standing in the water, looking back toward the hotel, I saw the entire ground moving just like the ground I stood on, crackling, growing, fighting with life. Mangrove roots shot up through the sand. The roots of more developed trees were like tiny metro-centers elevated from the sand and water, buzzing and humming with industry.

As the sun set, the water retook the entire beach and covered the previously fully exposed trees to the top few branches. The sea arrived at the top step of the hotel´s staircase. It was a good time for a nice meal.

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Posted by: Nanelle

Nanelle is a 43 year old former Ballet Dancer and Police Officer. Join her on their move to El Salvador, as they head through customs, find a home, enjoy daily living and explore the country; advising you all the way. Living life in El Salvador as American expats and loving it.
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Posted on: June 12, 2011
Posted in: El Salvador Unique, Things To Do
Comments: 5 Comments
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Bahia de Jiquilisco-The Ground is Alive
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Yesterday the ground was alive, grass glowed, the fish gave me a pedicure and the tides paced the day.

My husband´s 42nd birthday was a good excuse to take a short trip. So we packed up an overnight bag and headed out with our 5-year-old daughter and her little dog Freddy to the Bahia de Jiquilisco.

The Bahia de Jiquilisco is located in the southwest in the department of Usulutan in south-eastern El Salvador. The drive time would have been about an hour an a half from San Salvador, but with traffic jams getting out of the city, and the cattle jams as we got closer to the bay it was quite a bit longer.

Entering the region we found the air was thick, heavy, and hot. After crossing bridges over streams and rivers, we turned of CA2E toward the coast, and onto a road I can best describe as a 9 mile gauntlet of pot-holes and cattle herds, heading straight for the water.

To be honest, I kind of liked it. Waiting for herds of cows managed by 8-year-old boys on mountain bikes is just not that annoying. Most of the kids seemed borderline interested in us and said, “hello” (not hola) as we drove by. I guessed the area gets enough tourism that they take an interest, and not enough where they are bothered by the cars and repetitive questions.

I was delighted to find my directions were outdated. At the point the map showed a left turn onto a dirt road, we found a very smooth, newly constructed one. We traveled through deep green fields with many of the homes elevated on stilts. It was a different shade of green for my eye, I got lazy just looking at the color.

We arrived at our hotel Puerto Escobar prepared for a nice tropical weekend, full of splashing in the pool, boat-rides and good food. What we got was a surreal version of that same expectation.

The hotel Puerto Escobar has decadently lush grounds. Everything around is lush. There is a nice swimming pool, several nice covered seating areas and friendly people running it. My limited Spanish was sufficient to communicate the basics, and have some short conversations, but not enough to fully understand some longer explanations of the Bahia as a whole. I think the manager had a lot to tell me that I only sort of got.

Standing on the little beach behind the restaurant with my daughter gazing across the bay, I found mysef wondering who was cooking over an open, crackling flame, and when would I smell it. A few minutes later my eyes drifted down. I realized the crackling was actually a veritable mine-field of thousands of little fiddler crabs snapping away at each other while popping in and out of their holes like little jack-in-the-box toys.

If you stand still in a field of angry crabs, they don´t pay you much mind if you are fairly still. I´d only seen these little guys waving their big display claws at rivals on National Geographic, but here they were at my feet. They seemed loud, because they bay is otherwise pretty quiet.

We headed into the water, and my daughter and I were delighted to find the hard part about standing in the water there, was trying to avoid standing on another kind of crab! The shallow water is litterally a carpet of hermit crabs in ornate conical shells. This all sounds kind of creepy if you aren´t a nerd like me, but the water was surprisingly clear and clean, and the crabs were actually adorable. And the sand was very nice and smooth.

I got used to them crawling across my feet, and to the very small fish that came and nip at my toe-nails, giving me a mermaids manicure. Standing in the water, looking back toward the hotel, I saw the entire ground moving just like the ground I stood on, crackling, growing, fighting with life. Mangrove roots shot up through the sand. The roots of more developed trees were like tiny metro-centers elevated from the sand and water, buzzing and humming with industry.

As the sun set, the water retook the entire beach and covered the previously fully exposed trees to the top few branches. The sea arrived at the top step of the hotel´s staircase. It was a good time for a nice meal.

The hotel has a menu of food typical to the area. The portion sizes are much larger than I have come to expect since moving to El Salvador. If you visit the Puerto Escobar I recommend the chicken dishes, which were especially good. The appetizer of avocado with homemade tortilla chips is thick and filling, but go ahead and eat it. It´s delicious, healthy and they prepare everything fresh from scratch so meals take a while. If you are sitting there with a cool drink watching the bay you wont mind. The food will show up exactly 5 seconds before you start to wonder if they killing the chicken especially for you. To be honest they might be, and that also might be why it is so good!

If you are American you might freak out that things move slow. But realize…what else are you going to do? You are in paradise, there are no TVs in the room and there shouldn´t be. hang out between the bay and the pool as it gets dark and let your eyes wander. You will see some amazing things.

I saw two different kinds of light shows. The first played out across the extensive grass hotel grounds. A floating blanket of more fire-flies than I´ve ever seen made me want to turn off every light in the area. And there are very few to begin with. They had an oddly consistent elevation above the grass, and as they flashed on and off at that same leverl there were so many they created a noteworthy layered effect. I tried to capture it on film, which simply did not work but the task was far above my level of skill.

The second show of the evening began as dinner was still being prepared. Across the bay and slowly approaching, was a lighting storm to rival most I´ve seen. Initially the flashes were muted by clouds, and as the storm got closer we began to hear the thunder, then see the strikes. It was like dinner theater. I still had a chicken leg in my hand when the storm arrived suddenly and with gorgeous force. Finaly, a very nearby strike took the lights out for about half a minute, And freaked out my five year old and her puppy enough to send me (but not my husband who wanted to be in the pool in the rain) back to the room. It was a great evening!

The rooms at Puerto Escobar are clean, and otherwise basic. I came prepared with the following items, because I am sensitive to mosquitos and have lived here long enough to know that very few windows have screens. I recomend you bring similar items to those on this list unless you are one of those who somehow resist the little blood suckers.

Spray Repellant, for you

Citronella candles, for outside your room

Repellant bracelets (these are all natural oils and i wear them on my ankles..they help)

“Stinger” Ultraviolet Bug Vaccum. (draws them in with light, vacumes them into filter tray..dehydrates them. emptying the tray is disturbing sometimes)

Elelctric bug tenis racket zapper. I forgot it´s real name…I love this.

Bring these and more. If you are very, very sensitive I recommend you sleep with long a long sleeved shirt and socks. You are in the mangroves. This is their turf. It´s like going to hell and trying to keep the demons off. You are in hell! What do you expect!

I was not shy walking in with my little bedside bug vacuum. We used all of the above, and left with only a minimum of damage. Considering where we were, and the activities we chose, that´s not too shabby. Let me clarify….we got bit, but it´s all relative.

Also, let me clarify that my husband made the mistake of leaving the bathroom window ajar. when I came back the room the entire ceiling of the room was black with mosquitos waiting for me to finish dinner. I live in El Salvador and I´ve never seen so many. You have to plan and be proactive.

We made it through the night, had a great breakfast and set up to take a boat out to see some more of the bay. I recommend this, whether you go for a short ride or a long one. The kitchen is happy to load you up with a cooler full of drinks and snacks, and the boatman is happy to hang out while to pay at any number of locations.

There are places where at low tide you can put a lawn chair out in the middle of the bay,where entire islands appear out of nowhere, and reveal their own little words. There are forests out there that alternate between aquatic walkable.

To my eye, the mangroves are like modern art. you can watch the roots the way some people watch clouds and see the twisted shapes become something else. Some looked like you could walk under the trees if you showed up at the right time.

I understand that I missed one of the best boat trips the bay has to offer, because of the time of day. La Bahia de Jiquilisco is home to a Palacio de los Aves. A bird palace? Why yes and thank you very much! We did in fact go to the bird palace, and I was impressed anyway. The trees hosted herons and greebs and pelicans of different types. The pelicans here, as the drop from the trees to skim the water are really more like pteradactyles in my opinion. The wingspans had to have been greater than our little boat,s length, or maybe it was an illusion.

The boatman explained that in the afternoon these specific mangrove patches become completely covered with these several species of large waterbirds. I could picture it, I could see the nests, and many bords, but nothing compared to what he said happens at about 3:00 pm every day, when the pteradactyle´s come home to roost.

There are penty of sights in the bay we missed, and the hotel owners and staff can point them out. I recommend asking about the must see spots. Advertising, signage and the science of funneling tourists around is not as precise in El Salvador (thank God). It is easy to miss most of the good stuff in some areas. I saw signs of a burgeoning tourist industry there such as an ecotourism center with huge colorful sculptures just down the road from the hotel. The road itself says there is more going on here.

I recommend this trip for families, and nature freaks. It was very kid friendly, and pet friendly. Everyone had a great time, nobody was bored ever. This trip was moderate in price. We spent one night, ate three meals at the restaurant (and the more expensive food items) and had as many drinks as we could handle, took a two hour boat ride and made it out of there for under $200, including tip. That´s not cheap for El Salvador, but for what we got I felt good about the price.

I do not recommend it for those who are timid about bugs, who require extremely comfortable furnishings, or who are shy being friendly with strangers who speak only Spanish. You may need the help of a couple just finding the hotel. There are no road signs, our Garmin GPS has no recollection this part of the country even exists. This is a trip for friendly relaxed people who want to have fun, and enjoy some waiting for the occasional cow to get out of the lane.

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