El Salvador - Santa Ana

Published: October 1st 2010
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Santa Ana

Trying Not To Look Like A Gangster

The journey from El Tunco to Santa Ana is not a particularly long one but it does take three separate buses to get to Santa Ana.

There are no great dramas or break downs and we reach Santa Ana on time. On the journey we have the usual flow of sales people through the buses including someone selling worm tablets again - selling worm tablets seems to be good business in Central America. We are even treated to an in-flight movie on the last bus. And just when you think a posse of enterprising popcorn sellers will flood onto the bus we are left alone.

I am approached by a man with a stick at one bus stop. It's a very small stick and he's not being aggressive in any way but clearly the stick is the focus of his conversation. I can only think that he's trying to sell me his stick or tell me a really interesting story about it - I really need to do something about learning Spanish!!

Santa Ana is El Salvador's second city but is definitely not a tourist destination. We are
The Cathedral, Santa AnaThe Cathedral, Santa AnaThe Cathedral, Santa Ana

Three sides still waiting to be finished
basing ourselves here for a trip to Cerro Verde tomorrow but we don't see any other tourists in town. We do have the company of a group of "missionaries" staying in our hotel who seem to be spreading the word in various towns in El Salvador. Our hotel is the Hotel Sahara, not too far from the city centre. For the first time in El Salvador we have hot water! An extra long shower is taken in celebration. There are a couple of notices on the door of my hotel room - one in English asking me not to waste water or electricity and one in Spanish reminding me that it is a criminal offence to have sex with minors.

We take lunch at a small bakery near the hotel and then spend the afternoon exploring the city. It's sign of how many guns there are in Central America that even the bakery where we have lunch has an armed guard. Jeremy and I become aware that as we eat our pastries the security guard is watching us very closely and playing with his revolver {That's not meant to be innuendo!}. We begin to wonder whether our photos are on a string of wanted posters across El Salvador and he's waiting for back up to arrive or if he thinks I'm going to try and steal a chocolate cake.

Santa Ana is very much a functional city and the business centre for the region. We find the central square where most of the architectural highlights are - its fountain, cathedral, town hall and theatre. The rest of the afternoon is spent wandering around the streets and sat in cafes.

Cerro Verde

Santa Ana is our base for visiting Cerro Verde National Park.

This is a region of cloud forest surrounded by three dormant volcanos. There is a bus service up to the park but we opt for the luxury of a minibus. The minibus takes us on a continual uphill journey up to Cerro Verde at a height of 2300m - I'm not at all confident that a chicken bus would have made it! There are quite a lot of people visiting the park, with some large school parties, but we seem to be the only foreign tourists here. In fact our presence attracts attention and we are followed round by a photographer working to produce a tourist brochure for the area. I shall be collecting next year's El Salvador tourist brochures to see if I can find my photo in it!

I'm hoping for some really good views of the three surrounding volcanos and Coatepeque Lake. I should have realised that Cerro Verde is called a cloud forest because it's often in cloud! On the morning that we visited the cloud didn't lift and we didn't see all the views that you usually see in the photographs. But the trek through the forest and a bit of information from our guide was still enjoyable.

A trip down to Lake Coatepeque for lunch takes us to a village {also called Coatepeque? I can't remember} They clearly have a number of visitors here as there are quite a few restaurants by the lakeside and built out into the lake. The restaurant we go to is floating on the lake and has an outboard motor attached so I guess it can be taken out into the lake. {I couldn't make out any means of steering though!}. Further evidence that the village is a regular stopping off point for visitors comes when we have to flee from several bands of musicians who have spotted us and come out to "serenade" us.

As seems to happen on most days in the afternoon in this part of the world, the rains start in the afternoon while we are still at the restaurant. The waiter is obviously prepared for this, though, and has a range of umbrellas ready to keep our food dry when bringing it out to us.

Additional photos below
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16th January 2012

I miss my santa ana...........
Just wa nted to say hi to all my friends an family i n santa ana. frim alberto sandoval san francisco calif.

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