December 2, 2016 | Posted in:El Salvador
After spending so much time in Guatemala we were starting to feel a bit of time constraint so we hopped on a bus from Guatemala City to San Salvador in order to meet some friends of my mother who work for the embassy there before they went back to the States for vacation. Deanne, Vic and their kids were wonderful hosts and treated us to a taste of home in their truly gringo-style house where we were able to enjoy luxuries such as a massive fridge and flushing toilet paper. As an embassy family, they are required to live in special posh housing in the burbs. We had a laugh together about the huge amounts of security required for government staff housing, but of course if something happened to someone because of a supposed lapse in security, there would be such a sh!t storm. We left at the same time as they did and they had to have a guy come do a walk-through to make sure that all the security features were intact and that nobody was lurking around in the closets.
I know we took some additional photos while there, but they seem to have vanished.
After saying goodbye to our new friends, we wheeled over to Santa Tecla, a legit village that has been subsumed into the city by the engulfing suburban barf. The plan was to leave most of our crap in Santa Tecla with brothers Pepe and Hector whom I’d met in my Vipassana course in Guatemala. That lightened us up for a loop tour of some of the countryside we’d skipped on the bus.
April 28, 2016
Our first day out of the city would take us down an unearned descent for several miles to Joyas de Ceren. A car passed us slowly a couple km before the park and pulled over. Usually if people want us to stop, they’ll get out or wave out the window, but these two didn’t. We rolled past, but I somehow realized that was what they wanted, but were perhaps too shy, so we turned around. The sweet mother and her daughter wanted to chat and then handed us some cold sodas and snacks.
The pre-hispanic ruins of Joyas de Ceren are known as the “Pompeii of the Americas”. They were created when a nearby volcano erupted and buried this Mayan village in ash, which preserved the site. There was little warning, but unlike Pompeii, the inhabitants had just enough time to escape, although a duck was found tied up in the corner of a house.
Contrary to what we’d heard we were unable to camp at the ruins, but there was a balneareo nearby where we could pitch up for a few bucks and cool off in the pools to boot. The best part was having a roof so we didn’t have to use the stifling rain fly.
April 29, 2016
We took some farm roads out of Joyas the next day. It was a great ride, even if I was a bit on edge because the area seemed a bit depressed and there were some really sleazy guys watching us entering the dirt roads.
We chatted with this boisterous crew while breakfasting at a roadside shack and they insisted on paying. Pepe’s neighbor had given me a sort of necklace with two wood cylinders. I hadn’t understood what he said it was, but that he felt I should have it because of our trip. One of the guys asked if I knew what it was and the others said they were earplugs (horribly uncomfortable and dangerous earplugs). He called them fools and tried to explain, saying multiple times that it had something to do with Bear Grylls. It took a while before I finally understood he was saying, “escout”. Oh, scouts! I had a lot of difficulty in El Salvador because they use a lot of English words, but in a thick accent and with extra vowels. Apparently these wood pieces are difficult to get in scouts because you need to do something badass, so I am honored that their neighbor had felt I was worthy, although I’m not sure it’s justified. It’s just a bike ride.
We had a few hours to kill before bedtime so we went to hang out at the restaurant that was blasting Bob Marley rather than Banda. The proprietor was an eccentric but friendly guy who gave us gifts, showed off his decorations and gave us facials because, why not? There were also a couple of drunk guys there, one of whom kept telling us how he loved American music, especially once the Marley CD gave way to the cheesy 80’s power ballads.
April 30, 2016
We’d unwittingly gone to the wrong side of the lake so we annoyingly had even more miles on what would be a long-ish day, given the big climb to the top of the Cordillera Balsa mountain range at the end.
After that beautiful glamour shot road we were stuck riding for several miles on a very unpleasant highway with a worthless shoulder and plenty of fools. At least it was mostly downhill so it went quickly. We then turned off onto another small road that would take us up a long, steep climb to the top of the Cordillera Balsa. I had kind of underestimated/understated the extent of the climb while describing the day to Brandy. I may or may not have said something like, “well, we have a bit of a climb. It’s after 30 miles of riding, but I don’t think it’s too bad…”