Star Date:  January 2013
El Salvador


Hello Dear Family & Friends!

"Ahuevo", "Chivo"
(Salvadorian slang for "Right on"
 "Damn straight" or "Cool")





"Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something."  
(A quote from Invisible Children, a human rights campaign to help the victims of the LRA in Africa.  Check them out on the web). 


The smallest and most densely populated country in Central America, El Salvador, is also the least visited.  A 'bad boy' reputation during the vicious 1980's civil war and the gang violence in the 1990's has all faded away and those travelers ready for an adventure far from the throngs of Costa Rica are in for a treat.  It was rare to see another group of travelers for days on end as we traveled the highlands through mountains and tiny villages.  This is the land of fresh roasting coffee.  We got a buzz just from smelling the aroma in mountain village after village. Artisans sold their bright wares in colorful markets in Las Palmas and Antegracias.  The gem of the rough and wild north is the unspoilt colonial city of Suchitoto, perched like a crown on the ridge above massive Suchitlan Lake.

Suchitoto was a definite highlight as we sat in the colonial Central Plaza, across from Iglesia Santa Lucia enjoying 'pupusas' or stuffed tortillas with our Salvadorian neighbors. . The pupusa is so fundamental to the cuisine of El Salvador that the country has even declared November 13th "National Pupusa Day."   Pupusas are tortillas stuffed with meat, beans, cheese and the sound of slapping corn tortillas can be heard everywhere,  Our favorite were the crispy pupusas filled with beans, onions, and shredded vegetables, served with a side of pickled vegetables and tomato sauce.  Otherwise rice and beans, potatoes and some type of vegetables were always available in the tiny 'comedors' on every corner. We wandered through the busy market enjoying our daily coconut and maybe a handful of freshly cooked yucca chips.  And people ask, "What can you eat as a vegan while traveling?"  Of course I cook most of the time, for our once daily cooked meal, pulling out the spices from around the world that add the 'spice of life' to our day. We loved just strolling the side cobblestone streets, feeling the history that emanated from the old colonial buildings lining the narrow roads.  This is a place you plan to pass through for a day or two and get stuck for a week.  

This was not always the quiet little town it is today.   The area was the scene of some of the worst fighting in the civil war, when 90% of the population left, as the army fought this guerillas stronghold.  It was largely resettled by ex-guerillas after the fighting stopped and today aside from a few bullet holes in the century old walls there is zero clue as to the hardships endured in this quiet little berg.

Every country has their myths and legends.  Citipio is the rascal or mischief maker of Salvadorian tales.  His Mother Siguanaba, was banished when the god Tlaloc discovered she had a lover.  Her name was changed from the beautiful one to the horrible one.  She appears to lone men, usually seducers of women when they travel, but trying to get close to her she changes into an ugly old woman.  Her little boy, Citipio, has since wandered the countryside in tattered pants, a poncho, and a large straw hat.  He throws pebbles at beautiful girls when they are bathing in the river.  Only eating bananas and the ashes of cold cooking fires he gets blamed for messes in the kitchen.  Next time mischief is underfoot have a look around for that straw hat and bare belly!

We enjoyed a couple of days in the capitol, San Salvador.  Wandering through the markets we found Koradi (9A Ave Sur) a vegetarian restaurant tucked away less than half a block away from the cacophony of stalls selling absolutely everything.  On Sunday afternoon we wandered into a magnificent old colonial mansion off the square hosting orchestras, Salvadorian beatnik poetry readers, food stalls, and traditional or creative dance performances; amid the colonial columns, fountains and gardens.  What a wonderful cultural arts festival to happen upon.

Feeling the need to reconnect with the ocean we found ourselves hurtling down the windy road to the coast.  A surfers haven, many of the beaches are party scenes.  We randomly chose one further along, figuring most heavy partiers would get stuck at the first few.  Thrown off the bus around km 53 we walked down the steep hill to the beach.  We spent one night with a courtyard full of surfers swapping wave tales then waded across the small river to the long grey sand expanse of Playa El Zonte.  Finding the only quiet little local 'Hotelito' Casa de Frida' on the beach, we settled in for 4 days, walking for miles, swimming, reading and just relaxing from our wild hair raising trip through the mountains.

Taking the time to stay in one place for a while, simply relaxing, is the key to the success of our travels.  Most people go away for a couple of weeks or a month, racing from here to there to take it all in before returning home, exhausted but happy.  It is great to get out and explore the world but it would be impossible to keep up that pace for long.  We don't look at the overwhelming big picture of visiting S. America, let's say.  We just enjoy being in one town of S. America at a time.  Right here, right now, today is great and most days are great!  Worrying about what might happen is a waste of energy, causing unneeded stress.  Stress takes the enjoyment out of the day, out of the moment, out of life.  Home or abroad.  The world is our home and change is our constant.  Traveling along, enjoying each day as it unfolds, is our life.  We are ever thankful to be enjoying our lives, forced into the NOW and discovering daily what a magnificent world we all share!


And so it goes.........................................Next traveling through no man's land into Guatemala, where we flew off to our home in Hawaii to visit family and friends.   Until next month Keep Smiling and remember that you Do makes a difference in the world as you reach out to help those around you, in whatever way you feel led.  We can't do everything but we can each do something to make a difference. We are glad you stopped by. Thanks for dropping us a note once in a while!  Take care!


Love, Light & Laughter, 

xoxoox  Nancy & Joseph


Our route through Honduras and El Salvador.


Travel notes:

$1.00US = $1.00 US (Dollars used here after the collapse of the economy)

is the busy market town where you catch the bus for Suchitoto.


Hotel Blanca Luna: phone # 23351661
A basic  little local place with great views of the rooftops and cathedral next door.  Choose an upstairs room with a little patio. $7 per person

Funny but no hotels with a lake view!  Try Hostal Los Sanchez as an option.

Take a walk to the amazing view hotel described below (Lost the name sorry) Then take a tuk tuk down with all your stuff, and vegetables from the market to cook in the modern kitchen. There is a restaurant just up the hill and it's not a long distance to town without lots of baggage.  From the central plaza, church on your right, walk down the streets (far left side of plaza, towards the ridge overlooking the lake) NOT along the road that the little bus takes down to the lake.   Turn left when you can't go any further.  Follow ridge - at end turn right down the hill.  Hotel on your right.

The 'perfect' place:
One of our best views ever - stunning all day by ourselves, night falls and life in the 'palace' falls apart; bats in rafters, flying round in circles, the walls don't meet the roof so EVERYTHING can be heard from the next room. Cough.  Fart.,  phone calls, ETC. Ear plugs to the rescue!  Day breaks.  Our neighbor goes off to work and we have another absolutely splendid day outdoors perched above the stunning lake.  $15-$20 night for room without bathroom. Upstairs only 3 rooms sharing bath.

San Salvador:
Hotel Villa Florencia, phone # (503) 2221-1706
Walking distance to the center.  3a C Pte # 1023 Clean, safe little boutique type hotel. Take a taxi from the arrival bus station but can walk the 3 blocks to the corner where  Bus #102 goes to the beach.  $15 per room.

Playa El Zonte:
Casa de Frita: phone #2355 2992  Across the small ankle deep river to this beautiful beach. A small, basic 4 room place, quiet lovely, right on the beach for 1/2 the price of surrounding hotels. The only problem was the TV used by the staff on the tiny shared veranda.  Hopefully that problem is solved.  $20 double for several days.

Costa Brava: cliffside, just up the hill from Fritas,  phone # 70259934  great view, very basic rooms but the living/eating area has a wonderful view. $20/double

Get the bus to drop you off on the opposite side of the river and walk.  Give the Hotel name and the driver should help you. Then just walk up the road again to catch the bus to Acajuta- Sonsonate-Las Chinamas the border crossing into Guatemala. Supposedly many of the other beaches on the coast are really noisy, especially on the weekends.  Choose your spot!














The gem of northern El Salvador - Suchitoto.


Colonial streets vibrating with history.


The shaded central plaza is the gathering point from dawn
until midnight.


These beauty queens from towns around El Salvador piled
out of a van for a photo shoot.  Which would you choose
 for Miss El Salvador?


Our favorite 'pupusa' shop transformed from an empty
sidewalk across from the square to a happening place
all evening.


One x two.  Uno x dos!


Our spectacular view of the lake below from the balcony
of our chic, perfect hotel (in the daytime that is!)


A friendly chap talked and talked to us on our
bus ride to Suchitoto.


We passed through stunning mountains in northern El Salvador, with
 the smell of fresh roasting coffee wafting through the windows.


Another pleasant fellow next to us on our 'Buso del
pollo' or Chicken Bus.


One of the magnificent cathedrals in San Salvador.


Didn't know they had rhinos in Central America!


The governmental judicial building off the main plaza.


On Sunday afternoon we wandered into a magnificent old colonial
mansion off the square hosting orchestras, Salvadorian beatnik poetry
 readers, food stalls, and traditional or creative dance performances;
amid the colonial columns, fountains and gardens. 


What a wonderful cultural arts festival to happen upon.


We are always talking story with the workers.


Goofing around always brings a smile to everyones face.
We are used to playing the clown for that very reason!


We attended Catholic mass in the main catherdral on the square,
enjoying the ambience, music, and gilded statues.  We left
before they passed the plate - the main event during religious
ceremonies unfortunately.  Kind of like leaving an animist ritual
before they kill the chickens!


Our daily walk at low tide took us through arches
and caves, on Playa Zonte.


There was a fascinating event one afternoon teaching mentally
challenged and physically disabled children how to surf.


It was thrilling to watch young men without legs catching waves,
hooting with excitement. 


Everyday for a week we enjoyed the setting sun.



Below are a few of the items for sale or people you
will see in a Market 'mercado' in El Salvador.













































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