Joined: Sep 2008
We left the volcanic black sand beach of Playa Tunco, a small surf town nestled on the Pacific coast just before La Libertad. Everything was gated and guarded. From there we rode the 30 or so km to the capital San Salvador.
We did not have a particular interest for the city, other than the BMW shop. I needed to replace a couple of items that were stolen from the crash bar bag in Palenque. So we found a B&B walking distance from the shop, and booked for a couple of nights with our host Eduardo on Pje Maracaibo. We arrived on Sunday afternoon.
Eduardo is a surgeon and performs periodically when he is not running the hostel. The place was nice enough, clean enough, etc enough… but there was a bit of an “Hotel California vibe to it”
-“You can check out anytime you want but you can never leave” type thing.
Everything barb wired and padlock. We had breakfast and dinner at the hostel and we were the only guess. The dinning room was a bit creepy, with shady lighting, and the whole family would walk in one by one at regular interval, look at us say -“buenas tardes” or something applicable, and disappear in the kitchen carefully closing the door behind them. We were asked what we wanted for dinner around 1500 when we came back from our walk in the neighbourhood, picked something from the menu and agreed to come for dinner at 1900. We showed up at about 1845 and got dinner at about 2030; it was funny because the sons, daughters, abuelita, cook, and the surgeon kept walking in the dinning room, give us a quick gaze – or not, then dart in the kitchen, and carefully close the door as if there was a secret ritual been performed, and we where either not invited to the party or would end up as the sacrificial lamb.
In the end it was all-good, and we woke up without any new scars and all our organs still in place.
Yesterday we walked to the dealership and spoke with the bike mechanic who told us that he only had one oil filler cap wrench and one oil filter wrench, and that they were part of his tool kit and he could not part with them.
They had nothing else in stock. Not such a big deal, as I found a way to open/close the oil filler cap, and I’ll figure a way to remove the oil filter when the time comes.
So granted that we were not in the best neighbourhood of San Salvador, and I do not want to generalize, but even riding through the city we did not see anything really noteworthy. It just does not seem to be a great place to live in. Guards with shotguns at the entrance of every store, and soldiers with M16’s in public places like the mall, schools, and bus terminal. A lot of eight feet tall steel fences adorned with razor wire.
All the people we met were nice and pleasant, and answered all our questions with a smile. We walk around during the day, and never felt unsafe or threaten, however same as the downtown of many US cities, I visited; I don’t think I would be walking around at night by myself without been very familiar with the area.
I know it’s all about fears, and they are likely my own, but you cannot help but see the signs all around you. Reading the faces you can catch a certain edge in people eyes, fear, surprise, something hard to describe, you know it when you see it. I remember noting a similar ambience when riding through Napoli at the height of the trash war the Camera was wagging against the citizen of this great Italian city in 2008.
I kept asking myself how it would be to live in such a place, were the threat of violence, crime, and guns is omnipresent, the smell of sewer, the dirty and shambled buildings, the littered streets… It is so counterintuitive to what makes us thrive as human beings.
Not only that but in a country that is so overwhelmed by a foreign dominion that it chose to forfeit its own currency. Think about it for a second… Every time you pay for something you are reminded of your economic dependence. In a world where everything weighs on money, I can’t imagine how it could be to constantly be reminded that the fruit of your labor is monetized through a currency that is not your own, and that subsequently the great majority of what you spend is to buy goods from places harboring effigies of the same foreign nation. Evidently Salvador is but a receptacle of Americana, where KFC, Pizza Hut, and other fast food chain reign, more than we saw in Guatemala and Mexico. Most of what to buy, especially what you consume is woven with US culture. We saw the most overweight people since leaving the US. Obesity in El Salvador rates at 28.5% (2008), just 5% less than that of the US.
Food was not so great either, we had Pupusas, a fat tortilla stuffed with either frijoles, queso, pollo, or algo mas, and a couple of more “typical” dishes; verdict not so great.
The ride between the capital and San Miguel was pleasant enough but far from outstanding.
Coming in from Mexico where the food, people, cities, and scenery where so amazing, we found the landscape dotted with volcano really amazing but the Guatemalans were somewhat aloof.
Salvadorians appear friendlier, but apart from the pleasant interaction we had with the locals, we found what we saw of the country of little interest. Not everything is always amazing, but it’s all good, all part of it.
A nice pile of junk
First you spread it thin
Let it dry for a while
And finally pack it
A few more from the road
There is always room for one tiny box more
Tomorrow is ADUANA day, Jackie will be busy:
Out of Sal, into Hon, out of Hon, and into Nic.
We are heading for Leon.
V@lentino screwed with this post 11-12-2013 at 09:55 PM