Trip Start Sep 11, 2008
Trip End Jun 05, 2009

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Where I stayed

Flag of El Salvador  ,
Sunday, March 15, 2009

After a lengthy stroll on the beach at los Cobanos, the strangest place I´ve encounterd, we caught the 10am bus to Sonsonate, which according to the guidebook is a hell hole, but we thought it looked quite nice (we did only really see the bus staiton and environs I might add, its a regional hub with buses heading off in all directions to Santa Anna, Izalco and La Libertad). After unsucessfully trying to buy some tampons (you by now may have gathered that it is in fact Lucy writing this particular blog and not the infamous scribe JM Waterman, he´s in the shower), which they´ve never heard of in El Salvador, we proceeded to the highland town of Juayua, on what is commonly known as the "ruta de flores" or flower route, due to the beautiful wildflowers along the way. After scoffing some corn kernels on a bench we staggered towards the beautiful main square in search of lodgings. We were met at a doorway en route by Manuel Ayala, who was to be our tour guide of the surounding area the following day. After a delicious homemade broth style soup with tortillas, we went off on our own to the famous "Chorros de la Calera" aka waterfalls. We trekked about 2km down the dustiest track you´ve ever seen, it was like walking through snow (it being the dry season in El Salvador) and arrived at the cutest falls. They were all natural but a swimming pool had been built at the bottom, allowing the locals to splash about and cool off from the heat. It was beautiful and James dove right in.¨Some crazy locals decided to have a competeion to see who could climb the highest up the falls to jump back down! It was quite shallow below and very slippery so I really couldnt watch although they all made it, Thank God. That evening we went out for some pupusas, which had rapidly become our favourite Salvadoran food due to the cheap price (20cts each) and the yummy accompaniments, repollo curtido (pickled cabbage)  and salsa picante (hot sauce). It was friday and after a brief chat with some local kids who were, very unsubtly, trying to catapult birds out of the trees in the square, we encountered the weekly procession of the stations of the cross. I persuaded James to join it and we followed hundreds of people all dressed in purple, due to lent, around the town, stopping at various shrines along the way to pray. There are 15 stations of the cross and after 4 I went back for my camera, but after 8 James really had had enough so we called it a day... (sinner!)
Next day we were up and breakfasted for 7am to start a hike around the valley. We caught the first 15 minutes of Liverpool v Man Utd live on TV and were annoyed to leave! Manuel took us on an excellent tour round the laguna de las nymphas (water lilly lagoon) laguna verde (green lagoon), through lots of coffee plantations and finally across another mountain to some hot springs, which reminded us of Rotorua. We had a dip and enjoyed the beautiful views across the valley. On the way back we learnt lots about the hallucinagenic flowers and how when we order "carne de res" nearly every day it is inevitably donkey!! Ha. He wasn´t joking though. We had a soda in a bag and waited for the pickup truck to take us back to Juayua. Amazingly, when in the pick up it stared to rain, much to everyones disbelief, as it NEVER rains in the dry season. Yes, its us, we replied, its been following us since Thailand! They were most grateful. When we got back we turned on the TV and the replay of the footie had just started. I was shouting the place down when Liverpool won 4-1.
So, that weekend it was "ley seca" which means dry law, meaning there was a ban on drinking alcohol 24hrs before and after the election. We had cunningly bought a bottle of flor de cana (Nicaraguan rum) in order to drink clandestino in the hotel. Sunday came and after the elections we went for pupusas with Manuel which he kindly bought us in return for some under the table beers and half of our rum.We went round his house to see the election results which, thankfully, were the FMLN gaining power for the first time ever! The fire crackers started on the street and people jumped around for about 10 mins then off to bed!! We finished off the rum on the upstaits terrace of the Mirador hotel.
We left Juayua the next day and I really enjoyed our stay. Manuel was a nice bloke and the countryside was lovely. We missed the famous weekend wierd food fair, due to the elections, which means we´ll have to make it back here some day.
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