Tuesday, March 9, 2010

El Salvador

Thoughts from the kids:

Samantha- All of our family adventures have been great. We have been taking turns staying up with mom and dad on their night watches. So far only Emily and Ashley have had turns and my turn is coming up soon. The next place that we are going is Nicaragua. I hope that in Nicaragua we are going to a marina with a pool. This life is great and I would not trade it.

Emily- We have met lots of people and all of the people are very nice. My favorite place is Puerto Angel . When we meet people it feels good. All the places we have gone to are okay. I like Puerto Angel because the water is so clear. I like the boat a lot. When we sail there is lots of wind that blows in your face. We see lots of dolphins when we sail. We also see lots of whales. We got a new kids fishing pole, which I am glad about. I have been fishing a lot now. I have not caught anything yet but I try. We have school every day but school is fun. We are at Isla Meanguera right now. We are very close to Nicaragua. Yesterday, we hiked a big hill to go to town. On our way to town we saw lots of cows.

Ashley- El Salvador was okay but Puerto Angel was the best because it had restaurants and a stone path and the water is so clear. We met a guy named Ed and his boat name is Lorien. The marina in El Salvador has 2 pools. The pool was fun and we were with other boaters like Steve and Sherry on Demaris and Greg on Sweet Dreams. Now we are at Isla Meanguera and have to hike to get to town. We are so close to Nicaragua, we can see it! I love living on the boat.


So, All went according to plan with our repairs and we left Puerto Madero for El Salvador. We passed Guatemala due to the fact that there is basically one entry port ($500 for five days) and no real services in the port. We entered into El Salvadorean waters with little fanfare and lots of motoring. Of course, we arrived at night and could not enter into Bahia del Sol without a pilot (guide) to take us over the ever moving sandbar entrance. We anchored off the beach with a six foot swell and waited for morning. At around 8 AM, I radioed the marina to request the pilot and was told to wait until around 10. A few minutes later, I heard a familiar voice from the trimaran Demaris on the VHF informing us of the tsunami warning now in effect due to the Chilean earthquake. To be safe, we headed out into deeper water about two miles off shore and waited for what turned out to be a non event thankfully. At 12:30 or so, we were met just outside the breaking waves by Rogelio, the local pilot, on a jet ski. We entered the estuary with the incoming tide and had no problems. Finally, we tied up to the dock and kicked back at the resort/marina pool with some $1 beers. It was nice to wash the salt off the boat and have easy access to the services. As it turned out, there was a 6+ foot tide, which meant a crazy tide current. This added to the local panga traffic and it was time to move to a mooring ball in the middle of the estuary. We tried the local fare (almost everyday) called pupusas, which are basically extra thick stuffed corn tortillas. They put beans, cheese, pork, shrimp, etc... inside and you top them off with a tomato sauce and pickled cabbage. Near the resort, these could be enjoyed for $.50 each and three is plenty. Up in the mountains, I found them for $.25. We took a guided day trip with some other boaters for a 13 hour tour of San Sebastian (old fashioned looms and crafts), Joya de Ceren (ancient town buried by ash similar to Pompeii), San Andres (mayan pyramids), Santa Ana (Spanish colonial town), and Price Smart (basically Costco for groceries). After realizing that the barnacles on the mooring ball were shredding the gelcoat on the boat, it was time to leave again. After refueling and ordering pupusas for the road, we headed for Isla Meanguera in the Gulf of Fonseca. This is a quiet anchorage on a big Island administered by El Salvador. We hiked to the town on the other side of the island this afternoon. When I say hiked, I mean up a 45% grade on a cow trail with the cows. The town was small and had a cool hotel owned by a retired american. We had tacos at a stand run by a mexican and talked with locals making fresh french fries in the street. We are within sight of Nicaragua and are headed there next. For those of you looking for off the beaten path vacations, I would not put this at the top of your list. There are plenty of sights to see and you can travel between the countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua by land fairly easily, but overall, there is no great beach areas with restaurants and services and the towns are sketchy without local knowledge. If you must, the town of Santa Ana was very scenic and clean and there are several hotels (Bahia del Sol, Comfort Inn, etc... on the Costa del Sur) that would be fine. The price structure is odd as the food is dirt cheap, but everything else including property and hotel rooms are basically american prices. I hope I am not boring everyone to death with the details, but I am trying to be as informative as possible. As far as I am concerned, this really is neat. It has been everything I expected and more. There are definitely ups and downs, but I have absolutely nothing to complain about right? Work on the boat never ends and we are not on vacation by any means, but this lifestyle suits me. We are able to interact with local people and customs and have seen some truly amazing things already and we have barely travelled over 1000 miles. We have met people on boats from all walks of life from the 30 foot sailboats to the 80 foot yachts. Single handers and families all just traveling for the sake of it. I met a couple (yes you Volo) who have been sailing for 40+ years. After circumnavigating in a basic boat, they upgraded and went back for more traveling from Australia to Alaska to here en route to a trip around the tip of Chile. Life is short, play hard!