Monday, December 22, 2008

Western El Salvador

After San Salvador, we headed west and have barely had chance to draw breath since! We´ve got very used to taking everything at our own pace, so the deadline of Christmas bookings in Guatemala has been a bit of a shock. Still, as we plan to leave El Salvador tomorrow, I think it´s fair to say we have been able to get a good taste of the country.

Santa Ana, where we spent just one night, is a large, bustling city, but the cathedral is very pretty and there are several other striking buildings around the square.

In contrast, the tiny mountain village of Tacuba is incredibly tranquil and we really enjoyed staying there. The hostel, run by a Salvadoran family and really helpful Italian guy (who speaks countless languages fluently!), was great. We went on a really, really long walk with people from the hostel into the mountains. The national park is called Bosque el Imposible - the imposible forest - but really it was just pretty tough.

Although the climbing (or just scrambling at times) was hard work, the views were gorgeous and well worth the effort. We could see Guatemala on one side and the Pacific ocean on the other. Amazing.

Here we are enjoying a well earned rest.

Many indigenous people live up in the mountains and it was fascinating to see their homes and farms.

Here you can see a man beating sweetcorn cobs to remove the kernels. As in all of Central America, maize is an essential part of the Salvadoran diet.

After over 8 hours of serious hiking, we decided to get a lift in a pick up for the last couple of miles back to the village. As you can see, it was a pretty bumpy ride, being thrown around in the back!

Final stop in El Salvador was Juayúa, a small coffee-growing town known for its weekend food festival.

In amongst all the meat and seafood, we did manage to find a few veggie things, like these frozen strawberries, and certainly enjoyed soaking up the lively atmosphere.

Yesterday we walked to nearby series of waterfalls, which were very pretty and we were able to swim in the pools at the bottom.

It feels a bit like a whirlwind tour of El Salvador, but we are both very glad we came. The overwhelmingly friendly people, the beautiful countryside and the complete lack of foreign tourists has made for a very enjoyable couple of weeks.

Rachel x

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