El Salvador, San Salvador
After leaving Rio Dulce, Guatemala, it was a beautiful early morning ride under clearing skies on nice road into El Salvador.
Riding south for 50 kms from Rio Hondo, Guatemala, one comes to a fork in the road....5 kms east, and you are in Honduras, and 5 kms south and you are in El Salvador.
Other than the famous ruins of Copan, Honduras, and the fantastic scuba diving in the Honduras Caribean Islands of Roatan, there was not really much else for me to see, and since I now had enough of ruins, and I don't scuba dive, I headed South to El Salvador.
After the usual entry proceedure at the border...Latin Americaln border officials LOVE "stamps" - (like the ones that go in your passports and on documents) - there was the never ending series of documents, stamps, forms, stamps, copies, stamps, and fumigations, after which I finally hit the roads of El Salvador.
One other "proceedure" you see at every border, is the exchange of "dollars".
You are "assaulted" by at least 5 - 10 men waiving 4 inch thick wads of money, compeating with each other to get your "business" to change your current money to the next countries currency. They all shout different exchange rates, and when you pick the best one, it starts all over again. In the end, you can usually get to within 1% of the official bank rate, and since I only need enough money to get me to the nearest "cajeo automatica", this is not a problem. By the way, while these "transactions" are technically illegal, no one really seems to care.
I arrived in San Salvador, a huge city, (pop. 500,000) and called Rene Caceres, a friend of Bruno's (Rio Dulce).
Rene asked me where I was, and within 15 minutes he was there in an old Jeep Cheroke, and told me to follow him to his house, which was more like a mansion!
Five minutes out of the city center, high on a hill in a gated community, we pulled into Rene's beautiful 5 story, multi veranded home built in the colonial style of white walls, teracotta roofs, and dark wood trim...it was beautiful.
Rene insisted that as a friend of Bruno's, I stay with him.
He showed me to my room with privare bath and balconied terrace, and said the maid would have supper waiting after I showered.
Rene, somewhere in his 60's, is now sort of retired, leaving his daughter Peggy and other sons run his meat processing business. He also owns the only Deli, "KREEF", in San Salvador, run also by Peggy and Rene's wife.
Rene and I chatted over a simple supper where I met Peggy, a beautiful girl who lives with Rene and her son, while her husband, Carlos, lives in Managua, Nicaragua where he works in the "shmata" business. They get to gether approx. 1 week each month, but soon plan to open a deli in Managua and then Peggy and Carlos will live together there.
The next morning after breakfast, Rene proudly showed me his mobile home which he uses to travel with his family, and then took off to the gym, while I spent most of the day at a surfing beach 30 minutes south of SS, La Libertad.
That evening, I met Peggy and her friend, Tita, who was about to marry a Canadian the next week, at the deli where I had a great pastrami and cheese with a German beer.
The deli, Kreef, is located in the Zona Rosa, which is the general name given to the upscale resto, shopping, and nightclub/disco area most cities in Mexico and Central America. This section resembled any modern, first world city.
Guns are another thing in El Salvador, as in most cities in Mexico and central America.
I see more guns in a day than I see in a decade in Montreal.
Posted in front of banks, hotels, restos, discos, parking lots, homes, ice cream parlors, MacDonalds and BurgerKings....just about anywhere you go....you see bored looking security guards packing, M16s, or 9mm pistols, or shot guns, or all of the above.
El Salvador is the smallest country in Central america, and the ONLY one with no access to the Carribean, and despite it's long history it has few historic buildings.
This is because the city was destroyed several times by 2 earthquakes in the mid 1800's, and one in 1986, the erruption of the Volcan San Salvador in 1917, floods in 1934, and the most recent earthquake in 2001.
The next morning it was off to Honduras, and Managua, Nicaragua.
***GO BACK TO THE "RIO DULCE" ENTRY AND READ THE NEWLY ADDED (BOLD/ITALIC) PARAGRAPHS ON GUATEMALA CITY.***
Posted by Ness at August 14, 2004 04:36 PM GMT