Santa Ana, El Salvador: Day 4
It’s time to spend the money to rent a car as it is Semana Santa and there are no buses on Friday and a limited schedule for Thursday which throws a huge monkey wrench into my game plan to travel throughout the country for $2 a day. Ha! Anyway, I am going through Sure Rentacar as they have cars for $35/day with a/c and agreed to drive it to my hostel in Santa Ana from San Salvador for a surcharge of a mere $20USD.
A couple of other costs I’m throwing in here for your knowledge is $5USD SIM card for seven days of data and 3GB. Take that AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon! Dinner at a sit down restaurant for two people with drinks was $11USD last night. And while I wouldn’t recommend eating Mexican food in El Salvador at least not at the restaurant in Santa Ana, $11 and no pupusas on the menu??? That’s a-okay with me. Pupusas seems to be the main dish here as I’ve said but for every meal…Yikes!! Just like the jamón y queso sandwhiches in Cuba, pupusas can get a little viejo to say the least. But saying the word never does (pronounced pooh pōō sa)! Oh and another tip totally unrelated – watch out for falling fruit from trees! OUCH!
While on things to avoid, another thing to avoid is getting in a tousle with a parked car with your rented car. Oh yeah. I did that and paid $80USD to Yesenia to get her car fixed. OUCH numero dos! You are probably wondering how I dealt with this kind of situation given I don’t live here, there’s no insurance, nor am I completely fluent in the language and no one here really speaks a lick of English. But here is what I did. There was a man there on the street named Jose who I asked if he could tell me who owned the vehicle I hit. And, of course, he did. Ugh! We went straight to Yesenia’s home. Knock knock. Who’s there? Idiota. Idiota who? Idiota who a justa hita tú caro! Good news – Yesenia was very nice. I asked her to take a photo and call her mecanico to see what the cost is to fix it. He said ochenta so I pay ochenta. She probably has food for her family for two months now so all’s well that ends well. Yesenia did ask however whether I was trying to turn around or park in front of her car and did so in Spanish of course. I said “No. Yo quiero aparcar encima de su coche!” In other words, no I wanted to park on top of your car. Can’t you see?? She and her friends laughed for a good long time on that one.
My new friend Jens from Germany who was sightseeing with me today said he couldn’t believe how easy it was for me to deal with this…let’s call it… “incident”. He said I was so sincere they couldn’t help but not be mad. He wanted to know if being good with people was a trait you can teach. I was humbled by his comment. So the answer to how I handled this situation is the same answer to all questions related to things that happen on the road OR in your home, things that are good OR things that are bad, and particularly when you are dealing with people which means all the time. Be kind. Be respectful. Be genuine. And remember the universal language is said to be love but I think it just might be sonrisa – a smile. If you do these things AND remember it’s just another adventure, you can handle anything thrown your way.
Once finished hurting myself and others (or at least their things), I went back in time – Mayan time – to 250-600 AD to Tazumal in Chalchuapa and paid $1USD to see and learn about the ancient Mayan ruins smack dab in the center of this city. Think Machu Picchu but on a smaller scale. And don’t forget to take a walk and a camera into the cemetery next door if you make it to Tazumal.
Then we went to Joya de Cerén where I visited my first archeological site. It is the only UNESCO site in El Salvador. It is considered the best preserved pre-Hispanic village in Mesoamerica. This is because the Loma Caldero eruption back 1,400 YEARS ago buried this little village in 14 layers of volcanic ash. It is often referred to as the Little Pompei. While there were no human remains preserved here like in Pompeii as the villagers most likely evacuated in time due to pre-eruption tremors (again get your head out of the gutter!) and the fact this volcano erupted on them twice before, the sight was even better than Pompeii. I’ve never seen something like this. Thought it would have been an archaeologist’s dream come true to stumble on this but it turns out, it wasn’t an archaeologist who found it in 1976. It was a bulldozer. I learned they had steam baths back then for purification of the body and soul called Temazcals and they are exactly like what we have at the gym today. The only difference is that I’m guessing they didn’t have to pay for a membership. Moreover, I learned about how shamans practiced divinations back then too. The archaeologists found deer skulls with red pigment on them which they claim were used as masks during ceremonies. It was a mere 15-20 minute excursion at each site but by the time today was over I couldn’t get Mr. Worldwide’s Back in Time from Men in Black out of my head. And the price to go back in time? For foreigners $1 per car and $3 per person. You just can’t beat that!
Last but not least, we went to see Lago de Coatepeque. I saw it from 2380 meters up yesterday and now from down below. Both beautiful views but one of them didn’t make my arse hurt. Coatepeque Lake is surrounded on all sides by mountains and forms an almost perfect circle. I couldn’t help but think it was a watering hole for giants who leaned down and with both hands cupped together scooped up water and drank from it. Either that or they wanted some privacy for their own steam baths hence the mountains! It’s just breathtaking here from Hotel Torremolinos and at $35USD a night who wouldn’t want a little breathtaking in their life.
That’s all for now. With lots of sincerity from somewhere between the 3rd and 8th century.