3-23 thru 3-30 Back from El Salvador
by, March 31st, 2013 at 12:51 PM (721 Views)
I had a great time away on my family visit trip to El Salvador. It is a whole new experience to go to a third world country, and just live right amongst them for a week like we did. At least we had family to be with the whole time.
Got to the airport in the afternoon around lunchtime, and it was HOT! We were greated by my wife's brothers and their families, and my mother in law. We gathered our stuff and headed out to the shade beneath one of the many palms to enjoy a nice home meal from Pizza Hut! I ate like crazy, not knowing what I'd have later on.
After finding that a rental truck was over $700 for the week (outrageous), we just piggybacked in the two brother's trucks back to my MIL's house, about a 2 hour drive or so. Driving is very different there. You just drive, pass, and get there how you can. Everyone uses trucks, 'cause you can pile in more people that way, and not a lot of folks even have a vehicle, so walking or biking is another mode of transportation.
Housing is what it is. You make a place where you can. Land just gets claimed by a family, you build a wall/fence around it and use it. Houses are made out of cinderblocks if they can afford it, or adobe mud blocks, or in one case, I saw a house made of corn stalk bundles (temporary) while waiting for their other house to get constructed. It's hard to really describe it, and pictures don't tell the whole story either...you literally have to see it and live it to understand how life is.
This is my mother in law's house in the patio area out back:
This is a picture from a house that was being constructed near my brother in law's house in the mountains. Adobe mud block, with the roof trusses being lifted into place. They're made out of wood from mango trees, a very dense, heavy, strong wood:
We went to a local swimming pool "resort" area down the road from my MIL's house for a day, and had fun. I even had a nice import beer with my lunch there...Miller Genuine Draft. First drink in a while, and it was yummy. There were 5 pools at this place, all of them for playing, but I made use of one early in the day before others got there to do some lap swimming. The pool water was so cloudy that I couldn't see past my elbow in front of me either. I swam along one side, and found some landmarks to let me know when the end of the pool was coming. No flip turns, didn't need to risk smashing my heels. It was roughly 20 yards long or so, I took between 10-11 strokes after my streamlines. It felt great to be around the water and get out of the heat for the day, and the food there was just great!
The "lap pool" (notice that no firearms are allowed):
Another day we took a trip to a beach area, Playa El Espino. Found a place to park in a secured area with patio tables, covered, with hammocks, rinsing showers, and bathroom facilities...a big plus for sure! We had fun playing in the waves, picking up shells, found a couple live sand dollars, lots of crabs, a few cupfulls of clams. The crabs and clams became dinner later that day. The waves were just intense! 6-10 foot waves out were I was at, and almost as fierce closer in to shore. I did try a little OW swimming while there, going down the shoreline a bit. Kept an eye on the large cell tower above the resort I was at for a landmark, but didn't venture very far. I know my capabilities, and didn't want to push them to the limit. I had my fun, and then just played in the waves the rest of theday.
I was anywhere from 30-50 yards out from shore and still able to stand in chest deep water, but those waves let you know who the boss was of the place. I body surfed a few of the waves quite a ways, and one all the way back in to my family. The beach lifeguards had to go out after a couple guys too, so that was kind of exciting to watch the action. The one guy had a life jacket on, and the other guy was holding on to him. 1 jacket isn't made for 2 people, so they were in trouble, and neither of them could swim very well. The guards made it out and got them back in okay after a long time battleing the ocean waves. They also closed the area to any "swimming" for a while until things calmed down.
We spent much of our time going in and out of the local city, Usulutan. It's the 5th largest city in the country. Everywhere you go, you see police presence. Every place that has money, drugs (pharmacies), or valuables, has armed guards stationed at them like this Western Union money office:
The city streets are just crowded. It's a car-first world. Pedestrians and bikes just have to get out of the way. Driving, you just stick the nose of your vehicle out there and hit the gas. No one worries about tailgaters, they just drive. Pass when you can, and get there. I never saw one accident the whole time I was there, yet with the same conditions here in America, people would've been slamming on brakes, veering out of the way, causing more havoc than needed. In a way, they people of El Salvador know how to drive better. I took a turn at the driving and just loved it. I fit right in, and it was great to just get out and go. You still have your limits with speeding, though it's not anything written down. The police put out moving roadblocks through series of cones along the highways that you must slow down through, and they check the vehicles as they go by for anything illegal.
Here's a few shots of the city streets of Usulutan:
A great trip for sure. I had a lot of fun, and if any of you want to see more pictures of the trip, I have them all uploaded on my Facebook account