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Day 14 Lago Coatepeque

Written on: Monday August 6th, 2007

A journal entry from: Central America Road Trip 2007

A nice breakfast at my hotel and I jump on a bus downtown where I had read it is easier to cash travellers checks. I get there and jump off a little early as the bus slowed to enter the crowded market area. In that part of town at that time of day there were more people on the streets than cars. I get to where I thought the bank was and its an empty lot. And I check out several other nearby banks and they´re all closed. Turns out for some reason the banks were all closed for the day (Monday). Oh well, I still have enough cash to last a while but I just don´t like to get too low.

My plans are to take a day trip out to Lago Coatepeque. So I need to get to the Terminal Occidente (western). It turns out one of the women I ask is going to Santa Ana, which is in the same direction from Sal Salvador and she offers to show me the way. So off we go to find the bus to take us to the terminal. As we get off I pause to help a woman unload a heavy sack of beans (I think). And when I turn around there is my friend waiting to guide me the rest of the way. We find a (non-express) bus to Santa Ana that will let me off at El Congo and soon are on our way. This was more of a traditional bus, but it still lets on some vendors. And my friend, purchases some chiclets and offers me a small box. What? I should be buying her something or pay even pay for her ticket (90 cents) for all her help, but I missed that chance. This is yet another example of the friendliness and generosity of the El Salvadorean people. When we pass by El Congo I hop off the bus and wave goodbye to my helper never having gotten her name.

After a while another bus came along to take us to the lake. I get on board and soon see some wonderful views of the lake as we descend into the crater. When I spot the shore I hop off at a restaurant that was there and walk over to get a seat with a view. I order a banana batido and some cangrejo del lago sopa (lake crab). My drink comes and see a young woman trying to take a picture of her family at the next table so I offer to take a picture of all of them. And they seemed real appreciative. So I finish my drink and wait and wait and still no soup. I get no clear answer from the mesero about what is holding it up. But he brings over another batido, which apparently the family at the next table had ordered for me having seen my predicament. That was real nice but I thought the restaurant should have provided that. Finally after about 45 minutes, I cancel my order and get up to pay for the first batido. In the end it was all "gratis por consolado". And as I walk away the family offers me some of their Biggest Chicken that they had brought with them. I smile at them say no "pero muchas gracias" and head out. Yet still more examples of Salvadorean graciousness.

Its a little over 5km uphill back to El Congo, but I decide to start to walk it rather than wait for a bus, figuring I can take some more pics of the beautiful lake from some other vantage points. Of course, because of the heat, I take it slow and try to stick to the shadier areas. At several points, a bunch of kids slowly trudge by me on bikes. at other points I pass them where they stop to rest. Its hard to say which way is quicker as it is a long slow continuous grade uphill. I stop at another hillside restaurant to ask for a coke, rest and admire the view from their in shade. And yet again I have to remind the mesero who forgot my order. What is this, forget the gringo day? No problem he quickly brings it to me with a contrite small and a mea culpa. I thank him and ask about the bus. He says viente minutes so I go back to the railing and the view to wait. 2 minutes later back through the restaurant I see the bus sail by on the road and I run to catch it but too late. Oh well somewhat rested I continue my hike. After a while a small truck stops behind me. I figure they were offering me a ride so I hop in back. It is loaded with a bunch of kids and their bikes and I then realize it is a sag wagon for their group when it takes off and stops again a ways further up the road. But it still beats walking. Eventually we get to the top of the hill and I hop out and offer the driving "uno poco dinero por gasolina". "No gracias, no ęsta necessito" and he points to where the bus has just arrived to take me the rest of the short distance.

At this point I had originally planned to go on to Santa Ana and from ther Guatemala, but I had changed my plans for several reasons. First I had decided to cut out Guatemala this time around. I`m already halfway through my 4 weeks of travel and I need to allow enough time to get back to San Jose. Besides, I had been to Guatemala before and wanted to spend more time in new territory. I also figured it would be easier leaving my full backpack in San Sal and returning there rather than lugging all my belongings everywhere I went. Finally, I thought it would be easier catching a bus from San Sal to head to the border with Honduras.

So I catch the next bus back to San Sal and 2 more local buses to get back to my hotel. Dinner at a nearby Pizza Nova restaurant which was very crowded and had pretty good pizza.

Total cost for the day $41.30: $25 for the hotel, $5 for laundry (which I think was kinda high), $5 for the pizza dinner and the rest split between transportation and other food and drinks.