I’m writing this on the wee landing outside our room as Catriona has banished me for smelling like the sulphur lake I swam in this morning. So eggs then. Or farts. To be fair, I was pretty hesitant about taking the plunge as the water was welly boot green and surrounded by mud last seen in The Never Ending Story, but when you’ve walked up a hill in the sun to take a swim, you better take a swim.
So I stink. But not all is bad! Today not only did my Australian visa make a belated appearance in my inbox (cheers Tony you rippa!), we went full sail and booked our flights as well. Our flights are proof of our current situation – not a lot of money but a rather lot of time – we are flying from Nicaragua on the 22nd April to Florida, onwards to LA, then to Fiji before touching down in Melbourne…on the 26th April. The layovers are so long we may have time to see the Everglades, the Hollywood sign and a game of sevens on a south pacific beach in between – we’ll see. Cheap tickets though! That’s the main thing. Definitely…..
Back to present day and El Salvador continues to charm. They had a calamitous civil war in the 80s, which gave America another chance to interfere disastrously, but like the Vietnamese before them, the guerrillas have moved on and they’re harnessing their country’s strengths to embrace peace and the fruits of tourism that usually bloom with it. A local who had lived through the worst of the troubles took us into the hills to show us where some of the fighting had taken place. My only real memory of the hike was that it was hot. Ridiculously hot. I think I ate some mangos from a tree and then tried not to faint.
Another local in a different village took us to a coffee plantation which was far more relaxing and less grisly. The factory used machines from the 1930s, many of which were Scottish – possibly modified from whisky distilleries we guessed. There were conveyor belts where local woman had to sort through individual beans and look for any discrepancies. European coffee companies will send whole batches back if there are as many as 4 ‘bad’ beans in a 300 gram sample, so the poor ladies were under a fair bit of pressure. The coffee our guide served us at the end put a sparkler up my backside. I felt like I’d mainlined a whole jar of Nescafé into my heart. Here’s me drying some beans for nothing. Saint.
And so now we eye the Honduras border from our mountain vantage of Alegria. Getting here took 5 buses – this was only because on bus number 4 we were advised very casually by a passenger that we’d just driven through our intended destination and we better get off at the next town and try again. This added a good hour to our travel time. So God knows how many buses it will take to get out of El Salvador, but one thing’s for sure, we are glad we came. Superbly friendly, terrifically cheap and more red meat than you can shake a rib bone at. Oh, and volcanoes! Lots of volcanoes! And good bananas! What’s not to love!