Categories
locations people postcards

León y Volcán Telica

The first city we stayed at was Leon. Famous for its colonial architecture like the cathedral.

IMG_2431

At night, a couple of food vendors set up their stalls just behind the building and sold delicious plates with grilled cheese and vegetables. We stayed at the Sonati Hostel where we met Toby and formed the plan to hike up the Telica Volcano and camp there for the night. We went by ourselves and got a self-drawn map from a guy from Algeria, who did the trip a couple of days earlier and who was also kind enough to lend me his backpack. We took a bus to the closest little village and hiked up in the afternoon. Luckily we met some people working on the surrounding fields as the map proofed anything but a reliable guide. And without going astray too many times we arrived early enough to have a look around the crater before sunset.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We had heard, but only half believed it at the time, that there are people selling cold beer up here. But it proofed to be true as we saw this guy with his bright red cooling box, which we could see several hundred meters away, coming to intercept us as we walked along the ridge of the old crater towards the now active one. The people are from a cooperativa which help keeping things organized in the area. They keep an eye on people clearing the woodlands for their fields, help in case of an emergency, when there is a warning about rising activity of the volcano and people are asked to evacuate the dwellings closest to the volcano. So even if it is not their private property, where we pitched our tents on a meadow below the crater, we agreed to pay two dollars each. After dinner we made a photoshooting with the illuminated tents…

 

…and climbed up to the crater once more to have a better look at the red lava pools. No photos could do it justice. And it is just half as exciting without the sound. That reminded me on the time in Indonesia and the Volcan Bromo, which besides the sound made itself noticeable through the shaking earth beneath ones feet while appoaching the crater. Here’s another shot of the volcano with Toby just after we arrived…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

… and the crater after sunset.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We all slept just a little and when we got out of our tents, some horses were grazing nearby, as we made our way towards the crater one last time for sunrise.

IMG_2475

on the next day we packed and started on the long ride to Granada,

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

from where we will take the ferry to Isla Ometepe.

Categories
food travel

Honduras

It was a short ride to the border with Honduras, where we met some truck drivers while stopping for lunch. It was a sunday and the majority was already waiting since Friday evening for the banks to open again on monday, as they have to pay taxes and in between Friday afternoon and monday morning no border crossing is possible for them. Thus the travel time is easily adding up and some drivers are on the road for two weeks or more if they have more than one border to cross before they reach their destination. For us the border crossing went smoothly and it wasn’t long before our next one. Paul was a bit in a hurry to arrive in Panama in time to reach a boat taking him to Colombia, so we crossed the country at its narrowest point. It’s also the hottest part of the country and the hottest time during the year, just before the start of the rainy season, when we cycled through it. At noon we were glad to find a fruit stall which made ridiculously big fruit platters; just the right size for us.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The breakfast the next morning was another nice surprise. It consisted of baleadas, typical honduran street food, and they had delicious pancakes to complete the meal. We only stayed a night in Honduras and then made our way to the border with Nicaragua.

Categories
locations people

The el salvadorian cyclist

Once in Zacatecoluca, i met Paul, a cyclist from England, who started his tour in Alaska. We were going in the same direction and thus started after a hearty breakfast towards Honduras. It was a long day of cycling and still there was one more climb ahead of us towards the coast, when pick-up truck passed us and a guy presented himself together with an invitation to camp at his place. José cycled from Canada, where he lived in Quebec for several years, back to his native El Salvador on his rather odd bicycle and is known to fish tired cyclist off the road and invite them to stay at his house. We arrived at his village on the brink of a holiday and paid a short visit to the feria to get a bite to eat. But before we had our proper dinner, we had to help him visit some farmers in the surrounding villages, from whom he buys corn, and helped him to load the bags on the truck after they were weighed. It took a while but the following pupusa dinner left everybody happy.

From his time of hosting cyclist, José has quite some stories to tell and it was a very pleasant and entertaining time we spent with him. In the morning we took a goodbye foto…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

… and wrote in his guestbook which was already full of lovely comments.

Categories
food locations people

San Salvador

The family of a friend invited me to come to San Salvador and thus again i had a reason to go to a central american capital, which i though i would skip altogether. We agreed to meet at the “Parque de Antiguo Cuscatlan”, a small town on the south end of the city. From the time i met them, there was hardly any minute of spare time. They took such good care of me and i felt i saw within three days more than i do usually in a week.

Even on the evening that i arrived, we found time to drive to a lookout and later went for some “pupusas”, which i have to admit are a tastier affair here in El Salvador.

The next day we visited two museums. First  the museo nacional, where one can obtain a good overview about the country. Starting from the early migrations to the rather recent history of the civil war, which was ignited after the assasination of Oscar Romero. A lot of these events found its way into this mural in the yard of the museum.

IMG_2341

The second one was the museum of art which showed besides el salvadorian art, a really good colombian guest exhibition. Here: el ciclista by Nirma Zarate.

IMG_2361

The botanical gardens with some nice flowers and this massive bamboo trees were the next destination in the afternoon. And one can see the old volcanic rim from a huge volvano, which stood where now the city is located.

IMG_2388

The house was mostly filled with music and in the evening we had a proper sitdown with our guitars which lasted until late in the night. The next morning i went with Carlos to the University of Central America, which also played a role during the civil war when the army encircled the area to assasinate six jesuit priests living on the campus. The students offer free tours of the museum and the former quaters of the priests. The tour ended just in time to see a play about Oscar Romero. A theatrical company of mexican students were visiting San Salvador and showed their take on the story of the former archbishop of the city.

IMG_2407

We had lunch together with some other students where some projects were discussed. For example as how to use the coming air time on the student radio and a water filter system to help a community, on one of the islands off the coast of El Salvador, to get access to clean fresh water.

The next day saw us visiting the Boquerón National Park with its volcano. It was a bit misty but the vegetation around the volcano made up for the obscured views. In the evening we had a pupusa dinner once more and discussed the best way to exit the city by bicycle which turned out to be the Calle vieja a Zacatecoluca.

Categories
people travel

Ruta de las flores towards the pacific

After cycling towards the el salvadorian border for the second time, i also passed that point where the freewheel hub body stopped working some weeks earlier. A little bit later i found myself in the pleasant little town of Jalpatagua, where i spent the night before crossing the border to El Salvador the next day. From the border the road slowly winds its way up into the highlands, the so called “ruta de las flores”.

Along the way a picturesque little villages and cafes, where one can taste the local coffee, i camped the night at the Portezuelo Finca together with two busloads of schoolkids which turned the place rather lively. I enjoyed a rest day and in the afternoon wandered around the coffee plantations, which this year were infected by some disease which reduced the yield drastically. I still got a chance to taste the coffee when i had a longer conversation with the people working there. Which also proofed an excellent way to keep praticing that spanish which i always feel eluding me after a couple of days with only brief use of the language.

The downhill to Sonsonate was a nice reward after the climbing coming from the border and the last repose before i had to face the heat of the lower coastal plains. My body rather reluctantly adjusted to this, after i spent this year almost entirely in the highlands. The “Ruta litoral” along the coast is by no means flat and only by devouering a whole watermelon could i keep my fluid balance, before i arrived in El Sunzal in the evening where one can pitch a tent for three dollars a night. It was still mango season and three huge mango trees covered the camping area which proofed almost fatal. After it rained heavily during the night, one of the branches which was already weakened by some fungus, finally broke off because of the additional weight of the water and landed in between the tent of my neighbour and mine. Luckily nobody got hurt and otherwise the trees were a blessing and only delicious fruit kept on falling from it after that. We enjoyed a nice evening with a couple of drinks and talked about our wishes and concerns about the world, that seemed to occupy our minds in a similar way.