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EL SALVADOR    DIARY  3

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From Diary 2, the adventures continues.
5/1.
 My final sight is the little mountain town of Suchitoto, but I figure; I might finally get into the yellow mountains along the way. It is a 100 kilometre drive, and the first part is truly right through the mountains in 6-800 metres height.

Again, I find so many fields up here, even at the top of many mountains. But I also get access to some wild nature, and some cattle fields. On a single field, I find three different Opuntias and another tall cactus. In the Guava trees, at least three species of orchids sits among the many species of Bromeliads. I make a long stroll, towards the "maizena" fields and around.

Back on the serpentineing road, I see a sign warning about tortoises, but I fail to locate one. In one little valley, a little village is found, but here are not many buildings along the road. I find a road, leading even deeper into the mountains, connecting tiny settlements. It is a bit rough, but the car survives once more.

I end in San Miguel Ingenio, and turn around, before I end too way off. The GPS have a great road lined up, but neither the car nor me are really in for it. I doubt I could get a mule that way! The other way might be gravel, but durable. And the views to the sides are fantastic!

I don't get much into the higher green mountains, but that was not my intension anyway. It is Sunday, and here are hardly any traffic. As I crosses the large Rio Lempa, a sign show off to a Mirador. I pass several suspicious suspensions bridges, leading pedestrians to small settlements, but the gravel road gain height, and I find my self way up in some remote mountains.

Realising I'm driving the wrong direction, I turn around at the pass, and find a single viewing-platform near the river. The view was way better from the bridge! The GPS have another great road in mind, but neither the car, nor me are really voting for the narrow and real long pedestrian "suspicious" bridge! I skip Santa Rosa Guachipilín, and head back to CA-3W again.

Well, at least to another gravel road leads into the mountains. Here are some large trees flowering. The usual yellow Fabaceae-like, one with large yellow trumpets, another with yellow. The pink flowering fence-pole trees are everywhere.

I make numerous photos of the fantastic looking mountains, but at the end, they kind of look alike in the evening. Never the less, it is a great experience. Around noon, I reach a huge plain, and that draws out the excitement a bit .It is down at 350 metres, and almost completely farmed.  Cane is the most common crop, but here are corn and others too, along with some cattle.

Rio Lempa runs into a huge swamp area, and I drive along it for a while. Then I turn off towards Suchitoto. Once again, I hit the mountains on a narrow road. Corn are dried in one lane, cows are walking the other, and life is tranquil. Then I reach Suchitoto, and it is adorable!

Cobblestone roads, old clay houses, flowers everywhere, steep hills and the view over the lake. I find my little and lovely hotel behind the white church, and get a room for $8. Here are just so cosy, with a first floor terrace with a breeze and covered in flowers along with a great view.

It seems like the people from San Salvador have found this little gem, and there are some restaurants around the central square. However, just around the corner, time have stand still for hundreds of years. I find a great lunch; a huge pancake folder over cheese and vegetables along with a pink pineapple juice.

Then I do the streets, alleys, down hills and everything in-between, hoping I won't miss a single house. Here might be a few smart city cars, but most are banged-up pick-ups. Here are even some old tractors. But I hardly seen any horse wagons in El Salvador, thinking about it. And only a few black vultures.

One line of houses are just more adorable than the other. If you only are going to visit one town in Central America, this should be the one! I let the camera cool a bit off, when I reach the central square, and enjoy a cup of coffee and a rather good cake.

I do a little loop more, to get to the famous lake-view. And see just another old house or two. I find the theatre and the new square, but absolutely nothing is happening here. Then I head home to work a bit. The sun get low, and despite i is only a little below 400 metres height, it is a bit nippy in the late afternoon.

I work until dusk, then I head out on the square and manages to find a  huge salad for dinner. The church is lit up, and the square is rather packed. I do a loop, but return to get my jacket. And then I can't talk my self into going out again. Well, I got plenty of work, and the Dakar Rally have started. The Yellow Mountains and lovely Suchitoto.

6/1. I have an intention of seeing the north-eastern part of the country, and I start driving around the huge Embalse Cerron Grande.I see a lot of great views through the trees, and a few times, I get pictures. Quite some rivers feed the huge lake, and I stop at Puente Quezalapa. It is pretty much dry, but I see what looks like a school of the mud-skipper-like fish.

The mountains I drive through are real steep, but covered in mainly yellow grass or green trees and bushes. Here are little settlement, and little traffic, but the first part of the road is good. Some of the valleys have small villages, connected by gravel roads.

I follow one of these roads, and drive through the few huts. Then the true adventure starts. It seems like my GPS have several settings: Pedestrian, bike and default: Kamaz 8x8 Race Truck. This would be a good road to test such a truck. But; it does lead through so much great looking nature, and I enjoy the drive - way more than the car. Some of the steeper parts have been sealed with head-sized round rocks - but some are missing by now.

I still meet the now rather huge Rio Lempa from time to time. At one point, real remote, when I stop to make a photo, the car refuses to start again. It is completely dead, and I pop the hood. As I hoped, it is the cable to the battery, that have gone loose. Nothing a piece of rusty barbwire and a good rock can't fix. Back on the trail, I finally make it to the swampy shore of the lake.

After around 50 kilometres, I reach the sealed road again. However, that does not help much, as one and a half lane have gone is some stretches. And there are no warning. I have to have one eye on the road, another on the real low fuel-meter. Mainly because it is so much downhill, I make it to Sensuntepeque. This have so far been a real beautiful tour, almost like Chile or Georgia - but I lack the photos. The trees that alien the road prevents me for making any.

I had planned to stay outside the town, but the car need desperately to be fed, and I can eat on command. The first stint of 100 kilometres have taken four hours. It looks like a fairly big town and cosy too, but I have a long way ahead still, and after I have gassed the car, I find some local lunch in a back-alley, on the way out of town.

Another 100 kilometres to next waypoint, and this time, I hope it is by sealed roads. The hills have become more green by now, even the grass are green on some. Then around the corner, the rocks are almost barren, and here are Opuntias. I cross Rio Lempa once more, and it is real wide. The road get low, while the temperature raises. I leave the 6-800 metres to around 100 metres height. It feels like a huge föhndryer blows into the car.

One hill seems to be endless. I think I looses around 600 metres height on this one alone. It is one smooth decent, but around many corners. I pass a long lowland, but then it is into the mountains again. A new crop start to fill the hills; Sisal agaves. It seems like the leaves are harvested every year, and the plants continues growing.

I make it to the second waypoint, and now, I only have around 50 kilometres south by good roads - I thought. Apparently, the GPS want to challenge the car just one more time. It is a real rough road, but it leads through some interesting huge boulders. They are covered in some Selaginella, but the area is small, and I fail to find a place to park. The area is real dry, and here are some cacti as well.

I hit the sealed road, and spot the huge Volcan Chaparrastique. Despite it is only 2130 metres high, it dominates the horizon, as it sit on a huge, flat plain. The traffic intensifies, as a I approach the huge city of San Miguel. I have a hotel on the right side of the centre, but have quite some problems finding it. I had expected Hotel Europa to have a sign out front....

I drop the car at four, and walk the 1,5 kilometres to the centre of town, as it is the fastest. In my eager to reach the town before dark, I forget my camera in the car. I just have to use the iPhone for once. I meet the huge market area first, and do a few loops in the crammed environment.

Then I find the central square and the rather little church here. I start looking for dinner, but it is too late for the small stands. I end up at PizzaHut, and get an unexpected 2 for 1 offer. Back out on the street, there are the most fantastic sunset behind the volcano - somewhere behind the houses. I am back in the last minutes of daylight. Through more mountains to San Miguel.

It is time to start on the last Diary 4 for El Salvador.

Photos   Map & Plan   Diary 1  2  3  4