First week in El Salvador – new raw water pump – culture shock – the kids of Cardoncillo Island
After 550 miles and six days of sailing we threw our dock lines to the waiting smiling people and no sooner were we tied up than we grabbed our paperwork and strolled up to the hotel and to the Customs and Immigration offices. $40 for us and the boat to enter, (no charge for EU citizens) and we had our papers stamped and were ready for our first taste of 2011 El Salvador Cruisers rally http://elsalvadorrally.blogspot.com/
Conveniently we were already wearing our swimsuits, we hadn’t worn anything else for the last several days, so on our way back to the boat we stopped and jumped into the pool. Plunging into the water we both had trouble swimming; our legs were rubbery and tired from the last few days of beating. We had the pool to ourselves and we floated around the island until we were flagged down by a waiter, “would you like something to drink?” He asked. “Sure.” We eagerly replied and before we knew it we were drinking frosty beers in the pool as happy hour started and the cruisers began to arrive. We chatted happily with the group until the sun set and our fingers were pruned. We made our way back to Bamboleiro, cooked up some pasta which we devoured and then fell into our bunks and slept the whole night without waking up once! What a luxury.
The first couple of days we didn’t find our way out of the hotel complex which stretches for a mile from the estuary all the way to the beach, with a pool and bar at either side. On Sunday we decided to leave the bubble of the hotel and so walked to the end of the 25km sandbar that is the Costa del Sol to the beach La Puntilla, where the normal El Salvadorian families go to enjoy the beach on the weekend. Here we were surrounded by activity, families swimming, eating, louging in hammocks as the tide came up and washed through the waterfront restaurants. Waiters pulled the tables from the shore and set them at higher places. People selling coconuts, mangos and shaved ice walked the streets. We met one local 10 year old girl named Estephanie who was selling bundles of small wriggling blue crabs. We found out she lived nearby but didn’t go to school, nor did she know how to read or write. During the week she washed clothes and helped her mother clean up around the house. She was curious about where we came from, how we got here. If we’d ever been on an airplane. We shared a mango with her and gave her a dollar to buy some pupusas (typical El Salvadorian corn pancake stuffed with beans, meat or cheese) for lunch before we walked back to the hotel where we realized what a comfortable, luxurious life we are used to.
On Monday we got in the kayak and paddled across the estuary to the island opposite the hotel, to Cordoncillo Island. Here some three hundred inhabitants eak out a living fishing, gathering fruit and hunting iguanas. On the island lives one expat woman as well, a retired Canadian cruiser, Jan, who give English lessons at the one roomed school house twice a week. We met Jan at the pool and she invited us to drop by anytime we liked. We decided today was the day we should pay a visit and so we found ourselves entering the open walled classroom for the afternoon advanced English lesson. 25 or so kids were in this level, but once the younger ones heard there were visitors small snot nosed brothers and sisters began to arrive as well until the room was packed with kids, visitors, the teachers and a couple of dogs! The kids were extremely eager to show us what they know, exuberantly participating in all the activities. The hour class was over before we knew it and we were invited to visit on the weekend to play soccer with the kids.
Saturday the real fun began as we joined Jan, a fellow cruising family Ben, Lisa and Larry and brought a soccer ball to the cleared mud field behind the school. With the standing water on the field we quickly threw off our shoes and began an enthusiastic game of soccer. Check out the photos above of the kids, they played very well, putting us cruisers to shame sweating and puffing in the jungle heat.
This week we also solved our raw water pump problem. After an extensive internet search we were doubtful we could order a rebuild kit or the appropriate gaskets and seals we’d need to fix our pump. We also didn’t know if a rebuild kit would work figuring the engine is at least 30 years old, it could be the whole pump is toast. We got the part number for the pump assembly and on Ebay found one for $300, $100 less than at any other place. We order the part requesting express shipping to my mom’s house in Seattle. It arrived Thursday, and on Saturday she flew out to come and visit us, delivering by hand the very part we needed to put our engine back in operation. By removing one of the bronze elbows from the old pump we fitted, painted and installed the new pump in one single day without any trips to the store. What a relief!
Piscina del hotel Bahia del Sol, donde pasamos gran parte del tiempo
Bahia del Sol Hotel Pool, where we spend most of our time under the water
El anacardo que se come es lo verde, saliendo solo un anacardo por fruta solamente.
The small green nut on the bottom of the fruit is a chashew
Isla "El Cordoncillo" en Bahia del Sol (estero de Jaltepeque, El Salvador)
Cordoncillo Island en Bay of the sun, Jaltepeque Estuary, El Salvador
Jugando a futbol con los ninos de El Cordoncillo.
Saturday morning soccer game with the kids of El Cordoncillo
Carl parece un jugador de alta elite
Ninos en Cordoncillo
The kids of Cordoncillo
Decidiendo quien saca primero
Team captains deciding which side kicks off
Descanso para agua
Foto al final del partido (con Lisa y Ben)
Post game photo with Lisa and Ben
La puntilla, donde la gente de El Salvador viene a pasar el fin de semana en la playa.
La Puntilla, the beach at the end of the bar where the people of El Salvador come on the weekend to enjoy the beach
Bamboleiro en el estero de Jaltepeque, isla cordoncillo al otro lado
Bamboleiro at anchor in the estuary of Jaltepeque, Cordoncillo Island in the background