Saturday, July 10, 2010

4th of July in El Imposible

The embassy had their 4th of July party last Friday. There were a lot of people there - Americans and Salvadorans. Sophie had to work the ID line at the North Gate for an hour and a half. She says it wasn't too bad - unlike some other (State) people, who had to work the VIP line. One of Sophie's coworkers got yelled at by a Salvadoran because the important Salvadoran in the car didn't want to show his ID and she didn't recognize him as a VIP. ¡Qué lástima! It was an interesting little party, complete with American companies who had business in El Salvador. The food was a big tented area with mostly American company food - I had some Papa John's pizza and a Nathan's hot dog, washing that down with Sam Adams. You'd never guess that we were in another country.

That is, of course, until we arrived in Tacuba the next day for our hike in El Imposible - one of the best national parks in the country. It's a 2.5 hour drive from here and is close to the ocean and Guatemala. We stayed at a hostel called Mama y Papas. The hostel was very nice - it had a courtyard area with ducks, parakeets, and even a baby armadillo. The food they made was also awesome, and relatively cheap. The other travelers there were also a fun bunch. We had an older couple from New Jersey who were in El Salvador to have dental work done (1/5 the cost of the States) and two Canadians on a 2 month vacation before going back to school.

The next day, we left the hostel with Manolo (the son of Mama and Papa) on our hike in El Imposible. We rode in the back of a pickup truck for about twenty minutes through some other small, mountain towns. It was a fun experience. We started the hike on the top of a ridge where we had a great view of the valley below and a distant volcano. We started by going down through some coffee fields for about an hour before arriving in the park. The coffee fields are pretty - the plants are very waxy and they are all arranged into square areas surrounded by sturdier trees. The sturdier trees act as a wind break so that the beans don't fall down before they can be picked.

We hiked for another 4 hours through thick jungle-ish forest, seeing eagles, turkeys, other birds, and insects along the way. The guide cut a 'mangrove of the mountains' fruit in half and used it to put flower imprints on everyone's shirt sleeve. The design looked similar to the Lotus paddling company's logo. The trail was pretty overgrown - we had a person in the front knocking stuff down with his machete. It was great.

After 5 hours of hiking, we arrived at a huge waterfall that had a big pool at the bottom. We all went for a swim with some muchacos that arrived there at the same time. The pool had a lot of large logs in it, so, we had a grand time paddling around on the logs, trying to stay upright. The temperature was perfect, the weather was beautiful - it was paradise.

Then came the hike out. The hike out only took 2 hours. The first hour was straight up the side of the mountain. I was pretty glad that it wasn't raining because that would have been pretty scary. It was good, though. The guide didn't hike too fast and stopped a lot. Eventually we reached a dirt road and walked on that for 30-45 minutes before arriving at the truck. It was a great trip, although I probably could have done without feeling saddle sore from sitting on the side of the truck bed! Dinner that night was also delicious.

The Canadian couple was going to the beach the next day, so, we decided to give them a ride there. We took the Ruta de las Flores to the beach, which took about 2.5 hours. Along the way, we bought a sweet hammock chair and got a little lost in Sonsonate. We got to El Zonte, a small village on the coast, and dropped off the Canadians at El Dorado, a Québécois owned surf hostel. The waves were huge, but the beach was beautiful - even though there was little sand there - mostly rocks.

It was a great holiday weekend that, unfortunately, ended when I had to wake up at 4am to lead sprint planning for my development team. Haven't quite recovered from that yet!

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