Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Volcanoes

There are a lot of volcanoes in El Salvador.  21 according to the Smithsonian.  So, it's natural that many of the things to do revolve around volcanoes.  Sophie and our friends hiked the Santa Ana volcano on Tuesday.  It's the third time for Sophie, but, it really is a beautiful hike.  I have a feeling it's going to become like Old Rag to us, which is not really a bad thing.  After their hike, they got pupusas at Cerro Verde and then got pupusas at Margoth in San Salvador before going to dinner.  ¡Qué rico!  On Wednesday, Alex left and Sophie and I were both working, so, Beth spent a good part of her day at the spa.  Tough life.  After the spa, Beth and I discovered that three pupusas was a little too much to have in one sitting.  So much for feeling great after the spa, right?

The view from Izalco
Dan arrived on Thursday and we whisked him away to Esperanto for dinner.  Another delicious meal.  On Friday, we bade farewell to Beth and then set out to hike Izalco, another volcano that is right next to Santa Ana.  Izalco was formed in the 1770s and erupted almost continuously for about 200 years until 1966.  In those 200 years, it grew to 2100'!  The contrast between the jungle of Cerro Verde and the moonscape of Izalco is pretty awesome.  However, the hike up there is not the most fun in the world.  Imagine hiking down and up a giant, 2100' V and then returning.  However, it was pretty cool.  At the top, we were accosted by flies and locust-like grasshoppers.  The grasshoppers flew around and had pretty red wings.  We tried to get pictures of them flying, but to no avail.  Also at the top, there are a lot of vents with steam coming out of them.  Unfortunately, there were a good bit of clouds up there, so, we didn't have fantastic views, but, it was a cool experience nonetheless.  When hiking back up to the parking lot, we hiked behind a British traveler who was on month 7 of her year long trek around the world.  She was determined to make it to the top without stopping, so, we didn't stop, which, was all the better.  Stopping while climbing the equivalent of a 200 story building just gives you time to feel the pain.  There was an ice cream guy at the top selling ice cream out of a homemade, insulated cardboard box.  Where there is a need, someone will fill it!

The Brit was going to catch a bus back to Santa Tecla, so, we decided to give her a lift.  On the way back, we stopped at Lago de Coatepeque for a little food and Jet Ski action.  Once again, we had great food followed by an awesome time on the jet skis.  I don't think I realized how much I missed the lakes in Tennessee until I got here and was reminded about how sweet lakes are.  The lakes in Virginia are just too far away from everything.  We dropped the Brit off in Santa Tecla, never to be seen again.  We got back and made some dinner before calling it an early night.

The next day, we awoke at 5am to get to the bike shop at 5:30 in order to go mountain biking.  The guy who was going to take us didn't show, so, another bike shop employee graciously agreed to take us.  From the bike shop, we rode about 1km on the road before getting onto a dirt road.  It became obvious that our guide didn't know the trails that well, but, he wasn't afraid to ask directions.  After a bit, we found a group of about 15 Salvadoreños and started riding with them.  Originally, we had thought that we were going to ride to La Libertad from San Salvador - as in, all downhill.  However, this trip turned out to be anything but.  We climbed for a solid hour or hour and a half up the side of the San Salvador volcano.  We went through Parque Espino before ending up on the road up to El Boquerón.  It was a gorgeous ride.  We then bombed it down the volcano.  Sophie and Dan were the only ones with V-Brakes - suckers!  We essentially ended up in Santa Tecla, so, we made our way back to where the other bikers were going (near the embassy) before heading back to Bicimania.  Riding on the roads was an experience.   If you want to see where we went, I made a guess on a google map.

After the bike ride, we all took a nap before rallying for a Brazilian steakhouse at the Intercontinental Hotel.  Another delicious meal of all you can eat meat for like $30 each.  Sweet.  We then went back to a friend's house where I proceeded to "test" the friendships I've made here over the past 3 months.  It's still unclear how that will play out, but, here's to hoping for the best :)

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