Wednesday, 30 September 2015

El Salvador - Part 2

 There was no camping in the end. The rain continued to fall in San Salvador and motivation to sleep under canvas disappeared down the drain along with the rainwater. Friday night saw us frequenting a local bar instead. There we came across some interesting characters. First there was the lady dancing around with a beer bottle balanced on her head - much to the security guards dismay! He tried to stop her several times but the fact that he had a Mossberg (a big gun) strapped around his neck did not put her off. She actually did extremely well considering her obvious inebriated condition. I was quietly impressed, although I made the mistake of making eye contact at one point and found her dancing in front of me demanding my full attention and approval. She was gently moved on by the barman, who was now beginning to lose his patience.

We ended up drinking with a group of locals, some of whom spoke good English. The drinks flowed and the juke box was paid handsomely. It was clear we had the same taste in music. We were pretty much rockers of the same musical era despite the varying ages around the table, and of course the different continents. The conversation flowed easily although it soon became clear that we had many different opinions on things. For example - Salvadorians are very open about their intolerance to gays. They put this down to the culture they were brought up in. They are really quite vocal about it. However, I voiced my opposing opinions and then steered the conversation away to something a little safer. A few minutes later Queen was selected on the Juke box. Clearly a popular choice as everyone started singing along. I laughed out loud and cried in jest "Oh so Freddy is OK because he can sing, right? Despite the fact that he's called Queen, he has a massive tash and he wears spandex. You can't get much more gay than our Freddy!" I was about to cry 'Hypocrisy' when Bohemian Rhapsody came on and...well what can you do but sing along!

The beer flowed as easily as the conversation and many glasses were clinked in harmony to cries of 'CHEERS'. We played all the old British and US 70s and 80s rock classics and sang along together, happy to have found this common ground.  It was then that I was asked what the UK thought of Salvadorians. Without even thinking I replied 'They think you're all gay!' My face remained as straight as possible. The group fell silent.....had I gone too far? Would they take the joke as it was intended? Had the beer clouded my judgement? A split second later, there it was - A roar of laughter and another clink of Pilsner bottles. 'You're alright Steph' they laughed, and the frivolity continued. Phew! The 'Gay' issue was not raised again. It was a good night! Thinking on certain subjects will change in time, I'm sure.

I like the Salvadorians in general. I came across no bad guys and I seemed to find something in common with the majority I met.

The next day, Gabriel and I rode to a crater lake and to the top of another Volcano. The rain stayed off and it was a pleasant enough ride. The motorcycle test here in E.S consists of nothing more than a quick ride up and down the road, and so I must admit to feeling a little 'motherly' at times, but we made it back safely, having ridden some fairly nice roads with a small off road section thrown in. We had some lovely food and saw some great views. What more can you ask for.

I said my goodbyes to the family on Sunday and headed towards the border of Guatemala. I was not sad to be leaving El Salvador if I'm honest, although I always hate saying goodbye to new friends. I had fun thanks to Gabriel but it is not a country I felt good to be in. I am glad I visited none-the-less. Perhaps I read too many facts about the violence and issues here to feel totally at ease, but aside from that, there was not much really to fall in love with. I really wanted to. I really wanted to say "Hey guys, they've got it all wrong about El Salvador' but I can't. Truth is, I was glad to get out and as soon as I crossed the border, everything felt...well nicer!

To end on a positive - The food is nice - if you like Pupusas (which I do), the every day folk are really friendly and you can get a good choice of beer. You can't really wander around at night and there are many areas you should not attempt to enter. However, the security is high and the countryside is very pretty if you know where to go. You kinda get used to the guns!

THAT was El Salvador!


  1. Thanks for the honest report! Love your blog.

  2. You have more adventure in a week than most people have in a lifetime.
    Carry on!