Sunday 18th November – San Miguel

This morning I set off very early with another guy from the hostel to climb the San Miguel Volcano – also known as Chaparrastique Volcano. I´d heard that this volcano climb was no joke – whilst the volcano is only about 2200m high, the ascent is really slippery and the last part was on loose scree which can be dangerous. But I really can´t let an opportunity to climb a volcano pass be by so of course I signed right up for the hike! The owner of the hostel told us on the drive to the base of the volcano that Chaparrastique is considered to be in its teenage years and so is quite moody at the moment but in the future will have a huge explosion. Unfortunately no one has any idea about when this will be – hopefully not in our lifetimes! We met our guide at the base of the volcano and began our ascent of the volcano as the sun rose behind it. The first third of the climb was easy going – straight up a paved road, I was beginning to get a sense of confidence when suddenly we veered off the path onto a track where we needed bash our way through the tall grass and trees – suddenly I began to see what all the complaints had been about. If the second third of the climb was difficult, the final third was the most technical, here we needed to carefully pick our way up the slippery scree and some part were extremely steep. We took our time heading up and after a few false peaks we were finally able to see the top of the volcano. At this point the wind really picked up, adding to the sense of confusion and danger! Finally we scrambled to the top of the volcano and the views of the surrounding countryside were amazing! We could see all the way out to the Pacific Ocean in the distance and the surrounding mountains, as well as all the local towns scattered around. The summit of the volcano itself is really interesting. After reaching the top, you are able to climb down into the crater where you can see the steaming sulfur crack way down below. It's mesmerising to watch, and the whole area looks like a war zone in the desert, dry with cracks and boulders strewn everywhere.  We spent a lot of time scrambling around on the top of the volcano, taking in the views and at times holding on for dear life when the wind picked up! Heading down the volcano was probably more challenging, as there were some sections which didn't strong rocks to hold onto and were very slippery with a large fall down below if we slipped. Eventually we made it onto a lovely seam of scree were we were able to basically run down the hill which is always super fun! At the bottom of the volcano, a family had been asked to cook a delicious lunch of fresh trout for us with beans, rice and salad. The family were lovely and were surprised that we had completed the hike so quickly! We chatted about the political situation in El Salvador and they gave me a delicious dessert of Tiramisu to take with me on the bus back to San Miguel.  

Monday 19th November – San Miguel

Today Jason, Tricia and I took a self-guided walking tour of San Miguel. Its not the prettiest town but does have some nice old churches and a particularly nice old theatre; we were able to get a guided tour of the theatre from the lovely curator who explained the work of restoration on the place after a lot of the wooden structure was eaten by insects and the whole front of the building needed to be rebuilt. There was also a nice veranda which had views of the San Miguel Volcano which I had climbed yesterday. We had some ice-cream of course before heading back to the hostel for some chill time. In the afternoon we took the bus out to a nearby town called Moncagua which had lovely cenote pools which were surprisingly warm and lovely for swimming. The pools also had some tiny fish which loved to nibble on the skin of our feet which was ticklish at first but then relaxing – and they cleaned up a lot of the peeling skin on my feet which was awesome!