Thursday 8th November -San Salvador – Santa Ana
This morning first thing I headed back down the Museum of Anthropology to see the rest of the exhibits. To my surprise, this time they offered me a free guided tour. A great chance to practice my Spanish and super informative too! My guide Alberto was great and super interested to learn about Australia too which was fun to explain to him. Upstairs we visited the exhibits showing the religious and funerary practices of the region which are still super interesting and colourful to this day. They also had an exhibit showing the agricultural methods used in the region and the methods for producing textiles and other artisanal goods. I am now super obsessed with this museum – one of the best I have been to this year!
After another couple of hours exploring the museum it was time to head to the bus terminal to find a bus to take us on to our next destination – Santa Ana. Justin and Trisha had decided to join me for this part of the trip. The great part of travelling in this country is that the distances are so short, after only one and a half hours we were pulling into Santa Ana and walking through the hot dusty streets to the world famous hotel – Casa Verde. There was a lot of hype about this hotel so I didn´t want to get my hopes up too much but boy were the good reviews well deserved. From the minute we walked into the place the owner Carlos and his staff member Alex were awesome. We got a complete tour of all the facilities including the pool, tv room, two kitchens, chill out areas, hammocks and rooftop sunset deck. There was also a fully stocked fridge on an honour system. The rooms were also awesome, with plenty of space for my stuff, no bunk beds and lockers that had charge points in them!
We set out to explore the town. There were a couple of beautiful churches as usual and a lovely town square. There was also an amazing theatre building which we could only admire from the outside as there was a show on that evening. We ate some delicious pupusas – I tried some new types – one of which was a type of spinach and was delicious and another which was a type of flower which was also great! I had an early night as I had a full blow cold by this stage.
Friday 9th November – Santa Ana
For today we had organised to hike the Santa Ana volcano. It was one that I had heard a lot about on my travels – not a super difficult or long hike but with amazing views at the top. We ended up taking a car and a driver so that we could visit Lake Coatepeque which is at the base of the volcano afterwards and catch the sunset. Our driver dropped us off right at the point where the hike would begin. Turned out that about 200 people were climbing the volcano that day – a little bit unlucky as there was a large school group joining the hike that day. We set off in our large group, and soon arrived at the ticket office where we had to pay for our ticket to hike and wait for the guide to open the gate that would allow us to continue our hike. At first we were hiking through pretty thick cloud forest, which soon turned into more barren and exposed land as we got closer to the rim of the volcano. The hike only took about 45 minutes to the top and once we arrived we had amazing views down into the lake at the bottom, crystal blue colours. The layers of the volcano were super interesting to look at – you could see what must have been the different large eruptions from the volcano as large black lines in the rocks. It was beautiful. The lake below was very sulfuric and was constantly making a large steam clouds – mystical! We could also see right down to Lake Coatepeque way down in the valley below. After about 40 minutes at the top it was time to head back down the side of the volcano, slowly slowly this time behind the masses of teenage El Salvadoreans! At the bottom we found our driver Mario and headed about another hour downhill to the lake. We drove around it on the rocky road to the place that was perfect to see the sunset! We arrived at about 4pm, just in time for a late afternoon swim in the lake off the jetty in the restaurant – a diving competition and some beers as the sun set behind the volcano we had just climbed. It was the perfect end to a really great day!
Saturday 10th November. Santa Ana – Juayua (Ruta de las Flores)
This morning it was time to say goodbye to my favourite hostel ever and head off in the bus to our next destination, Juayua on the Ruta de las Flores. Once again, it was a pretty short journey in the chicken bus, with amazing views from the cliffside roads. The town of Juayua was really sweet, and on the weekends they have a Gastronomic festival! Our hotel had amazing views out over the surrounding volcanoes, beautiful on the sunny blue-sky day! We next headed straight to the town centre to sample some of the food at the food festival. It was just starting up and there were a lot of meat grill stands but I managed to find some great grilled prawns and salad which were delicious. We wandered a little bit around town and headed back to the hotel to relax for the afternoon and plan for the upcoming days. In the evening we headed out for some amazing pupusas – supposedly the best in El Salvador and I have to say they were pretty damn delicious!