Dunlaps in San Salvador

Online journal of the Dunlaps' adventures in San Salvador.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Fireworks in San Salvador

A couple of my good friends in Spartanburg give me a hard time (deservedly so) for not updating my blog more often. The truth is that once you get into a routine, life is not really blog worthy. We go to school, we buy groceries, we go to the dentist. With the exception of the occasional small earthquake here and there, life here is not that different from South Carolina.

For now, we are tour guides for our guests, with lots of adventures to write about. We have been working our way through the Central American guide book that we bought at Barnes and Noble in 2005. I was amazed yesterday to realize we had done almost every “day trip” from San Salvador that the book suggested.

We hired a guide to manage some of our trips. Our Volvo does not seat seven passengers comfortably, and the big van that Carlos drives is very comfortable. (Not to mention that he makes far fewer wrong turns than we ever do...) Our first outing was to a park called Los Planes and then on to La Puerta del Diablo. This was my fourth trip to this amazing rock formation, so I felt confident that there would be no surprises. Wrong! It was so windy that I thought we would lose our footing. We climbed to the cave - not a strenuous feat but more stairs than my mother wanted to take on. We got back in the van pretty quickly because the dust was flying, but not before I was able to properly embarrass Maggie by dancing in the parking lot. I love the music they play at the little stand that sells the pirated cd’s. You can buy them for $1. Carlos’s father bought one and we played it for the rest of the day.

We crossed the city and headed for El Boqueron - the crater. You can see the mountain peak from where we live, but it is misleading. The volcanic crater is actually behind it. Something else caught us by surprise at the top - it was cold! With the combination of the wind and the drop in temperature, we didn’t stay long at the crater. There was a lot of vegetation growing on the walls of the crater, which I didn’t expect to see. It was like a forest growing on steep cliffs. My desire to hike to the bottom is gone now - that is a really deep hole. We had been warned numerous times that visiting the crater was not safe, but we felt very secure. There were lots of policemen there, including three on horseback. The trip was well worth it. As we headed back down, Maggie mentioned that there was something on the back of the van. Turns out it was a little boy holding on to get a ride home, I guess. We stopped and he got off - glad she noticed he was hanging there.

We rewarded Nana with a nice lunch after her two climbs - pupusas and chicken (really hen) soup from a restaurant on the other side of the mountain called Café Miranda. The view and the warm sun perked her right back up. We didn’t realize until we went to pay for lunch that the restaurant had no power (when they couldn’t take our credit card). Guess our lunch was cooked on a gas stove or an open fire - either way it was really good.

We’ve now seen both of the big museums in town. It’s amazing what you put off when you live here, and then how much you see when visitors come. We finally made the trek yesterday to the nearest site for Mayan ruins, called San Andres. The museum was very simple but informative, and our guide was delightful. Of course we would have been lost without Carlos; he translated the tour into English for us. I ended up learning a lot about “anil,” which is indigo. You’d think a good South Carolina girl would know how they harvest an indigo crop, but I had no clue. Turns out when the Spaniards found no gold here, they ended up exporting indigo instead. Will was fascinated by the battles with the Spaniards. Evidently the Salvadorans put up a valiant fight. Will asked who won, and Carlos simply said, “We speak Spanish, don’t we?”

We then went on to Santa Ana. The town is famous for its architecture. The money in Santa Ana originally came from the surrounding coffee plantations. Most of the buildings date back to 1900, and they are well preserved. I’d never been to the city square on a Saturday. It was packed. We ate lunch, visited friends, and Nana came home with a sack full of oranges, tangerines, grapefruit and avocado, all picked from the yard of the family we went to see.

James and I managed to squeeze in our 20th wedding anniversary this week. But for New Year's Eve, we’re laying low literally and figuratively. The word is that New Year’s Eve fireworks are louder than Christmas Eve. I can’t imagine. We have bought a few of our own to shoot. Hope the kids don’t have high expectations, because James stocked up mostly on sparklers and volcancitos (little volcanoes). But we’ll set something ablaze and welcome 2007. Happy New Year, y’all!

P.S. I’m posting this the day after New Year’s. The fireworks last night were incredible, but the funniest part was missing the ball dropping in New York City. We completely forgot about the time difference, and tuned in an hour too late...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

We miss you all!! It is a special Treat for us when Will gets a chance to call. Happy New Year and can't wait to see you in the summer!

The Burtons.

12:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Dunlaps, I've been following your blog for about 8 months now; I'm from El Salvador and a Sergeant in the Marines currently deployed to Iraq. This is the first time in 4 months of being here that I am able to read your posts. It's very interesting to read about my native country from an American family perspective. Thank you very much for spreading the word about the good things and good expereinces El Salvador has to offer, happy new year and take care in El Pulgarcito.

Ruben Rivera, Sgt USMC

11:40 AM  

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