Pupusas

Andrew discovered the pupusa stand our first morning in El Salvador and it quickly became his breakfast spot. 

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When ‘Love and Luck’ arrived Andrew took them their too and it quickly became the morning routine.  The mother/daughter team introduced Andrew to pupusas stuffed with the loroco flower as well as the ordinary meat, cheese and bean ones.  She eagerly got everyone to try different local drinks too.  I don’t think there was a morning when we weren’t greeted with a bright smile.

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Our last morning when everyone went for breakfast, Mark off Love and Luck asked if he could have a go at making a pupusa.  This resulted in a lot of laughter as we all watched on.

First step is to flatten out your fall of rice flour dough.

Next was the stuffing, meat, cheese and beans, followed by closing it up and re-flattening it a little.

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Finally the cooking

Our final morning’s entertainment was a cowboy strumming his guitar. Throughout the breakfast there are always cars or pickup trucks with a loudspeaker advertising what fruit or vegetables they are selling and cyclists with large baskets on the front carrying around dough or bread for sale.

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Everyone enjoying their breakfast

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The lovely ladies with the crew of Love and Luck and Utopia

Everyone has enjoyed the morning ritual of pupusas for breakfast and seeing these lovely ladies, hopefully Mexico will have something similar

Bahia del Sol Hotel

Having spent 6 weeks in El Salvador I thought I’d share some information on the facilities.  Bahia del is both a hotel and a small marina.  The hotel has mature, landscaped gardens and an immigration office, so you can do your immigration and port captain without leaving the premises.

Landscaped gardens

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Onsite immigration office

Lets not forget about the resident macaws, who are always near the office waiting for a bit of interaction from passerby’s.

There is a $15 US a week fee if you want to use Bahia del Sol’s facilities.  What does this give you?

  • dinghy dock – You can tie up your dinghy in the marina on one of the arms.

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  • the swimming pool at Bahia del Sol Hotel and their sister hotel across the road
  • use of the internet, which if you had a wifi booster you may be able to get it anchored from your boa.t otherwise you have to come ashore to use it.
  • Access to their rubbish bins to get rid of your garbage.
  • $1 beers
  • 30% of meals
  • Washing is $2 a pound, except on Tuesdays when it is $1 a pound

If you are planning to fly back to your home country or do some land based trips or you would rather be at a marina, well they have that too.  Or another options is one of the mooring buoys in front of Bill and Jean’s home for $5 US a day.

Marina on the left the mooring buoys in front of Jean and Bill’s on the right.

Jean and Bill who run the El Salvador rally frequently run events like:

  • Saturday night drinks at their house, followed by a walk to the pupusa stand  for dinner on their island.
  • Estuary trips
  • Pool parties
  • Mango Festival

Even if you choose not to attend any events, Bill and Jean can provide you with useful information on where to get things repaired or they can help organise a hire car for any trips you have planned.

I think this place is an excellent location if you are looking for a place to either leave your boat or just to stay during the hurricane season.

Back Surgery in El Salvador

After our short trip to Guatemala we returned to El Salvador and found that the persistent pain I have had in my leg for 4 months, had gotten significantly worse.  After some research we visited the Mediclinic in San Salvador, who to our surprise had doctors who spoke English.  After explaining the symptoms they gave me an injection and organised for me to have an MRI the following day.

Following the MRI we returned to the medi-clinic to discover that I had one severely herniated disc and a bulging disc.  The herniated one was squashing the nerve and causing all the pain in my leg.  I was told it wouldn’t get better without surgery and that I would risk losing feeling in my leg if I did nothing.

We saw a neurosurgeon at the medi clinic.  He was very young and was not listed on any of the hospitals, so we were a little hesitant to be the guinea pig and looked around for someone else.  After seeing two other neurosurgeons, one who wanted to charge twice the price as everyone else, we decided to go with Dr Cristobal Perla y Perla.  He organised for his daughter (also a doctor) to do a nerve study on my legs and discovered there was chronic damage to the nerves in both legs.  After seeing an endocrinologist, cardiologist, getting x-rays and blood tests we were ready for surgery.

We went in Saturday afternoon to spend the night prior to surgery.  The hospital requires a relative to stay in the hospital with you.  We are unsure if this is the procedure for everyone of just foreigners.  So unfortunately Andrew had to sleep on the couch for three night.

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Through Andrew’s Spanish and google translate we were able to communicate with the doctors and nurses to find out what was going on.  I was wheeled into the surgery ward and off to sleep I went. 

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Dr Cristobal came to check on me after my recovery and to bring me two gruesome containers.  One is the bone fragments from making a hole in my vertebrae and the other with the disc parts they removed.  My leg pain was gone immediately.  I spent two further nights in hospital, before they let me go home on the Tuesday.

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All of the nursing staff at the hospital were fabulous and Dr Cristobal is a lovely man with a great bed-side manner.

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These are the staples 11 days after surgery

11 days after surgery I went back to the doctor.  Half of the staples were removed and I was told to come back in four days to get the remove the remaining ones.  As we are off to Chiapas it will have to be done there.

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Dr Cristobal and his assistant Wendy. 

Wendy, Dr Cristobal’s assistant was fabulous, she spoke a bit of English and used google translate when she couldn’t.  She helped us get checked into the hospital and translate where necessary and helped us get parking, an all round lovely person, who made the procedure so much easier.

Information on Doctors and Neurosurgeons:

Dr Cristobal Perla y Perla Urbina (Neurosurgeon)
Locales S-1, S-2 y S – 3, Contiguo al Hospital 
de Diagnostico.  Medica, San Salvador
Telephone: 2223-0577/2235 7834/2235-7835
email: cristobalperlayperla@yahoo..com

Dr Chicas is a fabulous endocrinologist with great English and very thorough and up to date knowledge on diabetes

Dr David Ernesto Chicas Nunez
Condominio MD #224, Local 304,
31 Planta, Diagonal Dr Luis Edmundo Vasquez,
Colonia Medica, San Salvador
telephone: 2235-3665/Cell: 773-2142
email: dech89@hotmail.com

If you need a general doctor the mediclinic charges $10 US a visit with an English speaking doctor and no appointment are necessary.

Mediclinic
65 Avenida Norte
San Salvador
Telephone: 2602-2020
https://www.mediclinic.com.sv/
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday:7 am – 7 pm/Saturday: 7 am – 12 am

 

 

 

 

Driving and Border Crossings – El Salvador and Guatemala

“Life is a journey. Make the best of it.”

Prior to our trip I had read many blogs on the border crossing between El Salvador and Guatemala and I have to say our experience was easy and very uneventful.  We drove a car that we had hired in El Salvador and paid $25 for the hire car company to type up a letter to take with us to Guatemala where we crossed the border at Pedro de Alvarado.  On the El Salvador side we had to show the papers for the car and attend the immigration office.  On the Guatemala side we just went to the Immigration office.  The whole process took 15 minutes and required us to fill in no paperwork. 

On our return trip from Guatemala to El Salvador we crossed the border at Vallie Nuevo.  On the Guatemala side we just went to the immigration office.  After driving over the bridge into El Salvador we had our passports checked by an official, no immigration office and we were done.  Again the process took less than 15 minutes and required no paperwork.

The roads through Guatemala and near the coast of El Salvador were pot holed and a mixture of dirt and sealed.  The potholes were often large and you would unfortunately often not see them until it was too late.  We did have some problems with Google maps through both countries, where the instructions would say turn right and in fact the map said turn left.  Other things we found was that it was directing us up one way streets or streets where a car could not possibly fit.  Finally the major problem and you really need to check it in your planning, is that google maps will take you on the shortest route.  This route may also be the one that is unsealed, windy and the locals rarely use.  We found ourselves many times on the fastest route with very few other cars and bumping along on a jaw rattling ride and being surprised that the car made it intact.  In fact we did stop to check if we had a flat tyre on one occasion but it was just the road.  But all that being said, google maps is free so you can’t complain too much.

San Luis La Herradura

Andrew and I embarked on a short, 20 minute dinghy ride up a different arm of the estuary to the small town of San Luis La Herradura to get some provisions. On route we saw men shoveling sand into their pangas.  It turns out they come out at low tide to collect their sand and wait for the high tide to float their pangas so they can take it home.  Apparently its a bit like reclaiming land, they add the sand to their property giving them more land.

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As you arrive at the dock i San Luis La Herradura you see a few stilted restaurants which line the river bank and a ramp with pangas some for transporting people others bringing fish, clams, eels and even sharks in to sell.  A dinghy boy, or young man as was our case took the dinghy rope and tied us up, while we clambered over the clam shells to reach the ramp.

The town is a real working town and I imagine many of the residents are fishermen.  I walked over to take a photo of some of the empty pangas off another off shoot of the estuary and looked at a man’s wares that he was selling, thinking it was the bottom half of palm fonds when Andrew told me they were shark fins.  Sure enough when I looked properly the tarp was filled with shark fins of various sizes drying out in the sun.  Not sure where the rest of the shark was, I would think the shark wouldn’t be wasted as the people are not wealthy here.

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Local fishing boats in a side part of the estuary

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Some of the many estuary shark fins, I don’t think I want to swim in the river

The main road is filled with fishermen repairing their nets, pupusa stands, other small businesses and people getting on with their everyday life interrupted by the occasional old American school buses honking their horns.  We did find the local fruit and vegetable market where we stocked up and then completed our shopping at the small supermarket before catching a tuk tuk back to the ramp for $1 and loading up the dinghy.  The dinghy boys are helpful in not only retrieving your dinghy, loading your shopping, but also pushing you out and for the fee of $1. 

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It was an interesting trip and one we have repeated a few times.

Estuary Trip

After anchoring in the Estuary following our arriving in El Salvador, we were invited on an Estuary trip organised by Bill and Jean for the cruisers in celebration of Tequila day.  We decided to go, though Max and Ava opted to stay on the boat. A panga collected us and all other cruisers before we continued up the estuary.  We passed restaurants on stilts, open for lunch only as there is no electricity, fishermen working, people collecting clams in the mangroves, kids playing in the water and of course mangroves.

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Some of the local kids in one of the fishing village.  Most will get an education until 4th grade.

 

No its not really Mcdonalds.  Fishing villages spot the sides of the estuary.

After stopping and listening to the clams make their popping noises we continued to one of the local stilted restaurants.  The menu choice was two items, clams cervice style as an entree followed by either locally caught fish or shrimps.  If you chose fish then you got to choose which one you wanted.  Andrew enjoyed the clams, I’m not a fan of them, but the shrimps were delicious.  As there is no electricity or gas it is all cooked over a wood fire.

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Pick the fish you want.

 

Some of the stilt restaurants

It was an enjoyable afternoon relaxing with a cool breeze and chatting to other cruisers and learning a little about El Salvador from Bill and Jean.

El Salvador Bar Crossing – 16/3/2019

“The wish to travel seems to me characteristically human: the desire to move, to satisfy your curiosity or ease your fears, to change the circumstances of your life, to be a stranger, to make a friend, to experience an exotic landscape, to risk the unknown.” 

 Paul Theroux

After arriving in the evening of the 15th, we spend a very rolly night anchored off the river entrance waiting for daylight and high tide. 

Radio calls pursued in the morning between Utopia and Bill (who runs the El Salvador rally) to organise the pilot to guide us in.  We had to shut everything up, including the companion way boards and wait in the cockpit (life jackets on and all)  while Bill and a local met us in their panga.  After discussing the point of entry Bill guided us over the bar with very specific instructions over the radio.  We had to wait for the right moment to time with the waves, which were fairly large between 2 – 3 metres to leave and under full throttle we crossed.  We were told later that the waves were at the upper limit of us being able to come over the bar, any larger and we would have had to continue on to Chiapas. 

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Photo of Utopia crossing the bar courtesy of Bill and Jean

One of the waves following us through the bar.  Bill and crew in the panga.

After an exhilarating crossing we went up the river to the Bahia del Sol Marina where Bill and Jean met us with welcome cocktails for the adults and juice for the kids.  After the 8 hour check in, in Cost Rica it was a pleasant surprise when it took only about 20 minutes to clear in with immigration and the port captain. After paying our $14 weekly fee (internet, access to resort facilities, $1 beer and rubbish service) and $25 for the pilot we anchored in the calm anchorage.

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Us enjoying the welcome drinks on Utopia.

For information on crossing the bar click on the link here.