Thursday, May 17, 2012

Solent is almost ready to leave El Salvador

We have finally put the name on the boat (5 years late) and done a lot of maintenance to Solent while enjoying our stay at Bahia del Sol. We have upgraded the pump for the Air con so we are now fine in the warmer waters of the tropics, repaired the outboard fuel line which was broken in large swell, arranged for Solent to have its bottom cleaned and zinc's changed (tomorrow), the shelf is back up after falling in some big waves and the cracked radar mount has been fixed.

Seeing the Port Captain in an hour to check out of the country and immigration in the morning before heading to Costa Rica via a run down the coast of Nicaragua, but first a much needed beer and lunch down the estuary from our marina following a successful dingy test!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

I forgot to mention my new bag

Back in Mexico, my wonderful husband bought me this new organic leather purse. Amazingly he found it in a hardware store whilst looking for some epoxy.

San Salvador

We headed into to the capital of El Salvador today. It was mainly a provisioning run to Walmart for Groceries and to see if we could pick up new pump for the Air-Conditioning unit. With the increased water temperature now >90 Degrees F (32 C), the AC has been struggling to get get rid of the heat and shutting down. A higher flow rate pump is required so we were trying our best to track one down.

We did manage to include a few sites though and took a trip to the number two attraction in San Salvador which is the church Iglesia Elrosario. When we arrived, it didn't look like much from the outside, more like a bomb shelter than a church so we thought we might be in the wrong place.

Once we went inside we found something totally unique and quite amazing.

It had the most unique stained glass windows on three walls.

After picking up a new pump from a great hardware store i decided to pick up some Pupusa's for the trip home from the Pupusa stand by the church.

Trying to order it was difficult. I tried to order two which i thought was two dollars, but was given back one dollar and given two packs of four Pupusa's. It was a cheap meal as i got 8 Pupusa's and salad for a buck!

When we got back to the boat it was over 100 Degree's F (38 C) inside the boat. Serena and I got busy installing the new pump as soon as we could so we could cool the boat down.

We had it fitted in a little under an hour and the air con is now working fine. We even got woken up in the middle of the night to a freezing boat that was 60 deg (15 C) so it's working fine again!

The Celeb's of Zacatecoluca

Shortly after arriving in Bahia Del Sol, Serena and I took a bus into the closest town, Zacatecoluca (Zacate). The other cruisers in the marina had told us that they had done the trip by bus rather than taking a taxi, so we thought we would also try the same. It did involve changing buses half way through the trip which would be challenging as despite our three Spanish lessons we still have little communication skills! We were also told that the town is never really visited by tourists so be prepared to be stared at when we arrived.

As we approached the gate to the hotel we heard the horn of the bus blasting as they drove down the street (it is sounded often to let people know it's a approaching). There are not any bus stop signs, but we just waved out to the driver and he stopped for us. I say stop, but we found out that the bus only comes to a complete stop for old ladies and the amount it slows down is dependent on your age. Let's just say that if your a teenage male then it's a run and jump to make your ride!

The other patrons were surprised when we got on, but everyone was friendly enough. Soon after a man came down the bus shaking some coins in his hands and saying something in Spanish. We weren't sure if he was selling something or acting in some official capacity, but everyone else was giving him some coins so i gave him a dollar for Serena and I and he seemed happy and carried on. Definitely a cheap way to travel.

We had to change buses half way through in a place called Arco. Even we could understand this meant arch and is essentially where one road crosses over another under an arched bridge. This is the main bus change point and Serena and I joined our fellow travelers with their bundles of sticks, livestock and replacement car parts as we all scrambled up a dirt path up the hill to the road above us and our change point.

When we got to the top of the hill a man was calling out Zecate, Zecate which is a short form of Zacatecoluca. We quickly jumped on the bus which had a Real Madrid football scarf across the front, stuffed animals hanging from the roof, dance music blasting from the stereo and flashing lights. This bus drove as fast you'd imagine a mobile dance club would and we were soon in Zacatecoluca and jumped off on the main street.
As soon as we jumped off all heads turned our way and a girl came running up to us and started pointing at her camera and wanted to take pictures of us. Serena had a number taken of her first before she started taking pictures of me. She seemed pretty overwhelmed by it all and we quickly headed down the road before word got out. Everyone seemed friendly enough and a lot of people just wanted to come up and talk to us, but with my Spanish limited to being able to order beers and them having no english we weren't able to communicate effectively. They didn't have any beers with them so i just smiled.

You can buy all sorts of things in Zecate. Baby chicks were a big item on the streets.

If Serena had had her way on the trip so far we would have had three puppies, two chicks, a parrot and a lizard! Thank goodness that quarantine procedures between countries make such discussions quick and we still have no pets onboard Solent.

All the stalls seemed to specialize in torches, radio's and TV aerials. Amazingly they all seemed to sell the same items with very little differentiation between each stall.

We didn't buy much, but i did take a look at some really cheap Swiss watches!

These types of buses take people to places where the main buses don't go

They say everyone has five minutes of fame and we more than used all that up in Zacatecoluca!

Bahia Del Sol

We have been in El Salvador for a week now and have spent lots of time landlubbing. The marina is part of a hotel complex named Bahia Del Sol that is mostly used by more wealthy Salvadorians that own time share's. We have the boat in a slip, but there are also mooring buoys close by with which you can pay a small daily fee to use the hotel facilities.   The hotel has a nice restaurant and two swimming pools, one overlooking the marina and the other overlooking the beach. Lee is loving the $1 beers.

On Monday we explored the hotel and took a walk around the surrounding area.

Hotel Bahia Del Sol

We took a nice long walk along the beach which is beautiful but covered in debris, mostly huge chunks of wood but there's also an alarming number of shoe soles, apparently good for making fires. 
You cannot swim in the water, if you tried you would probably not make it out alive as the current and waves are so strong. 

 There is an abandoned boat on the beach which we later found out is used as a platform for a DJ during the weekend beach parties.
Katie was very excited to find her first sand dollar.  

 We came across a sunken house that someone had built on the sand! I don't think they dug any foundations which is a shame as the house didn't look too old and was actually very nice. As we approached the house we discovered that it was occupied by a few stray dogs so we quickly backed away and moved on towards a village which was beyond some storm torn palapa restaurants.
The wise man built his house upon the rocks...

Heading in shore to the village

The following evening we took a walk to the local Pupuseria with a group of cruisers from the marina to try pupusa's. A pupusa is a traditional Salvadoran dish that is made from a thick, hand made corn tortilla and filled with either soft cheese, refried beans, some sort of meat paste or lorocco which is a vine flower bud. Lee and I ordered 5 pupusa's and 2 beers which only cost $5. 
After dinner we walked to the beach where our friend Zack had built a bonfire. Zack had just switched out his kerosene stove for a propane one and wanted to get rid of the huge tank of kerosene that he had on his boat so we all decided that it was a good opportunity to have some beers on the beach while we burnt stuff. He is sailing across the pacific on his own and is leaving El Salvador any day now. 

Eventually the whole tank ended up on the fire 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Surfing Solent into El Salvador

We have just arrived (yesterday) at our first stop in El Salvador at a marina in Bahia del Sol. This is a marina with a difference as to access it you have to cross a sand bar that has some of the best surf in Central America; were talking some big waves to cross. To get across requires good timing and full speed while riding the surf across the sand bar. I've never taken our boat surfing before so it was an apprehensive time for Serena and I.

Our guide arrived on a jet ski and after a lot of positioning just behind the breaking waves we were told to gun it at full speed. I slammed the boat to max throttle and we sped towards shore. The wave caught up with us and as we started to surf took us from 7 knots to 11 knots as we rode the wave across. An adrenaline rush to be sure.

The staff at the hotel and marina we were staying at were there to meet us with cocktails along with the customs and immigration officials. A great start to our stay in El Salvador and time for a much needed rest after a week at sea.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

6 days at sea and three country's later

After 6 nights at sea we have arrived at Bahia del sol, El Salvador and have just dropped anchor outside the estuary. We have to wait here until high tide which is in about 4 hours time when a pilot on a jet ski will come and guide us in to the channel which is not visible due to the waves and across the sandbar. It's supposed to be an exciting ride in so hopefully we have a smooth approach.

We encountered our first Pacific squall/thunderstorm off the coast of Guatemala yesterday. We had a good track of it on the radar and was able to head for the narrowest path through to the other side. We had some fairly big seas on the way through with winds of 35 knots and heavy rain, but the boat handled great and it was quite a fun time after 6 days of relatively calm sea. After about 2-3 hours we were through and into calmer waters.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Crossing the border

Just two hrs until we reach the border and then we'll be in Guatemala. Four nights at sea so far and just another two to go before we make El Salvador.
We're sad to loose our buddy boat silver lining after their engine broke but were glad that they were able to tow themselves safely into the marina. We'll be waiting for you in Panama Silver Lining.