Thursday, October 24, 2013

2013, Day 296 - Meandering

There is a worrying pattern that we perpetuated today, getting a later start.  Because we were checking out of our room we decided that we wouldn't need to be out the door until eight o'clock.  That was because there would be breakfast and packing prior to our departure.  Given that it was our last morning in Suchitoto I got up early and wandered around the town when it was still half asleep.  There were women walking down the cobbled streets with baskets of fresh baked breads balanced on their head, dogs were napping in doorways, and people were cleaning the central square.  It was beautiful and tranquil.

I returned to our hotel a short time later to have breakfast with Francene.  Once we had eaten I headed back to the room to finish packing but got sidetracked by a couple of jumping spiders.  Fortunately the call of nature needed answering and kept me from too much distraction.  I answered and finished packing just as Robert arrived.

We packed up the truck and headed to our first stop, El Salvador's only UNESCO World Heritage site, Joya de Ceren.  It is a Mayan farming village that was buried in ash after a volcanic eruption in the year 590.  That ash fell quickly and covered some areas up to eight meters deep; these conditions helped to preserve their community very well.  Fortunately they have found no bodies which suggests that they had plenty of notice and were able to evacuate before the eruption.

Next we made our way to Cerro Verde National Park.  It is at the top of a volcano and is covered in dense jungle.  When we arrived at the top there was a thick layer of clouds obscuring the view.  Undeterred we went on a short hike to the abandoned hotel and restaurant and the accompanying viewpoint.  It was a neat place, very obviously built in the fifties with some impressive modern architecture.  Francene and I explored the area which Robert tried to keep an eye on us so we just split up and frustrated his efforts completely.  It was beautiful to walk through the rainforest as it was obscured by the clouds, that is what is pictured below.

From there we started our journey along the Ruta de las Flores, the path of the flowers.  It consists of a series of mountain communities with some distinct features but united in their proliferation of flowers and for coffee cultivation.  Given that we were on a bit of a time crunch we stopped first at Juayua which is known for its weekend craft festivals and for their black Christ in the community's largest church.  After we stopped in Apaneca to appreciate some amazing views and we ended up in Ataco where we toured the brightly-color city and were able to purchase some of the local coffee which is supposed to be the best in the region.  Before hitting the road again we stopped off at a restaurant called Portland after our fair city that is owned by a gentleman who lived there before returning to El Salvador to get a little refreshment.

Our next stop was San Salvador and on our way into the city we stopped off for dinner.  I had a very nice meal of pupusas, stuffed tortillas that are lightly fried; the ones I ordered were filled with a combination of beans, cheese, chiles, leafy green, and a local squash.  All were excellent and I already know I will miss them when we leave.

Once we filled out bellies we proceeded into the Zona Rosa where Tim's apartment it located.  It is in the nice part of town and his place on the twenty-second floor has an incredible view.  So we unloaded our bag, bid farewell to Robert, and settled in for the night.  Tomorrow will, with a little luck, be a more leisurely day but I am going to get some rest.

Canon 1D X, Canon 16-35/f2.8L Mark II
16mm, f5.6, 1/4 sec @ 100 ISO

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