Log #63h More about El Salvador

November 4, 2019 in Log Series 60-69, Logs by Series, Series 63, The Logs

Log #63h More about El Salvador

Puesta del Sol, Nicaragua

Jan. 24, 2019

Hi Folks,

We are waiting for a good weather window before leaving for Costa Rica, 145 miles away, hopefully on Jan. 27. After getting hit by the Papagayos winds crossing the Gulfo de Fonseca, I give way to Judy’s concerns for calm weather, even if I would have left a few days ago. There are a couple of other boats here that we met in Bahia del Sol in El Salvador who are waiting for the same calm weather window.

This log has a bit about the political situation in Central America and El Salvador, as well as more of the enjoyable life in Bahia del Sol, in El Salvador. I know that areas in the northern USA and in Canada have been having a cold snowy winter, but the climate down here continues to be perfect with hot weather, 30° C or 86° F during the day, down to 26° C or 75° F at night, and no rain. We are also below the hurricane zone, but have to watch the winds blowing across the isthmus from the Caribbean.

To give me some feedback, please let me know what are your favourite pictures of my last few logs, and whether you would like more or fewer pictures in my accounts.

All the best,

Aubrey

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Log #63h More about El Salvador

Puesta del Sol, Nicaragua

Jan. 22, 2019

El Salvador, officially the Republic of El Salvador, is the smallest and the most densely populated of the Central America countries. According to Wikipedia, the name El Salvador was originally “Provincia De Nuestro Señor Jesus Cristo, El Salvador Del Mundo” (“Province of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World”), which was subsequently abbreviated to “El Salvador” (The Savior). The flag is similar to several other Central American countries. The first known visit by Spaniards to what is now Salvadoran territory was made by the Spanish admiral, Andrés Niño, who led a Spanish expedition to Central America. He disembarked in the Gulf of Fonseca on May 31, 1522,

The Spanish ruled from 1525 to 1821. In 1821 in light of unrest in Guatemala and other Central America countries, Spanish authorities capitulated and signed the Act of Independence of Central America, which released all of the Captaincy of Guatemala (comprising current territories of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica and the Mexican state of Chiapas) from Spanish rule and declared its independence. In 1821, El Salvador joined Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua in a union named the Federal Republic of Central America. (full disclosure – Most of the above material has been copied from Wikipedia)

It was unfortunate that these countries could not stay together as a confederation as the U.S. and Canada did, but they did not have the democratic and parliamentary background from the British and so fractured and by 1841 the union was dissolved. This is one of the reasons the flags of Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and El Salvador are similar in their blue stripes, differentiated by only the symbols in the middle. We can use the same flag on our starboard spreader for El Salvador, Honduras (which we are not visiting this trip), and Nicaragua. The blue stripes for Costa Rica were reduced by the red band of their flag.

El Salvador

 

 

 

 

 

                Honduras

 

     

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                    Nicaragua

               Costa Rica

The history of El Salvador is one of conflict between the aristocracy and landowners keeping down the peasants and landless with unfettered use of the military. This conflict blew up with the assassination of Óscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, who denounced injustices and massacres committed against civilians by government forces. This was the spark for the civil war which lasted from 1980 to 1992. The U.S. and President Reagan could not risk El Salvador going communist and so supported the military. As Wikipedia says, “The Salvadoran Army‘s US-trained Atlacatl Battalion was responsible for the El Mozote massacre where more than 800 civilians were murdered, over half of them children, the El Calabozo massacre, and the murder of UCA scholars.” It was a horrible civil war with atrocities on both sides, but far greater by the military because of their greater firepower and support from the U.S. There were stories of free-fire zones where the military was able to wipe out entire communities “thought” to be supportive of the rebels (not unlike some American efforts in Viet Nam). The end in 1992 gave an amnesty to all sides, greatly resented by the people as the atrocities of the military were so much more horrendous. Memories still linger today. In Suchitoto where Judy went for her Spanish immersion course, there was a map showing half a dozen area communities wiped out by the military during that conflict.

Even now flags supporting the socialist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) party are to be seen in many areas. Apparently, the two major parties are at extreme opposite poles of their policies.

 But enough of politics. We found the people to be friendly and helpful. We delighted in eating fish dinners at a couple of stilt palapa restaurants on the sand bars of the estuary and up one of the rivers. The saying is “if you are hungry don’t go there for food”, as the service is laid back, friendly, “rustic”, casual, and prolonged. These palapas are palm thatched-roofed, open platforms on stilts. The first one we went to was on a sand bar with several other palapas stretched out on the drying shallows. We went at half tide to climb up the rickety ladder and shaky wooden walkway to the large open space of the palapa.

Note the hammocks on the far side. There were several strung up for casual use to lounge around for the afternoon.

 

 

Bill and several others with us knew the family and had a good old time talking with them.  A few children played around the dinghies keeping them in the water as the tide went out, stranding the ladder on the drying sandy beach. We tipped them a few dollars when we left for keeping our dinghies afloat so we wouldn’t have to drag them across the sand at low water into the channel.

After a few beers, they brought out a tray with several freshly caught fish of various sizes for our selection. We selected a large fish for the two of us, and sure enough forty-five minutes later it was presented to us, crisply fried and divided in two with some salad and vegetables. The fires used were wood on concrete blocks with large fry pans to grill the fish, coated with a salt mixture to give them the nice brown crisp character, Mmmm!

Stilt palapa at low tide

There were no services out there such as electricity (although some may have had generators for lights), washrooms, water, etc. There was a washroom of sorts at one end with a couple of concrete blocks for a seat, and the waste went into the water ten feet below. At low tide, all the sand bar palapas were high and dry, and the customers could wander below them or paddle or swim in the shallows. The cost was minimal at about $12.00 each for the meal and beverages.

The second one I went to, while Judy was up in Suchitoto, was further up one of the rivers, alongside the mangroves. One of the ladies with us took a box of toys for the three children of the family who operated the palapa. The ladies showed me the wood fire on concrete blocks with the large shallow frying pan balanced between two blocks. Primitive, but effective.

 Cruisers are a helpful lot, and we appreciated the help of Neil on Raven who has a heavy-duty welding machine, and who welded extra supports for our stern rail. The pressure of the Dinghytow caused our stern rail to flex under heavy conditions to the extent we lashed lines to hold it in place. Neil welded a couple of angular supports to strengthen the stern pulpit. Thanks Neil!

 

 

 A few cruisers, some expats and a local gentleman run a free English class for any interested locals. These are attended by ten to twenty individuals for each class, three times a week. I helped out with several while there. They were a good group of interested individuals, from children to adults. The reports I got were that English instruction in the schools was quite poor, and those who came out were quite interested in learning English. Judy and I donated a package of notebooks and pens. The classes were held in a local restaurant during off-hours. It was not the best-organized effort, and I made several recommendations to improve the program, especially if it was to get NGO funding.

The last such English class I helped out with was Mount Airy in Grenada 10 years ago.

More about our departure from Bahia del Sol and our heavy passage to Nicaragua in my next log.