Log #63g Life in Bahia del Sol, El Salvador

November 3, 2019 in Log Series 60-69, Logs by Series, Series 63, The Logs

Log #63g Life in Bahia del Sol, El Salvador
Puesta del Sol, Nicaragua
Jan. 17, 2019

We enjoyed El Salvador, especially here, where we were at Bahia del Sol on Costa del Sol (another sunshine coast), thanks to Bill and Jean, American expats that do much for the cruisers in the area. We are even considering returning to Bahia del Sol in late March or early April from wherever we are in Costa Rica or even Panama, to leave Veleda for the summer while we return to Elliot Lake. More about this decision when it comes time to make it.

As mentioned in Log #63e we were greeted by a bevy of cruisers, including not only Bill and Jean, but also Rick and Mary, cruisers from our home North Channel Yacht Club near our residence in Elliot Lake, Ontario. In addition were a couple of waiters with spiced rum drinks courtesy of the Hotel Bahia del Sol, a couple of marina workers who helped us alongside, and a couple of immigration and port capitan officials to escort us to their office. Formalities were completed efficiently, and at moderate costs, less than $50.00. The marina, part of the Hotel Bahia del Sol, was inexpensive at 67 cents a foot. They use American dollars in El Salvador.

We stayed in the marina for a few nights, then went out to anchor across from the marina for a few days. The hotel/marina has a convenient policy to allow dinghies to land and the crew to use the hotel facilities for $15.00 a week. This included use of washrooms, showers, the pool, internet, reduced rates for the restaurant, and 2 for 1 drinks and $1.00 beers at Happy Hours each day. We initially planned on staying at anchor for a week or so, but Bill invited us to use one of his moorings while we were there. He and Jean have a dozen or so mooring balls off their floating dock for which he charges $35.00 a week or $150.00 a monthly, most of which were occupied by boats on long term storage or others with active cruisers living aboard and enjoying the community and cruiser activities. Sounded good, and so we went for it. Thanks Bill.
The weekly activities included a pot luck each Sunday at another expat American couple, Lin and Lou’s lovely home down the inlet, with an expansive lawn adjacent to the water side, and delightful pool and jacuzzi beside the tiled patio. A panga was chartered to pick up most of the cruisers to take them down to a floating dock at their place. (See the map below)

Judy bringing our contribution to the potluck                                                       The pool area

We also enjoyed a pleasant Christmas dinner there the Sunday before Christmas, complete with a couple of guitars and a violin to sing Christmas carols.





The group at Christmas (I am in the Santa hat at the right)

Another weekly activity was to go for pupusas at Bill and Jean’s next door neighbours. Pupusas are El Salvador’s most popular food, with many food stands featuring these fried pastries. When we were in Suchitoto we went to a pupuserie (a restaurant featuring mainly pupusas) and learned how to make them.

To make pupusas, corn meal or rice dough is hand kneaded into a ball, and then patted into a patty. The hands have a bit of oil on them to assist in this. Then small amounts of various stuffings are placed in the middle of the patties, the edges folded in and blended by hand into the dough. The stuffings include combinations of cheese, re-fried beans, chopped onions, garlic, green peppers, avocados, jalepeno peppers, and chicharon (minced cooked pork), usually only two or three stuffings in one pupusa. In the picture above refried beans are being added to the patties.

The pancake is then fried on a hot oiled grill, many over wood fires (as at Bill and Jean’s neighbours), until the cheese melts and the inside is quite hot. These are usually eaten by hand (although, I frequently use a fork and knife, the same way I eat pizza), and may be accompanied with curtido, a mixture of pickled cabbage and vegetables. Grilling the pupusas (note my new haircut)

Bill has several locals who work for him and will do a variety of services for cruisers. Bill will arrange for them to deliver water, clean hulls, scrape hull bottoms, and remove the mooring balls so they do not bump up against the boat tied to the mooring lines. The water is delivered in large open plastic barrels in the panga, and a battery powered pump delivers water into our tanks. We paid a nominal amount of ten dollars for about 50 litres of water. Another young lad brought us out some coconuts. One of Judy’s favourite activities was to dinghy over to Bill’s landing and get pan francesca (French bread) , eight buns for $.50 cents. A local lady walks down the shoreline about 7:00 am with a basket of breads on her head, and blows a bicycle horn to indicate her approach. Judy hops into the dinghy when she hears the horn, and returns ten minutes later with a bag of fresh bread. It was not quite as creative as the French Baker who would deliver croissants and other delicacies to our boat when we were in Barra de Navidad, but we appreciated fresh buns many mornings.

A 15 minute dinghy ride took us up to La Herradura, a small impoverished town for supplies. Low tide leaves several large sand banks exposed, and at half tide they are totally submerged and not visible through the muddy brackish water, that even our dinghy could inadvertently ground on. Our second trip up there we knew the area better and where the shallows were. They even have a few bends with withies stuck at the edges of the shallows to guide the local pangas though. The main dock area is a dirty congested, muddy landing of old concrete blocks, the remains of an old dock visible at half tide or lower. A kid came to take our line and indicated he would take care of the dinghy for us. OK, standard practice to pay some one to look after the dinghy ashore.

We initially thought the town was near the water, but soon realized it was quite a way up the road. We hailed a motorized tricycle taxi to take us up to the main market area. It is a maze of narrow congested stalls for vegetables fruits and meat. We would not try any meats from such a location with no refrigeration in the stalls. Over to one side at the end was a general store type area with dry goods, shoes and flip flops, dolls, and various cheap trinkets. At the end was their “food court”, open concrete stalls cooking a variety of finger foods, none of which we wanted to touch. Interestingly enough, there were no pupusa stands there. We passed a couple of pupuseries up the road, but none in the market. One of our visits we tried their tomales. They were recooked, wrapped up in oily corn husks. I thought we would get them in the wraps, but no, they were dropped into a waxed paper wrapper and handed to us. The dough was soft and greasy, and squished when we tried to lift them to our mouths. We could only pinch a finger full at a time. Not vert tasty, but we had to try it.

The vegetables and fruit were quite economical, but we had to be selective about what we bought. Further down the road was a regular grocery store, much cleaner, with a meat counter and freezer section, fresh vegetable and fruit and a wide variety of dry foods, soups, breads, tea, coffee, etc. They even took our visa credit card for payment. Access to bank machines was very limited in that area.

When we returned to the dock area we could not see our dinghy. We looked over the front dock, up a muddy river bank, and over by a floating dock at a restaurant. No luck. Then a kid hailed us and took us down beside an old thatched roof area to our dinghy squeezed in between several old smelly fishing pangas. The painter line was discoloured from the muddy shore lines, but the lad pulled our dinghy around so we could cross one or two pangas to get into the dinghy. We tipped him a dollar with our thanks and headed out.

The next two times we dinghied up to La Herradura we went across to the floating dock at the more modern restaurant and happily paid a dollar to whatever attendant helped us in or out. We found the locals friendly enough, especially now that Judy has a bit more Spanish at her disposal. More about her Spanish course in my next log.