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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

El Salvador quintessentially

EL SALVADOR | Friday, 3 February 2012 | Views [1295]

Within a few days I went through perhaps the ugliest border crossing I've ever seen (Penas Blancas) to perhaps the most beautiful, and that's the crossing into northeastern El Salvador! It's a beautiful setting high in the mountains with a log cabin-like customs office and unlike most Central American border posts, there are no big rig trucks, duty-free shops, money changers, street vendors, beggars, or rubbish. All that's here aside from the many guards is peace and tranquility. The officials scrutinized my passport page by page and thought I was missing a stamp from Costa Rica, and they were about to make a call but in the end they found it. As much time as they spent checking my passport I didn't even get an entry stamp; I've been to various countries (El Salvador, Cuba, Luxembourg, etc.) that I have no official certification of visiting. Officially I've now been to 21 countries! The driver of the pickup truck was nice enough to wait for me when he could have just driven off. Being high in the mountains it is nice and cool here, and the pine forests make a rather surreal setting. There was a very bloody civil war in the early '80s but it seems that this area couldn't be more peaceful. As I was in the bed of the pickup, we passed through the small community of Sabanetas as we dropped off and picked up a few other people. It's almost illegal in a place like this not to pick people up. Finally at around 4:00 PM, after two countries, several hours, and a half-dozen or so lifts I was in Perquin. When I asked at a couple of places if I could use the phone, they told me that I had to go to the internet cafe. My only choice was to use Skype, but Erick's phone went straight to voicemail meaning it was dead. U.S. dollars are used to El Salvador, so I don't have to worry about exchanging money or dealing with conversion rates. For now though I had a problem: Erick's phone was dead and I didn't know exactly where he lived. Perquin is a small enough place, so I visited the police station and asked if they knew a guy named "Erick Avila" but they didn't and they suggested that I stay at a hotel. After asking two other people, a gorgeous Salvadorena told me she knows exactly where he lives! And that it's south of Perquin. Her and I got on a bus (actually a covered pickup at $0.25 a ride) and we headed south. About 30 minutes after we got off right in front of his house! Erick's mother greeted me with open arms and had a plate of eggs, sausages, and rice ready for me. Coffee on the side was a nice compliment! Erick and Christian (a German CouchSurfer) had shown up minutes earlier and Erick wondered how I found the place, but the brain works in more ways than one! My friends, family, teachers, professors, etc. always marvel at how brilliant I am, so it's situations like this when it's time to show it. When I went to visit the toilet I noticed a raccoon go into the house, and I tried to warn Erick's mother but it turned out it was their pet. It's the first time I've ever seen someone keep a raccoon as a pet.

Erick's home is very rustic and I describe it as "the quintessential El Salvadorean experience" with an outdoor kitchen, wood-fire stove, and a house close to nature.

There is no internet, no hot water, no shower (there's a communal shower up the road) and no creature comforts, and to flush the toilet you must dump water in with a bucket, and you brush your teeth from a drum full of water. Christian is riding his bicycle around Central America; he started in Panama and it turned out he came through the same border crossing. I can see myself riding my bicycle around Europe or New Zealand, but not Central America. Out here it would either get trashed, stolen, or busted (owing to the often poor state of roads here). Tonight is Christian's birthday! After dinner we all sang "Feliz Cumpleanos" and had a slice of dulce de leche cake.

What a special day! And the cake was tasty. It's much like how I showed up at Angie's house in Havana the day before his birthday. Erick has two younger sisters and his father is a furniture builder. Erick works as a beekeeper. After dinner and cake, the three of us walked to the store to get some beer. Whilst I was planning on rolling out my sleeping pad and sleeping on the floor, Erick let me sleep in his bed and he decided to sleep in the hammock in his room. Christian slept on an inflatable mattress that he carries with him. It's very peaceful here! You can open the windows to a beautiful night sky and listen to the songs of crickets (or the bark of dogs). El Salvador, I've been here one night, and you're beautiful! That's for sure!

Tags: adventures, mountains, nature, people


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