After the alfombra extravaganza wrapped up and the busses started running again, we tied up our hobo-packs and hit the road to El Salvador.
Crazy-ass chicken bus time!
A shuttle picked us up at 5:30am and took us to Guatemala City, where we caught a second-class bus across the border to San Salvador, where we took a cab across town to another bus station and hopped a chicken bus to El Congo. There we passed this funeral procession-
-then hiked up an on-ramp to the PanAmerican Highway (dodging cars and moto-taxis) , walked a quarter mile down the freeway and jumped on another chicken bus that headed down a long winding dirt road descending the length of a defunct volcano, where we then solved the riddle of the Sphinx, mucked out the Aegean Stables, threaded the labyrinth of the Minotaur, and bested two 4th graders in marbles without so much as a bowler to our name.
Finally we arrived at Lago Cuatepeque. The lake fills a spectacular old caldera and is reputed to be one of the most stunning bodies of water in the Americas. We certainly took a liking to it.
We weren't so much in a town as we were in a small stretch of buildings. The hostel was nice but you would be well advised to think of it more as camping than as a traditional hotel. Our room was fairly open to the elements, with vines growing in from all sides and plenty of geckos and their prey to keep us from feeling lonely.
Dinner the first night was at this hilarious restaurant, across a rickety bridge, perched on teetering stilts. But at least the food was bad.
The benefit of our place was that it backed up to the very beautiful Cuatepeque. After a breakfast of casamiento, eggs and fruit, we grabbed the communal canoe and spent a few hours paddling around the edges and failing entirely to reach the other side. What? Did you even look at the picture? That thing is freakin' huge.
Casamiento is an insanely delicious blend of beans and rice. Even without the weird Dorito garnish.
For Easter Sunday proper, we took the bus back up the hill to have dinner at a comedor with a world class view (see above pictures if it do ya' fine) and none too shabby fish. After sundown we lounged in hammocks and soaked in the traditional Easter karaoke caterwauling of random spanish language cover-songs. Ah small town El Salvador.
The lake was certainly beautiful, but our stop here did bring into sharp perspective the precipitous class divide of this country. Most of the shorefront is walled off from view, protecting sprawling villas and glittering mansions. The little bits left for public access came with such amenities as roadside trash heaps, and open sewage lines. The people we met were uniformly upbeat and very friendly, but the rest made for a less palatable juxtaposition. There is certainly room for improvement.
When our time for lake exploring was up, we made a spur of the moment decision to change our departure plans. Instead of heading for San Salvador, we thought we'd haul ourselves and our bag of tricks a little further east to a little town called Suchitoto. Luckily, we didn't have to leave at 5 in the morning to get there.