Captains Corner

Saturday, March 24, 2012

El Salvador!!

We are here!

 We did a lot in El Salvador so the blog is long.

We fueled up in Chiapas and began our 27 hour trip to El Salvador at  about 9 a.m. 

 Several of the sail boats left port before us and we, of course, caught up immediately, passed them all, and arrived in El Salvador, at the “bar”, around 2 p.m.   To cross the bar you must enter during high tide.  Our time was between 2 and 3 p.m.   We were right on time.  A jet ski (pilot) met us at the beginning of the bar and guided us through, shouting directions the entire time.  The “bar” is very, very dangerous.  If you do not cross it properly you can be capsized.  It is especially dangerous for sail boats.  Much more so than motor yachts.  The water swirls in all different directions and there is a lot of surge and waves, sometimes 12 to 15 feet high.  Our crossing, however, was uneventful.


We are now in a beautiful Estuary.  The ocean is on one side and the Estuary is about 9 miles long and a ½ mile wide.  On one side of the Estuary are some of the most beautiful homes and docks.  It reminds me of the Hamptons.  They belong to the very wealthy Salvadorians (of which there are very few).  On the other side are palapa huts, made out of palm fronds, with no electricity, no running water (they collect water during rainy season in cauldrons).  No cars (as it is an island).  They hollow out tree trunks and make canoes they call Cayukas.  The dichotomy from one side of the Estuary to the other is like the difference between night and day.  It is amazing.  The average Salvadorian makes $4.00 per day.  Their monetary system is U.S. dollars.  

Poor Side

Wealthy side

Poor side again.


We are currently situated in a Marina outside of what is considered a four star hotel.  They have accommodations on the ocean side and the Estuary side.  Two swimming pools (neither Jewell nor I ventured in….you wouldn’t have either).  We have parties almost every night during cocktail hour and there are several musicians in the Marina and music is in abundance.  I even got out my washboard a couple of times.  We had friends over for dinner several times and had a few parties on the boat.  It’s all such fun and such nice people.

We are the big boat!


I'm the one with the washboard!

The Tres amigos, from the sailboat Finisterre, they were so much fun.

The big excitement during the day is when a boat comes in over the bar.  People get in their skiffs to go and watch hoping there are no incidents (wink, wink).  One sail boat did go over on its side, but righted itself almost immediately.  Unfortunately all their hatches weren’t closed and it was a bit of a disaster.

Different boats crossing the bar.


The tide goes in and out 4 times a day.  You can only go in the water at high tide for a multitude of reasons.  I’ll let you use your imagination.  If you want more info, call me!!!   Also, if you skiff ride during low tide you will get caught on a sand bar.  Without fail.  The tide rises and falls at a rate of 7 to 9 feet every day.  When the tide comes in and goes out it moves very swiftly, probably at 4 or 5 knots.

We took a skiff ride about 7 miles down the Estuary to a small village called Herradurra.  Being the bright people we are, we figured we wouldn’t get caught on the sand so we went during low tide.  Guess what!!??  We got stuck.  I had three guys in the skiff and they got out in ankle deep water and lifted the skiff off the sand.  We proceeded without another incident.  Herradurra was full of stores and shops.  Meat hangs in the hot summer sun as does fish and chicken.  It didn’t smell too good.  It was an experience.

The entrance to Herradura.  You pick a kid to watch your skiff .

The mode of transportation, a tuk-tuk,

The central market with the hanging meat.

Have you ever seen how cashews grow?  It is amazing.  Take a look at the photo.  The fruit grows and on the end is the cashew nut.  You break the nut off from the fruit and then you are supposed to roast the nut to crack the outer casing.  However, there are toxic fumes that are emitted from the nut during this process.  How they do this commercially I can’t imagine.  Here they wear masks and do the “dastardly” de-shelling outside of their “homes”.  This is why cashews are so, so expensive.  The nut is one fifth the size of the fruit.  They tell us the fruit is edible and to freeze and then eat it.  We put the fruit in the freezer.   It is still there, considering the toxic nature of the nut we have not been brave enough to try it out.

Wild, right?

We have taken several trips into San Salvador to buy food and supplies.  It is about an hour and a half from the Marina and we hired a driver for $80 a day.  Jewell single handily is supporting the economy of El Salvador.  

Buying on the street is crazy and exciting.

This was the cheapest meat I have ever seen.  And it was good.

San Salvador's way of making the city look better.  Planted trash cans.

Jewell got into the street buying frenzy with Lucio.

Patrick and his friend Hunter came to visit and they ate and drank every bit of food available on the boat.  We shopped again after they left.  I’d forgotten how much two college boys can consume.  LOTS.   I took the boys wake boarding and they had a ball.  When it was time to leave, due to mass confusion, the boys left in true El Salvadorian style, in the back of a pick-up truck.  OY!

Hunter, Grandma and Patrick!  We had fun with them.

In front of marine customs.

They thought it was cool to ride in the back of the truck.  We were very nervous.  Oh well we figured it was El Salvador after all.
The most common food in El Salvador is Pupusas.  They are as prevalent as are tacos in Mexico.  It’s like a big fat stuffed tortilla filled with beans or cheese or meat or any combination thereof.  Jewell went to a cooking class to find out how to make them.  I’m still waiting! She decided to just make tortillas instead.

I am sure I can make these.

But I need more filling.

Jewell's home made tortillas.  They were pretty good.

Jewell's new $3.95 tortilla maker!!

We took our scooter out for a 25 mile ride down the only road that leads to and from the Marina.  It also is the road to San Salvador.  During our ride we needed to stop several times for pigs, cows, horses, goats and a variety of other animals as they walked freely in the road.  It was just unbelievable.  I never thought I would hear "watch out for the cattle" as we rode along.

Made us laugh every time we saw this.  And we saw it every time we went out.
An American called “Island Jan” built a home on the Estuary.  She teaches the natives how to speak English.  We went to her home for a chicken dinner and picked loads of mango off of her tree.  The mango are so sweet and there are literally thousands of trees surrounding us. There are also banana trees and other fruits.
A few years ago we met up with a couple, Collette and Murray, boaters also came in for the rally one year and decided to build a home here.  They invited Patrick and his friend to come and pick mango.  The color of my skin is now orange.  But boy are they good.  Jewell is freezing some for future use.

Hunter and Patrick in search of horticulture and mangos on the Island

 The Rally coordinators try and keep it interesting around here.  We went for a volcano tour, had a ketchup tasting and a catamaran tour around the Estuary.  One day we even went to one of the restaurants up on stilts.  You can only get there when the tide is high.  I can’t believe I went there.  They have no refrigeration but have fresh fish they just caught plus rice and beer.   I did not eat the fish.  But Jewell did.  And she lived to tell the tale.

Types of ketchup lined up for tasting.

What better tasting item than french fries.  Hunts won.

Stilt restaurant.


Some of our group inside of the restaurant on stilts.

Lucio celebrated his 29th birthday and his 5th year of working for us.  We took him to the only decent restaurant on the Estuary.  Oddly enough someone else was celebrating her birthday and offered to share her cake with him.  He had fun, as did we.  He’s a treasure.

Feliz Complianos Lucio.
Aggie met a new friend, Zoe, who belongs to our new friends Penny and John from the sailboat Contento.  In Penny Aggie found a substitute mother.  She doesn’t ever look back when Penny and Zoe come around to take her for a walk.  

Aggie going with Zoe, and her mom Penny, on her first play date.  They even had a sleep over.

Aggie on Zoe's boat.  They are best buds.
Aggie exhausted after a day with Zoe.
We met lots of people here we will be friends with for a long time.  Here are some of their photos.

Gary, Kenny and Tom

Jean and Bill who ran the rally and Penny in the middle.

Zoe's parents, John and Penny.

Scott and Joyce.
We leave tomorrow for Costa Rica.  A bunch of boats left today and we are all going to the same locations.  The trip will take us 27 to 30 hours and the sailboats 24 hours longer.  We can’t leave to cross the bar until high tide, around 2 p.m. UGH,  and hopefully will arrive at  Bahia Salinas in Costa Rica around 5 p.m.  That’s it for now.  Keep reading and we will keep writing.


  1. Love this girls!
    Keep'em comin'!!!

  2. Love hearing and seeing pics. What a life. Something to see and live and enjoy. Keep sailing.

  3. One of the 3 amigos wishes he was back there partying with you guys. So much fun. Thanks for all of your hospitality - continue to be safe. Gary

  4. El Salvador has one hell of a bar!
    I never knew it was treacherous. You gals did great 'in and out'. As for the time you enjoyed in El Salvador, sure sounds like you have hooked up with some great boaters which make the adventure more rewarding.
    Keep going---best of luck in Costa Rica.
    Rick and Michel
    P.S. As always, thanks so much for all the details and pictures---really fun reading.