I would say that this country still is not geared towards budget tourism, but if you learn a bit of the local lingo, and take the time to meet people and ask questions, you can still do things on the cheap.....and be rewarded with some unforgettable experiences! The locals are so ready to help!
Suchitoto is yet another quaint cobblestone town, that looks like it has not yet awaken from a long slumber. Nothing touristy about it at all, and I counted the tourists I saw on half a hand. Cafe Arte in the central plaza, provided fantastic coffee, made by the very affable Luis, who also happened to speak great English. It is at this cafe that we met Naun, Roberto and Leandro. Naun is a local tour guide, and Leandro and Roberto were out from San Salvador, the capital, on a work assignment. Between them Leandro and Roberto are film makers, screen writers, producers, directors, TV presenters and actors. They were in Suchitoto to film some things on the surrounding areas. To cut a long stort short, whilst having a coffee in Cafe Arte, we were asking Luis about what we could do, when Naun, on the next table, not only overherad us, but asked us if we would like to join him and the boys over the next few days. Of course we said yes!
What ensued were two funfilled and adventure packed days. We even acted as extras in some of their filming, as well as Leandro interviewing us about our own travels and experiences. We went to a waterfall called Los Tercios, and although at this time of year there really isn´t much water, the rock formations were spectacular. It looked like a whole stack of roman columns had been piled up, one on top of each other. From close by there was also a superb view of Lago Suchitlan, which is actually a dam. Having said that, with no concrete edges and the country´s undulating landscape being a real help, it looks totally natural. I think I must have said "It´s amazing!" one too many times, as I soon noticed that either Leandro or Roberto....or both...would say it every time we saw something impressive!
We also visited an island called "Island of the Birds", out on Lake Suchitlan. Explanation as to why it was named thus is unnecessary. The amount of birds on and around the island was mind boggling. The sun was going down around the time we were there, and as no other boats or tourists were around, the atmospere was pure magic. I felt like I was in paradise on earth! The way the rays penetrated the clouds and landed on the water added to this mystical effect. The only thing that kept running over and over in my mind was how fortunate I was to be able to do this!
Another splendiferous view of Lago Suchitlan was from the house/museum of Alejandro Cotto. Alejandro, although much older now, was a well known actor and Salvadoran celebrity, and whilst his property has some amazing pictures, paintings and artifacts, the piece de resistance is definitely the view of the lake. At this point I had both Leandro and Roberto mocking me in high pitched voices, "It´s amazing! It´s amazing!"
We stayed in a great place called "El Patio" which had an adjoining leftest bar called "El Necio". Together these places constitute "La Casona" (www.lacasonasuchitoto.com). We soon met Jerry, one of its leftist managers. What a great guy! Whilst making no qualms at all about being left wing, he was very gentle and charming and and not pushy about his views at all. Yet his views are his views! There is no doubt about that at all, especially inside the bar, which is full of communist and socialist posters and information. Yet, both the hotel and the bar are comfortable and relaxing havens, where you can simply hang and chill out. Jerry was a fascinating person to chat to, an intelligent man with a very warm heart. A person who, unlike many, lives by example , not merely by words. We walked around his property and he explained some of the things he had done and was trying to do. He had placed more efficient and less energy consuming light bulbs, and was working on a way on how to install solar panels for hot water. I also found out that his staff are amongst the best paid in town. A human trying to make a difference, and I commend you for that Jerry!
Roberto Broz is another affable American/ Salvadorean that we met here. He has a great website on things to do in and around Suchitoto. Please take the time to check it out, www.gaesuchitoto.com
We had hoped to go towards the Guatemalan border from here, to a place called Juayua, but Roberto and Leandro told us that we had to go through the capital. We had really hoped that that would not be necessary. Having said that, Roberto invited us to stay in a house with some friends of his in San Salvador, and before we knew it, we had said yes, and were heading off to the capital.
"Those who wander are not necessarily lost" J.R.R. Tolkien
Photos: 1.- Suchitoto Plaza 2.- Leandro & Roberto in a "dirty" situation (filming a bird pooing in Leandro´s eye - that was me with the mayonnaise up above). 3.- Los Tercios Waterfalls. 4.- Sunset at La Isla de los Pajaros.
5.- Sunset on Lake Suchitoto, as seen from Island of the Birds.. 6.- Jerry & Ombi @ "El Necio" Bar, Suchitoto.
Do you want to see more photos? Very Itchy Photos