Simplicity in El Salvador
We have been taught many lessons thus far on the trip but the most important one is to simply slow down and enjoy life. It is far too easy to fall into the mundane everyday tasks and not take the time to truly appreciate what is around you.
Living the simple life is really working well for us. We are finding that we are taking the time to enjoy each moment of every day and are truly enjoying the simple things in life. We are learning more and more about ourselves and each other, while exploring newfound things around us. We are learning new ways to live by observing those around us. Things are done so differently down here. Their lifestyle is simple. Carefree.
After being inland for about two months, it was time to hit the coast. Having both grown up on the ocean, we needed to get back to our roots. We pointed the truck south towards El Salvador and took off, listening to our favorite tunes. The border crossing was pretty straight forward. Check yourself, your vehicle and your dog out of Guatemala and then into El Salvador. It would have only taken us about two hours but because the computers were “offline” (aka time for lunch), so it took us about four. No biggie, we have all the time in the world! We are learning to appreciate the slow pace people work at down here. Nothing ever happens in the time frame you think it will. It is a nice change from back home where everything feels so rushed. There is a much more relaxed vibe about, well, everything down here.
Realizing we were shorter on time than desired, we decided to venture to Parque Nacional El Imposible, as it was only about an hour or two from the border. After stocking up on groceries, we turned onto the dusty, potholed road that lead to the park. Driving up the steep road, we passed by students who had just gotten out of school. They were all on their way home, climbing the same hill as us. It became clear that it is not a popular road for tourists to drive up. The kids were mesmerized by the big, loud truck coming up the hill. Once at the top, after gaining about 2500 feet in elevation, we were greeted by a man who showed us where we could park to camp. It was absolutely beautiful up there. We immediately parked the trucks and ran up to the lookout tower to watch the sunset at our new home for the night.
The next day we packed our bags and went for a hike to Piedra Sellada, a swimming hole deep in the forest. Having been sick the past month, this was a more difficult task than it had intended to be. It was a three mile trek straight down a mountain to a swimming hole where we saw petroglyphs and lots of wildlife. While walking, we noticed a long, narrow trail about an inch wide all along the path. Upon further investigation, we saw that there were millions of leaf cutter ants walking in single file carrying small pieces of leaves. It was amazing the path they had made from all of their hard work. It went on for miles! Once taking a dip in the water, we turned around and went straight back up and out of the mountain range. The views along the way and crystal clear swimming hole was totally worth it. Upon our return, we kicked our shoes off and took a nap. Itching to get to the coast, we packed up the next morning and headed towards El Zonte.
Pulling into the town, we decided to park the truck and walk around to see our options for camping. We were told that we could camp at “Don Raul’s” but didn’t know exactly what that meant. We rounded the corner, and stumbled upon a small El Salvadorian man swinging in his hammock wearing white shorts, no shirt and a grin the size of the Cheshire Cat. After finding out that he was the infamous Don Raul, we were given a tour. It was very simple, consisting of a small parking area with shade, a common area with tables, a bathroom and shower room with a bucket of water to rinse yourself of with.
I taught myself to hand wash our laundry because there was no lavanderia in the town. It is much easier than I thought and I have been doing it ever since! Don Raul had everything we could possibly need and he was so happy to have us as guests. We spent a total of eight days there lounging in our hammocks, going for daily runs, getting some surfing in and cooking the best dinners with fresh fish from the next town over. A few of the nights we piled up some food on a plate and delivered it to Don Raul who would be sitting in his hammock in his room watching tv. Once gaining the ability to tear ourselves away from our favorite ‘home’ thus far on the trip, we headed to Las Flores in search of some more surf.
Las Flores had exactly what we were looking for. Great surf, camping right on the beach under a palapa and fresh fish right off the boats. We were awoken each morning by the sound of waves crashing right outside of our windows and the turkeys gobbling, begging for more food. Then, each night, we were lulled to sleep by the sound of the tide going out and the picturesque view of the moon over the ocean.
We knew we were onto something when we sold just about everything we own and set off on this adventure. You don’t need ‘things’ in life to make you happy. Sometimes the things you think will make your life easier, may actually complicate it even more. It is too easy to look past the beauty in every day things and take things for granted. Each day we have to ‘set up’ our lives instead of having everything ready to go. Instead of turning the coffee maker on, we set up our stove to percolate coffee each morning. Although we sleep in the same bed every night, we sleep in all different places including beaches, people’s houses, restaurants, campgrounds, parks, etc. It’s almost like Christmas each day we wake up. Pulling back the curtain and having something new to look at each morning is the greatest feeling. Instead of going grocery shopping in one large supermarket, we shop at several stands for the freshest produce, different tiendas for odds and ends and fishermen on the beach for our fresh fish. We started washing our clothes by hand in the bucket our kitchen stuff is organized in rather than bringing it to a laundromat. It is all very simple, yet nothing we have ever needed to think about before. The Latin American culture has taught us many things so far and we are taking it all in, one lesson at a time.