Saturday, May 7, 2016

El Salvador

The Clock Is Ticking
I returned to Guatemala and resumed Spanish classes. It wouldn’t last long. I extended my vehicle permit for another 75 days but was informed that I must use that time to get all the way to the Costa Rican border and that I will not get more time when I cross into El Salvador, or Honduras, or Nicaragua. I didn't know that. That's a little upsetting. I canceled my classes, packed up and plotted a course for the southern border.
Great roads and even safer bridges

Speaking Spanish To A Spaniard
Before I left, I had an interesting conversation with a Spaniard over a couple beers. His topic thesis was that the Spanish were actually kinder than the English because they didn’t kill everyone. This was after I declared the Spanish to be the world’s greatest collection of rapists.
My theory was that they had essentially raped into existence every race in the new world. Not the best way to make friends, but sometimes I drink. “Look around” he commanded of me, – lots of brown faces. “Compare this to what the English did to the Indians in the USA; giving them small pox in blankets. The only Indians I saw in the USA were on reservation land in the worst part of Arizona. No, the English were worse than the Spanish” Maybe he had a point. I couldn’t argue that you rarely see an Indian face in the USA and here in Guatemala they are plentiful.
The delightful little people of El Salvador
It was something for me to chew on. We agreed that the English (he meant me, even though my blood could hardly be called English) were crueler and guilty of industrialized murder, but that the Spanish still held the rape crown. It was an uncomfortable stalemate on which we stood elbow to elbow at the bar. I blinked first and ordered the next round.

Elsie vs. Barraveigh
It's wonderful to have the freedom of movement, and the ability to change my surroundings by stepping on a pedal. My home goes with me. I don’t wonder if I’ll like the bed at the next hotel or if the pillows will be too flat or full. I never check behind the bathroom door to make sure I’m not forgetting anything. I transport my domicile from exotic locale to exotic locale.
Barraveigh from 10 years ago
El Salvador was a happy discovery. I had been there 10 years ago as a sailor on my own little boat. This was better. A boat is the wrong vehicle with which to explore a country. Let’s be honest, it’s not even good for exploring the coastline. This “Elsie” trip is so much easier and better in so many ways than my “Barraveigh” trip. I can now park on the beach and not worry about the weather. Before I was afraid a wind shift and a big swell would force me to “park on the beach” and at 22,000 pounds with a 6 foot draft, she’s not going to get back in the water again.
Volcano Cerro Verde
Nowadays, I lock my three door locks, press the “arm” button on my key fob and walk away from Elsie without any lingering doubts. A life on a boat is completely different. First, it’s work to even get off the mothership. Its work to make landfall in the dinghy and securing everything on the beach is further work. Not to mention getting back to the mothership in the dark once the wind and rain are in full force.
Exotic Edibles plucked from the jungle
And while you are ashore…Don’t venture too far, because you never know, when your home is floating that close to land with nothing more than an anchor and chain holding it in place you can’t really achieve peace of mind. It’s why sailors drink so much.

El Salvador
When I anchored in El Salvador 10 years ago, I had to cross the bar at Bahia del Sol. If you’ve done it, you were scared. This time around, I pulled up to a mountain town and parked on the side of a street. It was that easy, and the only excitement was how many pupusas I could eat at a single meal.
The Mayan Ruins of Joya De Ceren
El Salvador is Central America’s smallest country and yet had one of the worst civil wars. I’m sure today there are many individuals suffering from PTSD but I never felt uncomfortable in any of the many situations I found myself in over the month that I was there. I can vouch for El Salvador with zero hesitation.

Ridiculous "coffee tour". I fell for it, and her.

El Tunco
The last time I saw the Pacific was back in San Diego at Xmas.
I love the hammock Ed Dunbar!
Before that was long ago in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. It’s great to be back at the beach, and now it’s time for a costume change. I’ve grown fond of the altering altitude game. I pack away the hiking boots and socks, break out the flip flops, bury the jackets and get that rash guard handy. I spent a lot of time at the higher elevations and the temp was so nice, but even though I loved the lack of mozzies and not having to suck in my gut under 3 layers of clothing,
This rock came crashing down from the hillside

And just narrowly missed me
I completely lost my tan and my shoulders are far from surfing shape. El Tunco meant it was time to suck it in and suck it up, and to settle back into my midday mandatory siesta with air con.
I reinstalled my Surfline app and put it front and center on my phone. Sand and board management becomes paramount. Part of the beauty of this trip is in finding delicious ways to waste time. Decadently watching the surf crash from the shade of a palapa while the rum shrinks my ice cubes is one of my favorites. There is nothing wrong with El Tunco.
Not me

The Indelicacies Of Gravity
I watched her eyes counting the passage of time on my face. The sunspots denote years, the wrinkles decades. One blink – I dim.
Aging is a vanishing act on a grand timeline. Her young eyes are unconsciously driven by her womb and I’m no longer a viable candidate for procreation.
Two blinks – I’m barely opaque.  I now fail at inane small talk and, goddamn it, did I just yawn? That’s a dead giveaway. Three blinks - I just disappeared.

Yes, everything about the Barraveigh years were more difficult in comparison to this terrestrial road trip, but the one thing that was easier was meeting girls. A yacht with sails will always trump a camper with tires. I don’t even know how to do a better job of marketing myself. Here are 2 sentences, both of which were true but one capitalized on my marketing skills, “I own a boat in Indonesia.” vs “I own a yacht in Bali” I once tempted a little tart in Korea with the latter and it worked a charm.

When you are young, it’s just naturally harder to be creepy. As you age, creepy is just right there waiting for you to say something that 10 years before wouldn’t have even been noticed.

I suppose there have been 3 good things about aging: 1.) I’ve lost my allergies to dogs. 2.) Now that I’m older than most of the people I speak to I can use the informal tense when speaking Spanish. 3.) The chances that I’m going to be kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery are just about zero.

Me And My Decades
In my 20’s it was my jawline, my curly blonde hair, and my endless bravado. In my 30’s it was my material possessions – beach house with my sailboat anchored behind it in the bay (and god did I make the most of that). Now in my 40’s; I’m pedaling wisdom, and the promise of adventure. What a fraud. My crescent moon of a jaw is the same but the Ronald Reagan neck beneath it isn’t helping. The hair is thinning and the bravado has been replaced with a mute smugness. I’ve gained a measure of serenity through adventure, but actual wisdom? And, the adventures have cost me a few houses so far; so much for the material possessions. Maybe I am no more than a mere “content provider” to those who are tethered to their traditional existences. But don’t shoot me yet- enlightenment may still await us both . . .

Swirling down into the disappearing abyss of old age,
Captain Bobby

P.S. / I suppose this is my refusal to write another boring travelogue. (i.e. - “we woke up early and drove to the lake…”) You’re stuck with my personal ramblings, and before you start sending me chastising emails to ‘buck up capt whiney’, though I am feeling my age, I also admit that I don’t really have anything to complain about.


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