Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving from El Cuco

Greetings All,
After leaving San Salvador we headed east to climb our next volcano, Chinchontepec. This volcano has two peaks so according to our guide it's name translates to "tits". The view from the summit was somewhat obscured by trees. When we return to the tiny town of Guadalupe we had a nice view of the volcano from the town square.

The next day we took a break from hiking to tour the colonial town of Suchitoto on the shores of Lake Suchtitlan. The plan was to go kayaking on the lake but we had to take a motor boat instead. We were told it was too dangerous to kayak with all the water hyacinth in the lake. We didn't understand until we got off the boat to visit a little island. When we returned to the boat it was completely surrounded by the hyacinth. If we had been in kayaks we would have bee stranded.

You could cross the lake on a little ferry that could hold up to 3 vehicles.

Suchitoto is a picturesque colonial town complete with the main square containing a church and fountain.

Another day, another volcano. Today's objective was to climb the extinct volcano Guzapa. This volcano was one of the main guerrilla bases during the civil war that lasted from 1982 to 1990. Not much remains except for the site of the makeshift hospital and some caves where the guerrillas used to hide.

The only inhabitants today are bats. The next day was to be an easy climb up Vocan Tecapa. We had 6 local guides but no one seemed to know the best way to the top. The lead guide had to hack his way through the bush with a machete. There was a view of Lago Alegria below and Vocan Tigre beyond.

We headed straight down to the lake but had to turn back as the trail was too steep as in it dropped off.  Coffee is grown on the fertile lower slopes of the volcanoes. The fruit is beginning to ripen but is not quite ready for harvest.

The fruit is hand picked by laborers who get paid $5 per 100 pounds of beans. The fruit is washed, dried and the husks are removed. The beans are washed and dried again and are now ready for roasting.
Yesterday for our toughest hike yet. We climbed to the top of Vocan Chaparrestique. The view from the crater rim was dramatic. We looked down into a barren landscape with steaming fumaroles and gaping red fissures.

To make this climb we had to be escorted by two armed policemen. We were not sure what they were protecting us from. One could not make the climb and stopped about half way up. The other let us hold his Uzi on the top.

He did remove something from the gun, a magazine or bullet, to make it safe for us to hold.
We got up at 5:30 to watch a spectacular sunrise over the Pacific Ocean.

We are staying in the tiny seaside resort to El Cuco for the next 2 days. Today we are to be given a surfing lesson. We'll see how it goes.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families.
Peggy and Marc  

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