San Ignacio – Santa Ana

After breakfast in one of the grimiest comadors I have ever eaten in, I had a wander around town. When I got to the church overlooking the town plaza, I noticed amongst the large throng, people dressed as characters from the nativity. There followed a parade through town to another smaller church several blocks away where they collected the ‘baby Jesus’ and brought him back to the main church. Midway through, the ‘three wise men’ were given mounts and led on horseback. A small group of youths followed the procession, firing off rockets at regular intervals. It was a noisy, lively affair greatly enjoyed by the local parishioners. 

I had got directions as to a bus which went down a remote mountain road from close to the Honduran border to the town of Metapan. I caught a bus to the border town of El Poy then made further enquiries of the bus I wanted. It turned out there was only one bus a day and I had ten minutes to catch it in the next village! I jumped in a tuk tuk and we sped off towards Citala where my bus was warming up ready to go. I made my way past a señora delivering the Sunday sermon to the travelling mob to take a seat next to a wizened señor. 

For me, travelling is more about the journey than the destination. Seeing the countryside, experiencing everyday local life and generally soaking up what a country has to offer. Thus, opportunity to slowly meander through remote Salvadorian mountain country well off the beaten track in an old, clapped out, ex-US school bus crammed full of locals jumping on and off, was not to be missed! The dirt road was in fairly good condition and looked as if it had been recently graded. However, it was narrow and severely winding which meant the bus was forced to traverse at snail’s pace. 

As we slowly wound out way around the sides of the mountains, we passed tiny communities consisting of little more than a handful of tiny mud brick shacks. Subsistent farming was being eked out of this remote pocket by carving small fields into the hilly and heavily forested terrain. The vistas we were provided on this traverse were stunning at every angle. 
Three hours after leaving Citala, we finally arrived in the large town of Metapan. By this stage, I needed a rest stop before hopping on another bus to Santa Ana where I decided I would spend the night. A nearby little restaurant filled this need most effectively! A final bus took me from Metapan into Santa Ana where we drove into a sumptuous sunset. Unfortunately, I started getting a sore throat which I prayed wouldn’t develop into the dreaded bronchitis I am plagued with at times. 

I asked the driver to drop me as close to the town centre as possible as I had chosen a hostel out of the guide book not far from there. By now, I wasn’t feeling at all well and just wanted to dump my pack and crash on a bed. Preferably a clean one. The plaza at which I alighted was about a kilometre away from the town centre. I was busting for a pee, but the only place I could see en route was a dodgy dive of a bar populated by rough señors and a handful of even rougher señoras. Still, I was desperate so dumped my pack behind the bar and ordered a cerveza. 

One block further on, I passed two hygienically superior large family restaurants which in hindsight would have been far better options, but mission had already been completed so I continued on. Once at the plaza, I got my bearings and walked the further nine blocks to where I intended staying. At the crossroads just past where the hostel should have been, I turned around and checked again. Nothing. As I was contemplating trying to find somewhere else, I heard a shout from above ‘Casa Verde?!?’ The hostel had been marked on the wrong side of the map, was extremely poorly signed and I was trying to find it in the dimly lit night. No wonder I failed! 

Carlos, the energetic owner, let me in and I entered a wonderland of hostel at least equal to some of the best I have ever stayed in. I organised a dorm bed and crashed not long thereafter.  

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