I had a bad night with my bronchitis and slept in past the time I had agreed to for breakfast. Nevertheless, the lukewarm repast was still tasty as I sat in my PJs red eyed, snotty nosed, mucous hacking and sneezing. I’m sure the owners thought they would have to burn the place to the ground after I left!
A shower sorted me out and I readied myself for a day of exploration. As it was only a few kilometres into the city centre from where I was staying, I thought it was probably easier to walk than try catch a local bus in these congested traffic conditions. That was the easy part and I found myself on the outskirts of the city centre after about an hour. By then, I was started to fade so thought I would find the ubiquitous central plaza in EVERY Central American town/city/siding to sit and partake of a fresh juice. Onwards I strolled. Down traffic choked streets. Through pedestrian choked markets. Until, finally coming to what I thought would be a pleasant, leafy, relaxed plaza in which to while away a much needed break. Not so fast, said the Travel God of Disappointing Outcomes. Said plaza was a hot, barren, concreted carpark.
I made my way back through the pedestrian choked market to find anywhere I could sit for a bit and have a cold drink. I eventually was directed to a ‘hole in the wall’ operation out of a hairdressing salon. I asked if I could sit inside and the two senoritas attending were most obliging. Whilst one made me the best orange and pineapple juice I have ever tasted, the other sat opposite and proceeded to chat. It seems they don’t get many Aussies their way and they were very keen to learn about Australia and my journey around their country in particular. One thing I have learned about this country is that the locals don’t seem to travel much. Even though El Salvador is tiny, I was assured wherever I went, that I had seen much more of the country than the person I was chatting to.
I informed my two new friends that I wanted to go to the Artisan Markets to purchase some gifts for my family, however, they were quite adamant that the place was not safe and that I should not venture there. As the headlines in the newspaper the previous day had featured the bloodied body of San Salvador’s latest (reported) homicide as being found there, I thought they might actually not be overreacting. They directed me to a new (allegedly safer) Artisan Market further out of town and one of the senoritas accompanied me to the bus I would need to catch to get out there.
I was well and truly glad when I finally arrived at my destination as the pollution was really starting to make an impact on my already compromised respiratory system. Again the Travel God of Disappointing Outcomes raised his ugly head and provided me with a small, overpriced, cheesy tourist centre. Finding little of any interest, I decided to make my way back to whence I came. By this stage, I was really starting to struggle and desperately needed to find somewhere with clean air. San Salvador’s answer to my quest? Pizza Hut! No beer, but I could at last breathe and for that I was grateful. I grabbed something to eat in order to prolong being able to gulp down unpolluted Co2.
By this stage, I made a truce with myself that I wouldn’t push myself any further and would head back to the hostel. Even though I really wanted to see some of the historic buildings in the city centre as well as check out the dodgy Artisan Market as far as my spider sensors would take me, I knew I was fighting an uphill battle. I had now been sick for nearly a week with very little down time for what is quite a debilitating illness.
I decided to walk back as I couldn’t bear to be in a hot, exhaust ridden taxi, let alone bus! Cashing up on the way back, I put myself in ‘auto pilot’ and trotted back to the hostel. One thing about San Salvador, the main streets are very clearly marked and it was relatively easy to negotiate my way with the help of a map. Nonetheless, I was most grateful to finally rock back up to the hostel and have a much needed lie down. An early night was needed anyways as I had a early start the next day. After organising a taxi to pick me up just after 5 am, I packed everything ready for the flight and was more than happy to call it a night.