El Salvador is an adjustment.
The food is different.
The Spanish is different.
The poverty is different.
In the small pueblos, water that runs from the piping many times contains bacteria and disease. Cholera outbreaks have occurred in past years. But, the tap water costs only 25 cents every 5 gallons. To buy 5 gallons of purified water, the cost is $2.50 – a substantial difference to a person who works for the piddly pay here in El Salvador. Many people drink the tap water even though it’s risky.
And yet in the capital city of San Salvador, Gallerias and super malls are filled with young business people and expensive housewives eager to inhale the latest perfumes and walk on the highest heels. McDonald’s, Quiznos, Papa John’s… all American names we know and love – and hate. Nine West, Northface, Steve Madden… yes, I do remember when those labels used to be important to me. I will admit I inhaled sharply and felt a pang of regret when I walked past the Clinique and Lancome counters, but it passed.
9 of us cruisers rented a van for $90 – yes, $10 per person round trip and the driver stays with you all day! That morning before we set off, Jim’s Teva sandals finally blew out. And I do mean! He looked behind him in time to see his hole riddled sole lying sadly on the ground. We bit the budget bullet (yet again!) and bought a pair of Northface non-leather hiking sandals on sale for $53.
|Jim using hand palm and needle to repair his Tevas - again!|
Vidris is the hardware store and it was amazing! Many products have the Ace Hardware labels. Everyone was in awe. Jim and I got most of what was on our list from Vidris.
There is a small marine store called Marinsa, but it didn’t have much and it was very expensive.
One cruiser needed the Mac computer repair shop. Jim needed cables for the Pactor modem.
The fabric shops here are worth a stop. Sunbrella can be purchased at $9 a yard. We discovered fabric for our cockpit cushions at $5.15 a yard. Beautiful interior fabrics are on $4 a yard, so we are speculating the cost of having all our cushions re-upholstered. The biggest hurdle is figuring out how to get the cushions from Bahia del Sol to San Salvador without the transportation costing us a fortune. I’m still working on it.
Speaking even a wee bit of Spanish will really help you get along. I translated for the rest of our group and was ecstatic to speak to an El Salvadorian whom I understood! Martin, our driver, spoke very little English and told me he found learning English to be very difficult. And there are, indeed, translation problems.
"Por ejemplo," Martin said. "Como se dice flor?
"That's flower in English," I replied.
"Entonces, que es arena?" Martin queried.
"That is sand."
Martin looked at me with a puzzled expression.
"Sand?" he asked.
"Yes, sand - like on the beach," I said helpfully.
"No, no arena. La palabra es harina," he repeated.
"Oh - harina means flour."