Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bahia del Sol Marina

Ready at the dock was a whole helpful entourage of not only other sailors, but friendly marina/hotel staff and Customs & Immigration persons, all to facilitate an easy check-in and clearance. At the Marina office, we signed up for our discounts as part of the El Salvador Rally Group, meaning we would get 50% off of dock rates, plus beer for $1, 30% off meals, and 10% off drinks at the Marina. We were also told that whether we stayed at the docks or anchored out, we would have full access to all the facilities (showers, 2 swimming pools, internet, etc.) and discounts above. What a deal! (El Salvador currency is the US dollar.)

Next, it was off to the pool for a cool dip with cruising friends, Lue and Claes. Apparently cruisers seem to be the only ones that use this fabulous, perfect temperature pool all week long, but then on the weekend, a few hotel visitors also enjoy it. So every day, cruisers get together around 16:00 for a "cruisers' net" in and around the pool, with the net being conversation and sharing of tips and adventures. This is so much better than the traditional cruisers' net where cruisers listen to a controlled VHF radio net each weekday morning on their boat.

Pool coolin'

Monday was spent lazing around but Tuesday morning we went to Zacatecoluca - Zacate for short (N13°30' W88°52') with Cheryl of SV Stolen Kiss. This town is not too far away, depending on your chosen mode of transportation. We had been offered a car ride so the trip took about 45 minutes. Our reason for going was to stock up on fresh produce at the street market and perhaps also at the supermarket store. The market was massive, stretching on forever and up and down narrow covered alleyways. It was the largest we have seen to date. But apparently it is not always this big. Cheryl suggested that perhaps it was market day.

Market on one of the main streets

Almost every woman vendor wore an apron. The fancier the apron, the more elite the woman is considered to be. I even saw one man wearing a fancy blue apron and several of the women customers were also wearing them. Aprons were everywhere! And some were indeed much fancier than others with bright colours, plenty of lace, and heaps of pockets.

We bought bags and bags of produce, I got a new pair of shorts for $1, and Jordan even found a small nozzle piece to fix our broken solar shower spout with. After a cold ice cream and a quick stop at the supermarket, it was time to find the right bus to return to the Marina. Cheryl knew it was No. 193 and we boarded it at the bustling bus station.

We soon discovered that we were not on the direct route bus but on one of the "chicken buses", a bus that makes several stops. It took 2 hours! (You are supposed to catch the direct route bus on the street, not at the bus station.) But it was quite the adventure. With the music booming, they pack you in like sardines and then at town stops the vendors squeeze on selling their wares. The ice cold water/juices/sodas were very popular as it was extremely hot on the bus.

4 vendors selling their wares as 1 interested passenger looks on

It has become very evident that you can get almost anything in El Salvador with even larger and more stocked stores than Mexico. When we got back to the Marina, we unloaded all our groceries, put on our bathing suits, and dashed to the pool. How so very refreshing after a hot, hot morning at the market and a crowded 2-hour bus ride.

The Marina/Hotel then put on a BBQ for the sailors where they provided rice, delicious vegetable medley, and teeny tiny baked potatoes. All they requested was that you bring your own choice of meat which the chef would then prepare and BBQ for you. All for $3! Everything was done to perfection and we retired with full stomachs and weary bones after a busy day and relaxing evening.

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