Vacation Week: Enjoy the Ride

During a vacation in El Salvador, foreign visitors can appreciate the great beauty of the country, learn about the impact climate change has on Salvadoran ecosystems, support local entrepreneurs and the tourist economy, hear stories from Salvadoran people about the blessings and challenges they face, grow in understanding the story of migration from El Salvador to the United States and the connections between the two countries, and experience the love, friendship and hospitality of the Salvadoran people.

Today's episode in the Vacation Week series is being posted on the anniversary of the signing of the declaration of independence of United Provinces of Central America from Spain, which occurred on September 15, 1821. El Salvador recognizes September 15th as a national holiday. It is a day of pride for the people of El Salvador, when children and adults celebrate the beauty of the country, wave the blue and white flag, and share cultural traditions.

September 15 - Day of Independence - Let's proudly salute the homeland
Photo credit: Salvadoran Lutheran University

Our itinerary for this particular vacation week included exploring locations in the mountains of the central-west region of El Salvador followed by driving southeast along the Ruta de las Flores, passing through Sonsonate to Rte. 2, and then driving the coastal highway through the tunnels out to La Libertad. Today's episode focuses on getting from one place to another with a few stops along the way.

Ruta de las Flores map showing our route from Ataco, through Apaneca, Salcoatitan,
Nahuizalco and Sonsonate.  Photo credit: elsalvadoreshermoso.com 

La Ruta de las Flores, the Route of the Flowers, provides beautiful scenery, especially in November and December when the flowers are blooming (though I have seen some type of flower in bloom at any point during the year). There are several cities and towns to explore along the route. This vacation week series includes a few highlights:

Episode 1: Coffee Stop Above Lake Coatepeque
Episode 2: Experiencing the Energy at Tazumal
Episode 3: Concepción de Ataco
Episode 4: Fun in the Apaneca Mountains

One place we did not visit this time, but which is definitely worth a day or more is Juayua. The historic town center and church are beautiful, the town is a great jumping-off point for hiking to nearby waterfalls, and the weekend gastronomic fair offers all kinds of delicious food and drink. 

Photo of the central plaza and parish church in Juayua
(one of my older photos, taken in December 2005)

Our drive from Nahuizalco took us through a little bit of weekend traffic in Sonsonate, and then on toward the coast. 

Heading downhill toward the outskirts of Sonsonate, with the
towers of the Cathedral of Sonsonate peaking up over the trees

Just a typical day on a typical main road in Sonsonate

I love it when an artist creates a little spot of joy along
a narrow, congested route.

Looking up at the facade and towers of the cathedral

Heading south toward the coast, we took the coastal highway - a wiggly road
which takes you through mountains (literally) and forest and along the Pacific Ocean.
There are 5 tunnels - really marvels of engineering.

Our lunch destination was El Cadejo restaurant in La Libertad. It's definitely a favorite spot for hanging out, enjoying the ocean breeze, sharing good beer and good food with friends, and taking a dip in the pool or the tide pool (shown here).

Hold my beer.

Our vacation included weekend time in our sister church community, so that the couple vacationing with us could enjoy time in worship at the church and visit with families in the community.  We spent a couple of nights in San Salvador, and then we hit the road. This time we headed east to the department of La Unión where we had rented house on a quiet beach. Part of the fun of vacationing in El Salvador is the wide variety of eco-systems that one can experience within just a few hours of travel time.  Check out these photos which I managed to capture from my back-seat perspective.

Árbol de Fuego - the fire trees were in full bloom

Crossing the Río Lempa - "I am part of the solution to conflict"

On our way out to the beach, we stopped at Comedor La Finkita for lunch.
Located along the bypass around Usulutan where it intersects the old road to 
Santa Elena, this cafe with comida a la vista (a buffet) is a gem. We knew
it had to be good because with thunderstorms all around us, the place was packed, including
with police (who usually know the good places to eat). I asked if I could take a quick
pic of the kitchen - this chicken was really, really delicious.

The warm plain between the mountains and the sea,
sugar cane fields as far as you can see

There are stretches along the coastal lateral highway which
appear as a tunnel through the trees

One never knows when one will meet up with the Salvadoran Navy

Sometimes the colors of nature and the colors of human creation
just complement each other in a way that is particularly beautiful

The ravines which carry rushes of rainwater from the hills to the sea
are called "quebradas"

Bananas. That's it, just bananas. They are so beautiful.

I probably have a few photos of this home from over the years.
It seems so big, and check out those fine windows. These colors
are fabulous. Makes me curious about who lives here.

In the next episode: Beach Days!

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