Santa Ana Volcano - Central America - CycleBlaze

December 27, 2022

Santa Ana Volcano

My wife is such a better traveler than I am.  She just has that intuition about how travel stuff works (train schedules, airports, etc.), or can figure it our easily.  And she packs so much more compact than me.  But today was a big milestone for me.  As I've mentioned before, I don't like organized tours because you feel like just another cow in the herd, your options for doing what you want when you want are limited, but mainly you really don't get a sense of the local culture.  So I researched and decided to take a public bus today from the bus station to the Santa Ana Volcano.  I really felt like a local, watching everyone else get on and off, seeing the sights out dirty and half-open windows, and getting squashed by people sitting next to me.  But I made it there and back which was a big milestone for my confidence, especially not speaking much Spanish.  You kind-of do what everyone else does and just go for it.  What's the worst that can happen?  I've already been electrocuted in the shower on this trip.

The Santa Ana Volcano is nearly 2,400 meters high, and, like many of the ~70 volcanoes in Central America, is very active.  It last erupted in 2005, killing two people as it sent lava and car-sized rocks up to 1.5km away.  There have been 200 eruptions in Central America in the last 300 years.

It took the bus about 2 hours to get there with all the stops.  Some of the stops had food vendors enter in the front and exit out the back as they were being enterprising with a variety of fresh fruits and such.  When we arrived - at an elevation of about 1600 meters, I actually felt cool for the very first time this trip, but not enough to put another layer on like most people did.  There was about 30 people on the public bus with me, but then we started with other tour groups and there was probably about 100 once we all started down the trail at around 10:00am.  More came behind them.  It spread out fast as people waited to take pictures along the way.  I talked to a couple from Italy, and another from South Korea, and then a few from other tour groups from Kansas and Denver - though the ones from Denver moved down to El Salvador to teach.  I didn't realize that in South Korea, after you work for the government for 10 years (every 10 years), you can get either take a year off, or just get an extra year's salary.  This couple was taking a year off, but they said most people just stay and work more.  It was nice to be able to have some conversations with others in English.  I can always count on foreigners to speak English, as ironic as that sounds.

I had read other blogs about how it was too cloudy to see down in at the top, but not today, it was just crazy windy though.  It took us about 2 1/2 hrs to get to the top, but then - encouraged by fellow bus riders on the way down, only about an hour to get down.  We wanted to make sure to catch the 1:30 bus, which we made by about 5 min.  We were running down!  Then, the bus shaved another 30 minutes off the return trip by going down hill and taking curves at breakneck speed.  It was funny watchin the poor old little abulitas holding on to dear life to avoid getting thrown out of their seats around the curves!

Once back then I had a craving for pupusas - El Salvador's signature dish, and I had not had any yet.  They are like small tortillas, but more doughy, filled with beans and cheese.  I had 6, along with some coleslaw and tomatoes.  So yummy when you're hungry (even when you're not)!  I ended up talking to the husband and wife in this establishment for a bit.

Inside the bus station. I had to buy a ticket this morning, even though I went by here the evening before to check it out. The ticket was 70 cents.
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Inside the bus, as we headed out in the morning
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Scenes from inside the bus. The next couple pics may be a bit blurry due to the speed of the bus and dirty window.
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One of several fruit vendors
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This lake was formed from a large calderra
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Roadside pupusa makers
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Bougainvillea, I believe.
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Getting all the groups ready with guides to head out
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Volcan Izalco
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There were tons of plants with these little berries. I have no idea what they are. Anyone?
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Bill ShaneyfeltBased on flower and leaf morphology, it appears to be in the heath family (Ericaceae). It does favor blueberries, but the rule with wild edibles is: "When in doubt, don't!"

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/pharmacology-toxicology-and-pharmaceutical-science/ericaceae
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1 month ago
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Volcan Izalco again behind me.
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So windy at the top!
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On the way back from the other side of the bus
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At last - pupusas!
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Its a family affair here. She's bringing me the 6th one hot off the griddle. So yummy!
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What a life, enjoying NCIS. I've seen that a lot here - the locals must like that show.
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The husband told me he had family in California. He lived there for a bit illegally in the late 80's then got deported back to El Salvador. Super friendly guy.
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