(March 7 – written by Dave)
We survived the night in the no-tell hotel. We ran the A/C all night which affectively drowned out any noise coming from other guests – if there even were any. I only touched things that I should have been touching. Everything worked out great.
Even though we had to haul everything down the stairs, we still managed to ride away from the hotel at 6:10. It was warm enough for summer riding clothes, but cool enough that we weren’t hot – just right. Just as we were pulling away from town, the sun burst over the horizon. I stopped for a photo but was also reminded by my senior editor that we had a long day and stops would need to be limited today – roger that.
We had a nice gentle downhill run all the way to the Rio Lampa river crossing. Here I was allowed a pass on the photo limit to snag the shot below. There was an amazing sand recovery business operation was taking place on the river. Basically two man teams took boats to the sand bars where one guy dug sand (from under water), while the other guy bailed out the boat to keep it floating. Once full, they’d tug, row, and drag the boat to the shore where they unloaded the sand with shovels onto a platform. On the platform, another couple guys loaded the sand, again by shovel, into the back of trucks. I’m sure that it was all properly permitted and that the workers all had appropriate workers comp insurance. Back breaking work for sure whatever the legality of it.
As we got closer to the river, we started seeing a new large volcano to our left – San Miguel volcano. It was steaming pretty much all day but nothing like the volcano a few days ago. San Miguel’s last major eruption was in January 2016 so what saw today isn’t counted by the geologists. We had the volcano on our left the rest of the day and now here in the town of San Miguel, it’s sort of hovering over us.
I managed to limit my photos enough for us to set several records today. By 9AM morning tea in Usulutan we’d ridden 50k, and by lunch at 11:30 at a servo where we turned north towards San Miguel, we ridden 90k. I snuck in a few photo breaks but generally I was on my best behaviour. When we were riding east, Nancy was on the front in a headwind – I didn’t dare stop for she’d make me take the lead so she could keep a closer eye on me.
The last 20k was uphill but heading north meant we had a tailwind now. And we knew that we could make the distance so my photo stop restrictions were backed off a little. Our first stop was at a roadside seller of iguanas. We’d heard about these guys from other riders and we thought the animals were already dead. We learned otherwise when Nancy leaned in and one of them moved – poor things. The guys selling them said that they would be used for food by whoever made the purchase (and he said they were bueno (good)) – we passed.
The next photo op came as we started rolling past a bunch of nice pink flowering trees. They made for some nice pictures with the volcano in the background. When we got to town, we learned that the trees were Maquilishuat, the national tree of El Salvador. The trees are naturally famous for their flowers, both on the tree and on the ground. The wood is said be very thin and as such prized for joinery work – it is light weight and is amber yellow with purplish veins.
After last night’s hotel, Nancy wanted something nice. She was pulling for the Quality Inn at on the highway. I had another place in mind, the Hotel King Palace, right near the bus station. We’d heard the King described as an “oasis of calm” by other cyclists so we rode there first. The approach is about what you’d expect near an El Salvadorian bus station – chaos. It was my turn to explore the rooms and I was happy to report that stepping in the lobby door was just as we’d read.
I looked at the rooms and picked one out – it was good. Then after I paid, the woman said that we had to take the room on the third floor, not the first that she showed me. Bummer. We started hauling the gear up the stairs and she had a change of heart and showed us a different room on the ground floor – it was actually better than the one up on three – so we grabbed it.
It wasn’t long before I was in the pool for a swim. It was just too inviting not to hop in, in my bike shorts no less. Nancy got her feet in, but didn’t want to put on her swim suit. We found an English movie channel and a grocery store in the building next door. And an ATM for cash. So, the hotel worked out good – score one for the bicycle blogs.
For dinner we had broiled chicken, salad and one of our last packages of Idaho instant mashed potatoes. And naturally we ate it sitting by the pool. It was great, until the heat got to us and we had to retire to our A/C equipped room.
We have a really short day tomorrow – it’s just worked out that way. We are planning on stopping at a town in El Salvador that is close to the Honduras border. We will have two days and one night in Honduras, so tomorrow is setting all of that up. Nancy says that we can take advantage of the day and find a laundromat – my clothes are starting to get too dirty for her to ride with me. Ok, I’ll ride in Nancy’s draft more tomorrow.