Story by “Oma” (Maya and Kai’s grandmother and Ruth’s mother)
After gorging myself on a delicious Passover dinner chez Joshua, on April 10th, I took the red-eye directly to El Salvador. It took me seven hours compared to the seven months for Kamaya.
Maya ran up to me at the airport, gave me a big hug and I had to take a second look. She had grown at least one foot. We hired a very friendly and very big taxi to take us and my huge bags heavy with spare pumps, spare parts and books from the airport to Bahia del Sol. It took us about 45 minutes with a stop to provision and then we reached the boat which was anchored in the estuary of Jaltepeque.
It was Semana Santa and the weekend at the hotel was full of non-religious swimming celebrants. Maya and Kai quickly made friends and I loved watching them speak Spanish with their friends. We spent the next few days enjoying the good life with ice creams and marathon swims in the swimming pool at Bahia del Sol.
The plan was to leave on Monday, but the waves at the mouth of Jaltepeque were too “peligrosas” giving us time to visit the nearby islands, and sample papusas, the local food.
Talking about food, we went to the funniest restaurant- “stilts or sticks” restaurant which are like treehouses, built on thin tree trunks holding up a floor that has more “sticks” holding up a roof made of dried banana leaves -- no inspection permit needed. We could see the water flowing underneath the boards. Our restaurant was built in December by three men in three days.
The chef comes out with a plate of uncooked fish and huge shrimps, takes our order and cooks it over an open fire.
In the meantime, we lounge in the hammocks and drink cervasas (yes, I could get used to this life!) while Maya and Kai build sand castles in the beach below. The beach changes quickly with the tide. A little like a magic trick -- now you see it, now you don't.
On Monday, we went to Jani’s home and helped teach English to the neighborhood kids who come to her home twice a week. Some come to learn English and some come just to hang out. Maya worked with one 13 year old Maria who wanted to learn both English and Chinese - but when Maya started teaching her Chinese, Maria quickly changed her mind. "It's so much harder than I had imagined," Maria said. The kids were so polite, well dressed and very appreciative of Jani’s school.
Jani lives on Isla El Cordoncillo which is in the middle of the estuary. She arrived nine years ago in her 70 foot sailboat and decided to buy three acres and call it home. Jan showed us her mangos, bananas, cashews, pineapple and tamarindo trees and we ate our way around her property. Cashew fruits are interesting - they grow on trees and each nut is encased in a hard shell at the end of a large pear-shaped waxy red fruit. I never dreamed that each nut has to be twisted to separate it from the large fruit,then dried and pealed...big journey for such a tasty nut.
Kai picked up the skeletons of cicadas which conveniently retain their little claws. I think they're similarly to the ones that come every 17 years to the East Coast but these bugs come every year. Kai and his new friend Alex, collected the skeletons and had fun sticking them onto my shirt. They might look a little more elegant gold plated.
I also enjoyed meeting Collette Barrett, who similar to Jan, sailed into the estuary many years ago with the plan of only staying a few weeks, but as life has it, she, too, has been here for years. Collette lives down the road from Jan and has a boatyard, a travel lift and takes care of yachts moored here for extended periods of time. She and her husband Murray lured many sailors into the area.
Ruth and I took the dinghy on a half hour trip up the estuary to a small town called Herradora. Then the following day, Tim and I took the 193 bus to Zocatecaluca where we found a huge grocery store and bought more food for our journey south.
Thursday night, we met the famous Roberto de Llano and his wife, Mar. Roberto is an impersonator and had performed the night before. He has a website, www.robertodellano.com and can be 10 different personalities, including Elvis. It was exciting to meet them and learn about his life and we got to show them life on board a sailboat.
On Friday morning, the waves were finally small enough to allow us to leave and sail over the sandbar to the Gulf of Fonseca. Rohelio, our local guide in his panga, safely led us through the crashing waves. Ruth held her breath, we all wore life jackets, I took pictures and Tim calmly steered us into the ocean.
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