Me, Santos and Josh at one of the many palapa stops..CB too (he’s taking the photo)
The best part about traveling is meeting local people. However, this is often difficult due to language barriers. When we arrived in El Salvador, Santos (owner of Santo’s Marina, who speaks very good English) came out to our boat while anchored in the estuary to see if we needed anything…at the time, we did not. When our friend Josh (s/v La Gitana) arrived Santos offered him the same assistance. Josh ended up taking his dinghy up into the jungle (jungla) with Santos to see parts often untraveled by cruisers. Santos is starting up a Jungla tour where he takes tourists up into the estuaries of the Rio Lempa on his sailboat. Josh got to see the route. At one of the stops there was a tree that hung over the river and Santos told Josh that was where people climbed up and jumped from the tree. This looked like a perfect place for a rope swing. So a few days later we took two dinghys up into the jungle to construct the rope swing.
The rope swing injection team…boat #1: Sachi (on the bow), Santos and Josh (el capitan)…we are in boat #2
It is currently Semana Santa, the week before Easter when the Latin Americans head to the beach for the week. This means rural little beach towns like Bahia Sur are swamped with city folks, jet skis and boats. Lots of celebrations are going on and the jungle estuaries and its little palapa restaurants are packed. We first stopped at a floating palapa at the head of the river…this was pretty cool.
This bar was just built…and packed to the gills
We didn’t stay long…just long enough to get some coldies to go. The next stop was a palapa bar on a fairly large island. There was a small village here. The lots here are long and skinny. If you have waterfront property often there is a palapa bar on the water and the family owning it lives further back on the land. The bars become gathering places for family, friends and during this week tourists. They have some of the coldest beer I have ever tasted.
Seriously COLD beers await us!!!
The next stop was where we would incorporate rope swinging into El Salvadorian life style. The palapa bar here was very rustic with wood burning stoves and board walks everywhere. It was built over the mangrove roots and I’m pretty sure an Ewok or two were hiding out somewhere nearby.
Look closely…I think you can see the Ewok…this was, by the way, the best damn grilled fish I have ever had. Served to you whole (but gutted) with salad, rice and homemade tortillas.
We got more coldies and chose our fish that they would grill for us. In the mean time the rope swing was tied up on the overhanging tree. Everyone got into it and we had locals and tourists helping and giving much advice. Josh had some extra poly-pro line and Santos had an old water skiing handle.
This dude was trying to help untangle the mess of poly-pro while muttering under his breath about what a waste it was to tie it to a tree…here, this stuff is like gold for fishing.
Propper knot tying etiquette was practiced…as for the stability of the tree…eeeeaaahhhh
The initial idea was to make it so you could swing out from the dock on the rope. The problem was, the tree was a farther distance away from the dock than the height where the rope was tied….
Many plans were hatched, but in the end, you simply had to climb the tree and roll out over the water.
We continued on from there to a hostel in a small river village. They had a bar and kitchen and served the most amazing crab soup. We continued on up the river letting Josh push through branches and estuary muck….then CB and I realized we were running out of gas. So instead of making it to the mouth of Rio Lempa to check out the surfing situation….we took a shortcut back that would hopefully get us back to the boat without having to row :-) I should say without CB having to row.
In the end we made it back just past dark with lightening striking in the distance. It was a great day with amazing sights and fun times!
Free range horse having a gallop on one of the side tributary islets
River Lempa sunset on the way back….you really can’t capture the beauty of this place….but I gave it a try:-)
While we were at the restaurant several of the local kids attempted the rope swing but always chickened out in the end. On our way back we were rewarded by this little dude hootin’ and hollerin’ at us as we past giving us a big thumbs up as he swung back and forth over the water…we later heard that the rope was stolen…probably the guy mumbling about how good a fishing line it would make…oh well, hope he catches a lot of fish:-)