Sunday, December 16, 2012

Out of La Palma

Our destination, Suchitoto, is another over-hyped place, with overpriced hotel rooms and broiling weather. I loved the cool weather of La Palma, but there was no good hotel room to be had. Begrudgingly we packed our stuff as the conference was getting underway a second day. Having scoped out the bus situation, instead of trudging the few hundred meters to the main bus stop, we simply parked ourselves across the street in the shade and proceeded to patiently wait for the bus. Five minutes later, a kind man passed by, seeing us with our backpacks, alerted us that there will be no bus today. There is "el paro" (strike - a bus driver's strike) going on.

After confirming the situation at our favorite Mexican restaurant, John and I immediately switched into emergency mode. I did not want to go back to the hotel, so we had to go on. We put on our packs and marched down to the main stop. There was a micro-van going to south to Amayo which John immediately recognized as a town along the way. The driver even agreed to $2.50 instead of $3 for the fare, in such a crisis situation?! After a easy 45-minute ride, we arrived at the crossroad in Amayo. There were very many people waiting for alternative transportation, surprisingly orderly looking. We asked around for the various routes to Suchitoto. The consensus was to proceed south to Aguilares by waiting at the NE corner of the crossroad.

Less than five minutes later, two pickups drove up and people crowded onto them. The nice man John happened to ask about going to Aguilares came to tell us the second one was going to Aguilares. The fare was $1. We concluded these pickups were temporary relief for the strike, not at all trying gouge people. The nice man turned into our temporary conductor for the ride. He could barely whistle, which is how they communicate with the driver. haha!

When I got up this morning, I had no idea that I was going score another mode of transportation. Just five years ago, I would not have thought that could do it. Now that I have traveled and seen enough, I was mentally prepared for the ride.  Yet I was not physically prepared. Standing up in the back of a pickup was no problem what so ever, but the wind was like nothing I had experience before, considering I never like to have the car window open even a crack unless I am about to have a heat stroke.

I had been in speed boats in compulsory situations. The pickup was going much faster. I imaged parachuting minus the gravity challenge, or riding in a convertible without a windshield....Mercifully we arrived in Aguilares in twenty minutes. The regular bus to Suchitoto was running there, talk about the detour?! Turns our that only 5% of the drivers were out on strike.

When we finally settled into our hotel room in Suchitoto my cheeks were still vibrating from the pickup ride.

Suchitoto - El Salvador


Crash Eddy said...

The well seasoned travelers score another adventure. Good on ya!

john said...

For sure Ed. Strikes and/or landslides = adventure!

WQZ said...

I remember you rode with a truck driver in china, but this time you really did it, the real deal. I imagine I would have a headache and burning eyes. Look at those locals, like nothing happened.

Sun-Ling said...

In China, we got to ride in the cab of a blue truck. In Yosemite, we sat in the back of a pickup for about a mile. John had warned this when we were in SE Asia, but they had benches and were covered. This time I really did it!