In celebration of Teacher’s Day, which was Wednesday, the teachers at my school were going to the beach today. They’d asked me yesterday if I’d be able to go and I checked with the Pastoral Team. The Team said yes so today I was headed to the beach. A microbus was going to be picking us up at the school at 6am which means I rolled out of bed at 5:30am. I am not a morning person so this was a bit of a struggle for me. But I’d packed up the night before and so I was out the door by 5:45am.
When I got to the school there were 7 other teachers already there. The microbus arrived at 6:15am and we were off. I was a little bummed at first because there were only 8 of us, but we ended up picking up 9 other teachers along the way so there were 17 of us. Several of the teachers live in nearby Mercedes Umaña which was on the way to the beach so it didn’t make sense for them to backtrack to Berlín. I was told it was about a 2 hour drive to the beach where we were headed called Las Tunas in the department of La Unión. In El Salvador, the word “tuna” does not refer to the fish but to a kind of cactus that is like the prickly pear cactus. However, no one knew why the beach was called Las Tunas (there were no cacti at the beach).
We made a stop in San Miguel so everyone could get breakfast. I wasn’t feeling terribly hungry so I passed. The area where we stopped was in the Metro Centro which is like a mall. I’d never been there so the director of the school and I walked around to look at the stores. It wasn’t exactly like the malls you’d find in the US but it was the closest thing to a mall that I’ve been to in El Salvador. After about 45 minutes everyone was done eating and we were back in the microbus. It was another hour to the beach and we continued listening to music.
We arrived at the beach around 9:30. The tide was high and all the way up to several of the restaurant areas. We found a good spot and unloaded our things from the microbus. Someone brought out menus for us so we could order right away and they’d have the food ready by noon. I usually have fish at the beach but the shrimp sounded good so that’s what I chose. We all looked at the water, took some pictures, and chatted for a while. Everyone had brought “swim clothes” with them. Most people in El Salvador swim in their clothes here. This was my fourth trip to the beach here and I’ve always wore shorts or capris and a tank top. I’ve only seen people in swimming suits a few times and it always seems out of place.
After ordering I went down the stairs to go walk along the shore and look for shells. Melba and Roxana joined me on my walk. We waded in the water, collected shells, and posed for lots of pictures. Melba really likes taking pictures so we ended up taking a ton. The tide was still high so we were pretty close to the other restaurants along the beach. After a while we reached a point when we decided it wouldn’t be safe to go further and we turned around.
In the microbus headed to the beach
The tide is high (but I'm holding on...)
We're at the beach!
In my beach clothes
Reading the newspaper
Just for fun
In the water at last
Hello up there!
Looking down the shore
Roxana and me
Keeping close to the shore
We went a little picture crazy
Up to another restaurant
Looking back down the beach
Melba and Roxana
Back at the restaurant I saw that many of the other teachers were having some drinks so I promptly asked where mine was. They all laughed and poured me something to drink. I sat down and we talked. There was an old juke box that played CDs so we picked out lots of songs to listen to. A couple people even got up to dance a little bit. We basically just sat around and talked until lunch was ready.
By lunchtime I was hungry and ready to eat. I’d ordered shrimp which came with salad, rice, and two tortillas. I’d forgotten to order something to drink so I just had the water I’d brought with me. During lunch a group of three guys came around with instruments asking if we wanted to hear any songs. We paid to hear them play four songs. It was wonderful to just sit by the beach, eat, and enjoy some music.
When we were close to being done eating someone came around selling crabs. Two of the teachers bought crabs to take back home. I said we could name them: this one is named lunch, this one is named dinner, etc. Some children also came around selling creations they’d made with shells. This is common at other beaches in El Salvador as well. I bought a little basket made out of shells for the Team. I also got a shell necklace that had little turtle beads on it as well.
Finally, a little boy came around selling a large shell decoration. I’m not exactly sure what it was. It had three big shells glued together and several little shells around it. The little boy had a big hole in his shirt and he looked like he came from a poor family. Being the sucker that I am, I ended up buying it (it only set me back $2). At some point after that an older man using two sticks as a cane in each hand came up to where we had been eating. I didn’t see him come up but when I looked over I saw that several of the teachers had given him some of their food and a drink and he was sitting at the table eating. I was happy to see that they’d shared food with him and that he’d been invited to sit at the table. It’s good to see people that you respect doing nice things for others.
When we’d all finished eating and buying some trinkets I headed back down to the beach. The tide has rolled out and left lots of shells behind. The guys were behind me and brought a soccer ball to kick around. A couple other teachers joined me as did the director, Andres. We walked out past the point where I’d walked earlier and found a small inlet where the water was warmer. We played and swam in the water there for almost an hour. Andres and I had a couple swimming contests and at one point I pretended that I was a shark and snuck up on Roxana. This resulted in everyone laughing hysterically.
You're having drinks without me?
Still in the hammock
Time to dance
I'll dance later
The sign behind them says, "Share the friendship"
Men at work
May I have this dance?
It was quiet
Punches (a kind of crab)
Playing futbol on the beach
Lots of fun
Little shells on a rock
Seeing what's ahead
Low hanging clouds
It's a shark!
Showing off my shells
Is is safe to go in?
Lounging in the water
Cows on the beach
The water began to cool down and we could see that a storm was going to roll in so we started to walk back to the restaurant. Shortly after we got back it started pouring down rain. We all showered off in the little shower area to get some of the sand off. Once everyone was relatively clean and into dry clothes we got back into the bus and left at 4pm on the dot. We’d spent a little over 6 hours at the beach.
The ride back was just as fun as the ride to the beach with lots of music and singing. Not long after we left the beach it started pouring down rain. We got stuck in traffic as we drove through San Miguel which added an extra 45 minutes to our trip. The front window of the microbus starting fogging up so Sandra had to keep wiping it off with newspaper for the driver. But we all made it back safe and sound. I walked in the front door at 7pm. I attempted to stay awake for a while to get things done by eventually fell fast asleep at 11pm.
Walking back to the restaurant
Back on the bus
It's pouring down rain!
The little shell creation from the boy
Mouse shell gifts from one of the teachers