Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Cerro El Pital & La Palma

Tuesday, 8-30-11

Road trip
Today I spent 10 hours in the bed of the pickup truck. Why did I do this? Well, we were taking a road trip to the city of La Palma and the mountain Cerro El Pital. Microbuses are expensive so we went by truck. We left this morning at 7:00am. Kathy was driving with Aminta, Blanca, and Idalia in the back seat and Sue sitting in the front seat. Nancy, Cecilia, and I were outside in the bed of the truck. It took about 2½ hours to get to our destination in San Salvador. The ride went smoothly. We were driving too fast to talk so I listened to music throughout much of the trip.

We got to the gas station in San Salvador a little after 9:30am where we were meeting Alfredo who’d be driving us the rest of the way. We made a pit stop and bought some munchies for the ride. Then we left around 10am. Kathy and Sue joined us outside as we drove north to La Palma and Cerro El Pital. It was extremely windy since we were driving faster than on the canton roads so several of us put on bandanas or scarves. At one point I laid down in the bed of truck to take a quick nap. I woke up when we were getting close to La Palma. We drove through La Palma since we were going to Cerro El Pital first.

Riding in the back

En route to San Salvador

The Rio Lempa

Sue's got a Bubu Lubu!

En route to La Palma

Love the scarf!

Sue's jacket looks huge!

I'm taking a nap

Being silly

Cerro El Pital
Cerro El Pital is a mountain on the border of El Salvador and Honduras. It is 2,730 meters (8,957 feet) tall and is the highest point in El Salvador. It is also the coldest place in El Salvador with an average annual temperature is 10 °C (50 °F). On April 13th, 2004 the temperature hit record lows and much of the area was covered in frost, ice, and snow. Going to see this mountain was another thing on my list of things to do. But since it is so far away from Berlín I didn’t think I’d ever get to go there. But since it’s (reasonably) close to La Palma we decided to go for it.

As we drove further up the mountain it began to get cool. The clouds were all around us at some points so it was hard to see. But the scenery was beautiful. There were lots of pine trees which I never associated with El Salvador as well as many plants and flowers that aren’t common in the Berlín area. The entire atmosphere changed and it kind of felt like we were driving in Colorado. We saw several goats, different kinds of corn, and a couple quaint towns along the way.

We made it to the top of Cerro El Pital at noon. We hopped out of the truck to look around for a while. There is a campsite where a lot of people stay (I’m guessing during the dry season). We walked up a little trail to see the different flowers and plants. Everything was so green! And the ladies kept commenting on all the flowers. Several we didn’t recognize and others were huge in comparison to the ones in Berlín. They especially liked all the hydrangea. Aminta said they looked like big pillows. Cecilia pointed out the ferns she liked, commenting on how large they were. Idalia found some moss that she held up to her face as a beard. And Blanca picked up some fruit/seeds that she didn’t recognize. We later found out they were seeds from a tree related to the oak tree.

We took a couple more pictures and wandered a little more before taking off. Though there wasn’t a whole lot to do up there I was glad we’d made the trip. The ride back down to La Palma went faster since the truck didn’t have to climb the steep hills. It got less cloudy and warmer as we went further down the mountain. At one point we stopped because we saw some people unloading tons of tomatoes. The ladies went to ask if they could buy some but weren’t sure if they could since they weren’t buying in bulk. Of course they could buy some! They ended up with several bags of beautiful tomatoes. Then we continued on our way down the mountain to La Palma.

Riding to Cerro El Pital

It's getting chilly

Only 13.5 kilometers now

The scenery is changing

Lots of clouds

Are we still in El Salvador?

There's some corn


Up the windy road

A little town up the mountain

The road is disappearing

Are we sure this isn't Colorado?

Different landscape


The campsite at El Pital

Pretty flowers

Not sure what these are

Looking down the mountain

Idalia is pointing out something

Lots of clouds

Ceci checking out the large hydrangea

Sue leads the way

The rest of the group

Group shot!

A race to the end of the trail

I like this tree trunk

Everything was green and moist

Aminta and her hydrangea pillows

Fuzzy little plant

Taking it all in

Heading back down

Nice beard!

The mystery seed

Many pretty flowers

So yellow!

Calla lilies

I've never seen these before

I think this is a type of bromelaid

I like this bug

Heading back to La Palma

The goat is still there


Love this tree


Now let's go the other way!

Buying tomatoes

Comfortable in the back

It took a while to go 12.5 kilometers

There's La Palma

La Palma
La Palma is known for its art and the town became popular when artist Fernando Llort moved there in 1972. He soon developed an art trend that still represents El Salvador around the world. Llort’s childlike images of mountain villages, campesinos, or images of Christ are painted in bright colors on anything from seeds to wall of churches. He taught some residents in La Palma how to create the same images and soon began a cooperative that churned out dozens of painted artifacts, from letters to crosses to keyrings to napkin holders. Today, the local population’s strongest source of income comes from the production of handcrafts. About 75 % of the town makes a living by selling their products in the country. Some have even founded cooperatives and managed to start exporting their goods (Alfa Travel Guide).

We got back to La Palma at 2:00pm and went in search of a cool restaurant Nancy had been to before. We found the restaurant and ordered lunch since we were all very hungry. After ordering the server said we could look around for while since the place is also a hotel. We walked down lots of stairs to go see the small river in town. Everyone collected some rocks to take back home. Then we wandered back up to the restaurant. The place has lots of paintings and artwork all around since La Palma is an artisan town. The roofs, wall, and even hotel rooms are painted in the Llort style.

After a while our lunch arrived and we sat down to eat. I’d ordered a kabob (can’t remember the actual name) with beef, chicken, pork, and veggies and some fries. Everything was delicious and went down easily. For a while conversation ceased and all you could hear was the sucking sound of us inhaling our food. When everyone had finished we went out to the truck while Kathy bought a napkin holder she liked for the Pastoral House. There was a cute, little bunny outside sitting in a flower pot. I went over to pet it and was surprised that it didn’t run away. I think it belong to the hotel.

Next we headed for a cooperative where they sell a lot of artisan products made in the town. Some of the things they had were similar to the artisan stores in San Salvador but here there was much more variety in the painted goods. We spent about an hour looking around. I ended up with a beautiful cross as well about a painting of women on an unframed piece of cloth. But mostly I spent my time looking around. Everything was so beautiful and all unique. It was very hard to choose what to get and I knew I didn’t need to go home with everything. Soon it was time to head back and we left La Palma around 5:00pm.

Walking down to the river from the restaurant

Oh, thank you, Sue!

In search of rocks

Rolling river

Strolling along

Sitting by the pool at the hotel

Typical La Palma artwork

One of the rooms at the hotel

I love the painting with the women

The roof of the hotel

We argued about whether this was a
tree or the El Salvador del Mundo statue

Lounging in a chair

Let's eat!

Mmmm, lunch

Bunny at the restaurant

Of course, I had to pet it

The artisan shops

So much to see

Painting seeds

Flowers on seeds

Looking at the artwork

Going back home
The part of the road trip when you’re going back home is always harder than the part when you’re traveling to your destination. And the first leg of the trip home, from La Palma to San Salvador, wasn’t too bad. Especially at first, we were all talking and goofing around. But the ride from San Salvador to Berlín was not pleasant. It was dark and very cold outside and I know Kathy was exhausted inside the truck. I laid down and tried to sleep but had a hard time getting comfortable.

We got back to the Pastoral House a little before 9:30pm. When we pulled up to the house I said, “Quiero morir” (I want to die). Idalia responded, “Puede morir porque estamos en casa” (You can die because we’re home). We were all tired, wind burned, and lightly toasted from the sun. Sue and I looked like raccoons since we’d had sunglasses on which protected part of our faces. Nancy looked wind bitten as well. Cecilia and I had sat outside in the bed of the pickup the entire way. That’s 10 hours. I don’t think I ever want to do that again. But all in all, it was a fun day.

Back in the truck and being silly

They look kind of like Oompa Loompas

Cecilia is hiding

There she is!

It's so cold!!!

1 comment:

Matt said...

Wow, long day in the back of the truck. I'm glad you were able to make it to the mountain. It looked really beautiful there.