Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Ruta De Las Flores

9th – 11th February

El Salvador Bus

El Salvador

Banana Pinny
Pinnies are El Salvador

After Santa Ana we wanted to get into more country than city and so headed into one of El Salvador’s two main tourist routes. These recent creations aim to encourage Salvadoreans more than foreigners to go out and spend some tourist dollar. In the west, and near to Santa Ana, was the Ruta De Las Flores which we went on. The other is in the east and is the more serious and disturbing Ruta De La Paz which gives visitors the opportunity to see communities emptied by army massacres and talk to individuals who fought on either side or lost their families during the Civil War of the 1980s. We are interested in discovering something about this but the Ruta De La Paz is well off our route through El Salvador and we will be in places to learn about Nicaragua’s Civil War.


Apaneca Door

The Ruta De Las Flores is four mountain towns connected by a flush of winter flowers and brightly painted electricity poles sporting flowery scenes. The bus ride from the nearest town, Achuapan, climbs through scenic wooded valleys. We made straight for the village of Apaneca, or Up Ya Knickers as we so maturely called it, because one guide book describes it as the most delightful of the towns. Seeing the others later, we’re very happy with our choice.

Cathedral Grill

They don’t get many foreign visitors round these parts we thought after a thousand stares and shouted English words from passing youths – Hello, Goodbye, Good Afternoon to you all too!

Basketball Shadow

The climate is fantastic, the people incredibly friendly, the pinnies as frilly as they can be. There are plenty of flowers too, as well as a pleasant lake in an old volcanic crater which made for a good Sunday walk along Elvis Presley Boulevard (don’t turn right onto Las Vegas Boulevard).

Elvis Blvd

We made a day trip to Juayua, famed for its Black Christ statue in the church, and Nahuizalco, known for its handicrafts. Each was significantly larger and grimier than the last – great to visit but Apaneca is the most tranquil to stay in. The throbbing market in Nahuizalco was bedecked with all colours of frilly pinnies and some stall holders even let me photograph them. The frilly pinny is the national women’s dress of El Salvador. Any woman who cooks or sells something appears to wear one with a sassy swagger but rarely with any attempt to match colours with blouses or skirts beneath.

El Pinny

Jesus Pupusas

The market comedors and Jesus Loves You pupuseria are great places for well-made good-value food where you can people watch. At the latter you also get a Charismatic Christian pop band and lots of clapping thrown in for free because it is right outside one of the many non-conformist churches.


Getting There
It is easy to get a chicken bus from Ahuachapan, on the international and Tica bus routes, to Apaneca or Juayua – destination Sonsonate. The current fare is about $0.50.

We stayed in the Hostal Rural De Orquideas which has four en-suite rooms with hot showers along one side of a lovely grassy courtyard, with rocking chairs and hammocks on the verandah. There is also an odd assortment of ‘antiques’ from iron flat irons to reel-to-reel tape players and 1970s phones.

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