|El Salvador, May through July, 2004:
|June 19, 2004 - Sitting at the bar at Bahia del Sol using some land energy instead of our precious
energy produced by the sun. I have really fallen behind on these updates—so I’m going to do this in
episodes so as not to inundate you with a big long e-mail.
Lou and the children arrived safely back from the US. They had a wonderful time with family in the
states. When they returned we took a trip into San Salvador and explored some ruins nearby. One of
the ruins is called the Pompeii of the Mayan world. A volcano erupted and covered this Mayan village in
400 AD. Of course, there are many Mayan ruins of the ceremonial centers, but this is unique because it
is more of a depiction of daily life. They also have found a ceremonial center nearby that is only partially
uncovered. It is surprising to me that they don’t use volunteers to help dig up these sites.
We also went to the Anthropology Museum that is very well done and organized. We visited the Romero
museum on the Universidad de CentroAmerica (UCA) campus. This university is run by the Jesuits. It
was here in 1989 that six Jesuits plus their housekeeper and her daughter were shot and killed by the
government. The museum, probably for political reasons, is more a testimony to the way they died
(displays of clothing they were wearing when they were killed) than in their life and philosophies. The
men that were found guilty of the crime (part of the military) were imprisoned only a couple of years for
their roles and then were let out of prison as part of a general amnesty program that was intended to put
the past behind the people of El Salvador, so they could focus on the future. From what I’ve seen, it
seems like this has been successful—the putting the past behind you. The people seem to be peace
loving (who isn’t?) and don’t seem to hold too much animosity for others.
Every morning, we have fresh bread delivered to the boat via panga . The bread man, Misael, has
become a good friend to our family. The first day I met him I talked with him whether there was an
opportunity for Martin to play soccer. He has been organizing this soccer game every week now. He
picks Martin up and then stops at the school to pick up more boys to play soccer. Misael was raised in
this area on an island in the Rio Lempa. During the war, the guerillas took over the island and his family
and others left the island because they were in a no win situation. Later, he ventured to the United
States for work and money. He found his best opportunities in Minnesota where he learned how to make
bread. His uncle and family has returned to the island. We went to the island via panga with Misael and
got to know his family and had fried fish and tortillas with them. They still cook over a wood fire. In fact, I
was left with the impression that for the lifestyle in such a remote village, not much has changed from the
Mayan days. They do have motors on their pangas and they do have a generator on the island. We
saw many in dugout canoes. Misael is a good person. He is well loved and respected by his community.
He works very hard for his family.
August 2, 2004 - We returned from Honduras to Bahia del Sol in El Salvador, and many of our friends
had left their boats for visits to the States. But there were still many boats occupied with Canadians and
US folks. Lou prepped Ace for his long absence and before we knew it—it was time for him to head off
for his Pacific Cup adventure.
While Lou was gone our days were pretty routine. Our mornings started with the sun waking us up at
about 5 a.m. or maybe it was the wake of the pangas as they went by our boat on their way out to sea.
Martin and Emily usually fell back asleep. I usually got up and watched the sunrise over the volcanoes.
The breadman would arrive at around 6:30—honking his bicycle horn madly! I would take a 14 mile bike
ride with a friend about three times a week—as early as we can go since it is so much cooler in the
morning. I love being out on the bike and dodging cows, pigs, turkeys, and dogs and most importantly
greeting everyone along the way. Many times they responded to our “Buenos Dias” with Adios (which is
meant in a nice way, not in a pejorative way-at least they said it with a smile) or Vaya Bien- which I have
begun to say because it means “Go Well”. Once Emily and Martin got out of bed, we would have
breakfast and do some school work. We continued to do math through the summer. Then we usually
had lunch and just enjoyed each others’ company. I tried reading Watership Down to Emily and Martin
but we just didn’t get grabbed by it—like I hoped. At around 3 p.m. they had volleyball on shore and I
would bring the kids in on the dinghy and then I would enjoy doing computer at the bar/ restaurant. There
was too much carnage on the volleyball court for me (yet I allowed my children to participate) We would
have happy hour at 4 p.m. and have some time talking and laughing with each other.
If we go into the closest town—that usually would take at least half a day. I have been working with
some other cruisers at the clinic in a nearby community development that was funded by Catholic
Charities. The other cruisers (a dentist and a dental hygienist) have their portable equipment and they
do check ups, fillings, extractions etc. while I work with the children in the hall talking about brushing teeth
and taking care of our teeth (Yes, I can do it in Spanish!) Among the younger children, there was about
60% bottle rot—where the front teeth have been rotted out by having sweet stuff in the bottle. These are
country people and I’m told it is different in the cities. My parents and cousins, Gene and Grace Savage
brought toothbrushes donated by their local dentists and I gave them out to each child.
We had some wonderful celebrations in Bahia del Sol. We had a summer solstice including a fun jam
session with the kids coming up with a song about the cruisers. Emily and a friend sang and Martin
played guitar. It was a grand evening—but it ended in a thunderstorm. Martin had a wonderful 9th
birthday on July 4th. We even had fireworks! Lots of fun! Fried chicken, potato salad and apple pie.
Sounds pretty red, white and blue to me. Martin only wanted a jam session for his birthday—and that is
what he got. His guitar skills are really taking off, and he loves to play for a crowd. The new cultural
experience that we had was that the Canadians have their birthday celebration on July 1. It was an
enlightening day. I know probably less about our neighbor to the north than I do our neighbors to the
south. For example, I’ve wanted to look this up on the internet—but the Canadians claim that the first
“This Land is Our Land” was written for Canada. I had never heard this before. We also went to a fair in
San Salvador that was an amazing display of commerce—although we didn’t see any pigs, chickens and
cows. Guess they were left at home to cross the road at inopportune times! And we made a wonderful
seafood soup with some of the local ladies in a restaurant kitchen. I sneaked them some wine while their
boss looked the other way. Yummy!
My cousins, Gene, Grace, Brett and Brock Savage visited from College Station, Texas and my cousin,
Tomas Males from Sweden. We had a good time and it was wonderful to be with family. I showed them a
little bit of El Salvador. It became clear to me that this country doesn’t have a lot of developed tourist
attractions. But, it has only been 15 years since their war—a civil war—that destroyed their relationships
with each other and their highways and bridges. These all have been rebuilt—to a new and improved
state. But, I think my cousins enjoyed touring around . I know I enjoyed having family here.
My parents visited and we went to Antigua, Guatemala. I decided it was safe to drive so we rented a car.
It was very nice to have the car and Antigua is a beautiful town. We stayed at a gorgeous hotel.
Unfortunately, my mom—who never gets sick—got very sick. Fortunately, the rest of us weren’t hit as
hard. Mom did get one morning of shopping in—I know that Guatemala would have enjoyed having her
healthy. As usual, Emily and Martin really enjoyed being with their grandparents and were good nurses
when Grandmother got sick.
So, the exciting thing about Lou having the experience of the race and my staying on the boat is that I
think we will make an even better team. Lou has learned a lot about sailing across the pond and I have
learned a lot about my own self sufficiency and taking care of the boat (minimally). Daily, I am thankful
for the beautiful way Lou has set things up on our boat. The things that failed (Ipod and TV—of all
things) have become operational with a little thought. And Emily and Martin have become better
partners on the boat. They have become more aware of what sounds different and our energy
consumption. It really is nice.
When Lou got back from Hawaii, our watermaker started acting up. Though the watermaker is still under
warranty, we would have to pay for shipping outside of the United States, which is extremely expensive in
El Salvador, even if the package is not very heavy. We analyzed our options (one of which was sending
me back to the States with the watermaker) and we hoped that the simplest would work out and it did.
Some cruising friends have a relative who is a pilot for TACA airlines—and he was flying into San
Francisco. We had the necessary replacement parts delivered to a friend, Ted Crocker, who lives near
the hotel where the TACA crew stays. And Ted delivered the package to the hotel. The pilot picked up
the package and brought it to El Salvador. Then my cruiser friend picked it up from the pilot at the gym
where he was working out! She brought it out to Bahia del Sol. Then we picked it up from them with our
dinghy. Doesn’t that sound complicated? But it worked! These human connections are amazing and I’m
constantly in awe and invigorated by them (okay- most of the time—I won’t Pollyanna you—most of you
know me too well and my struggles). Lou rebuilt the pump with the new parts, and then all was well.
So, we left Bahia del Sol, southbound for Nicaragua. No tears shed. But, close. I had developed a close
relationship to many El Salvadorans and it was hard to leave and not be able to answer the question of
when we would return. Hasta pronto (literally- Until Soon: See you soon).
From Lou: The race to Hawaii was a great experience. It’s very nice to sail on someone else’s boat, and
not be responsible for all the decisions and all the problems, small or large, that usually pop up. Thanks,
Michael Moradzadeh! (Michael is the owner of Cayenne, a Passport 40’ that was our racing machine.)
We took 14 days from San Francisco to Oahu, Hawaii. Cayenne has done the same race before in 12
days, and we had hoped to improve that time, but the wind just did not cooperate. However, the light
wind made for pretty relaxing and enjoyable racing. We only changed spinnakers once or twice a day,
and hardly ever jibed, so I enjoyed lots of reading and sleeping and eating. We had many home-cooked
meals frozen on dried-ice, so it was easy to prepare and delicious to eat. With Cayenne’s watermaker,
we were even able to shower fairly often (OK, every 2nd or 3rd day), which is a lot better than most of the
racers on other boats. (Compared to the real race boats, our experience was a luxury cruise!) With
Cayenne’s short-wave radio transceiver, I was able to talk with Mary and the kids every other day, all the
way to Hawaii. That helped me feel less like a deadbeat dad! With 6 crew, we each would be on watch
for 3 hours, and then off for 6. I had so much fun, and enjoyed the other crewmembers so much, that I
was a little sad when Hawaii appeared on the horizon. I easily could have continued for another week or
two. Though we were the first boat to cross the finish line in our division, our handicap knocked us into
3rd place. The whole experience definitely left me more excited about taking Ace across the Pacific.
Reading: We’ll catch you up with our reading list next update.
¡Vaya bien! ¡Hasta pronto!
|Berta is a great cook and
cheese-maker at Isla Monte Cristo.
|Cruising kids hanging out at the pool
at Hotel Bahia del Sol, which hosts
the cruisers anchored nearby.
|Clowning around at the San Andres
Mayan ruins in El Salvador.
|Lou with a rescued Scarlet Macaw at
a bird sanctuary in Honduras.
|At the Rio Sapo (Frog River) in
northeastern El Salvador. This is
near Perquin, which was guerilla
territory during the war.
|Sunrise over Volcan San Vicente in
El Salvador, as we approached from
|Stepping across the border from
Guatemala into Honduras, where we
visited the Mayan ruins at Copan.