Rushing to the lake

Trip Start Jan 19, 2006
Trip End Jan 19, 2007

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Flag of El Salvador  ,
Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Up early again and off to the market through the main square trying to avoid all the hot dog and sandwich stalls.  We go to the market and buy some freshly chopped fruit in plastic bags which we eat for breakfast in the square.
Then off to get our last internet fix for a while and to the market to buy a coat (will tell more later) and the supermarket to stock up on alcohol and snacks for our next little trip.
We get a bus from around the corner from our hotel (our first official chicken bus!!) to the terminal which we have to walk through the massive market with music blaring out everywhere.

We got on the 220 bus to the el lago.  Buses are all very brightly painted again with the start and destination painted on the front.  Bus is empty as we leave the bus station and inch our way out into the market streets.  The market is definitely more of a priority than the buses here as the bus has to constantly reverse and turn to dodge the stalls and takes about 20 mins to go down 2 streets to the main street.  As we get to the main street the bus is now full as people jump onto the back of the bus.
We leave Santa Ana and make our way into the lush green countryside, it is very hilly here with lots of trees and plantations.  The bus ride goes through a couple of villages with small shops and stops a lot to let people on and off.  We get to the biggish town of El Congo before we start descending down windy roads when we get our first glimpse of the lake.  It looks like a huge green bowl full of clear blue water.  It is very much a crater lake and is incredibly beautiful.  A few km down and we start to approach a few little shops and then a hostel.  We go into Amacuilco which is recommended in the book but looks like it needs a bit of TLC to us.  They have no double rooms so they kindly ring somewhere else they know that has.  Apparently they have double rooms with private bathrooms for $15 or $20 not v cheap but about the same as here.  They then say it is the Hotel Torremilinos which is sposed to be more pricey and does not have rave reviews on our guide book. 
We wander a few doors down to go and have a look anyway.  The hotel looks a bit like an old Spanish hacienda with lots of arches and a red tiled roof.  The restaurant has a great view of the lake and then there are lawns and a restaurant on stilts virtually in the lake.     There are also 3 swimming pools and some nice gardens.  It is all very quiet too.
We try not to get too excited by the prospect of staying here and convince ourselves it must be $15 a night each.  The owner who was speaking to the Amacuilco people returns from her shopping trip 15 mins later and tells us which rooms we could have at this price (and they are not the car park rooms we thought would be offered to us!!)  They are both nice but negotiate for the nicest one for $15 as we plan to stay 4 nights (the duration has suddently increased having seen this place and the price - is better than the coast in our opinion which can also be pricey).  Rooms here are normally $30.  We get unpacked and out onto the grass by the lake and then try and avoid the mossies by sitting on our patio area.  Watch our first great sunset across the lake with a volcanic green mound ahead of us. 
Go for a little walk to one of the pontoony type restaurants nearby (there are only about 4 in total here) which is dead.  We have some prawn ceviche and a salad and a free beef consome.  The only thing that spoils the mood is the music they insist on blaring out across the lake. 
Have a proper chill out day sitting by the pool, sunbathing, swimming.  We get all our Spanish notes out from our lessons many months ago and review them all and condense them into a lot less than the mounds of paper we are currently carrying.  We are embarrassed by some of our bad Spanish we have been speaking over the last few months and now have taken the opportunity to correct it but are also glad that we have learnt a lot more vocab in the meantime.
We go for a wander down the street to look at what some of the tiny shops sell hoping to buy some bread and water.  There is no bread anywhere apart from cakes which dont go too well with tinned sardines.  1 bottle of water we can locate and also 1 beer.  They are awaiting deliveries.  I dont think I could survive here long term.
Instead we order salads from the stilt restaurant which are huge and great for only $4.  Then watch another great sunrise while enjoying a glass of red wine from the Santa Ana supermarket. They dont seem to mind us doing what we want here which is great.  We seem to be the only people staying here too!
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