Almost climbing another volcano

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

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Flag of El Salvador  ,
Friday, December 15, 2006

We get up for 5.45 and get the 6am bus up to El Congo which is surprisingly busy.  We are then told the bus to Cerro Verde comes in about half an hour by one person or an hour or so by someone else.  We go to a pupuseria and have a few cheese and bean pupusas which are still delicious.
We wait back on the street watching loads of buses go past and delivery trucks and sales people.  At about 8.30 the 248 bus we were waiting for zooms past without stopping completely empty.  We walk to find it in a garage up the road being serviced and are told another will come in about 30 mins.  Before 9am a bus does arrive which is not the 248 but is going to Cerro Verde, god knows how many of these buses went passed without us noticing!  Anyway we get on our way to the national park.  The route is beautiful following the rim of the volcano. On our right is the lake and our left fabulous green views of the plains.  There are loads of coffee plantations on our way and tiny villages with workers and shops in the street.  As we approach the park we see the classic cone-shaped Volcan

Izalco.  Off the bus we pay our entrance fee and go to the viewing platform to see the volcano closer. We are virtually at the same height as the crater.  It is incredibly steep.  To our right is Volcan Santa Ana which is more of a mountain shape (although it is the highest peak in El Salvador) which is very green.  We plan to climb this today but when we get to the tourist info guides they say we canīt today as there are no police to take us up.  You need to go with a police guide as there have been several robberies here. It appears they only do the guiding at weekends though and you cant go alone. 
Instead we get taken around 2 of the trails by Maira who first takes us to  the orchid garden and tells us about the different types. There are only 2 lots flowering at the moment, May is the best time apparnetly.  We then do the other trail called windows on the world through a forest around a small crater where we can see the other volcanoes and the lake. She tells us that the national park is 54 manzanas big.  Last time we checked manzanas were apples and we think its bigger than 54 of those.  Our dictionary doesnīt have an alternative explanation but assume its like hectares.  We see 3 other foreigners on our walk and loads of locals.  We then give Maira a tip and explore the 3rd trail and picnic area on our own. We only spend about 1 1/2 hours here and our disappointed not to do the volcano climb.  We are also told the next bus isnt til at least midday.  So we decide to walk down to the main road which is about 8km and is at least some exercise.  
After 5 mins of walking down a man in is mineral water delivery van stops and offers us a lift down. It is Enrique from Santa Ana who seems a really nice guy.  He is happy to take us to El Congo he says.  We talk about local food, Christmas, the weather, etc.  He even stops for us to take photos!  He points out the locals working in the coffee plantations and carrying huge heavy bags of beans on their backs.
When we get to El Congo he drops us off and refuses $1 for a beer.  Very nice guy.
In El Congo we attempt to buy some bread.  None apart from cakes or huge sliced loaves.  Tell us will have to go to Santa Ana to get some!  Only about an hour away.  Manage to buy some more water though.  I am keen to buy some El Salvadorean wine until we read the ingredients list which includes grapes and orange juice.  Hmmmmmmmmmm.
Find an internet place as we are keen to still sort out our Christmas plans.  Then get the bus back home and sunbathe and read the rest of the day by the pool.
Later on we both go for a run (first time ever) and then a swim.  More sunset viewing, salad and then bed.  Its a tough life.
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