El Salvador Rally - Bahia del Sol, El Salvador
26 April 2012 | Bahia del Sol, El Salvador
In Mazatlan we met Bill and Jean on Mita Kuuluu, who are the organizers of the El Salvador Rally. This is a destination rally held at Bahia del Sol Marina from March 17 to April 29 with many land based activities. The rally is sponsored in large by the El Salvadorian government which made it very easy to check into the country. There was over 50 boats that made the trek from Mexico this year. We enjoyed the rally immensely as it was a great opportunity to meet other cruisers and do some land travel to see this beautiful country. The government is trying to promote tourism and at our opening dinner we had the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Tourism and the head of the Ports present.
You have to remember though that this is a third world country thus the amenities are as such. The docks are made with long logs with 2x4 decking supported by barrels. The cleats are lag bolted through the deck and into the logs. The average population does not have all the luxuries we have either living usually in tin or thatched roofed huts with walls made from whatever is available. As we drove past the poor areas in San Salvador I could not avoid noticing all the satellite dishes on the roofs of the tin shacks. I am sure they are accompanied by a big screen TV where I imagine the locals would watch Dancing With the Stars, lol! It is normal to see true dugout canoes crossing the estuary laden with people, water jugs, food and other wares. There is no fresh water on the island in the estuary thus all water and supplies have to be transported in by water. When you drive through the villages you see long eared cows, pigs, dogs and chickens running free. The cows and horses are their system of keeping the roadside grass short. You have to get used to the smell of burning garbage and plastic in the night as this is their way of disposing of garbage. Since it is a poor country there is no recycling or garbage pickup programs, except maybe in San Salvador. The first time I smelt this off the coast of Mexico I was checking the boat to see what was burning. They also burn the sugar cane fields prior to harvesting which smells very much like marijuana burning. The people are very friendly and we never have felt unsafe. They are very proud and always want to know how we like El Salvador.
Bahia del Sol is a bit isolated thus provisioning is usually done at the local market, a 20 minute dinghy ride up the estuary, or in San Salvador. The market is very rustic with limited selection. San Salvador is a hour and a half taxi ride away ($80.00US) or several hours on a chicken bus. We would usually get several boats together and take a van/taxi. San Salvador is very Americanized and has everything available at good prices. Booze, food and textiles are relatively cheap; we even found Sunbrella for $9.95US per yard. One of our cruisers purchase a new Yamaha 15HP 2 stroke for about $2500.00US.
At 4:00pm each day is cruisers Happy Hour. This is when the cruisers migrate to the pool at the marina to cool off, social time and enjoy $1.00 beers, etc. Many of us are on mooring ball in the estuary while others are at the docks and a few at anchor. Since the moorings balls are only $100.00 per month we find it is not worth it to be at anchor as you should reset weekly or you anchor will be way down in the mud. As with any area near the jungle the bugs come out at happy hour to greet us; although we do not get them on the boat in the estuary.
We found the rally was well worth it but also realise that crossing the bar can be a filter to cruisers wanting to join. You should remember that each boat is guided in and as long as you follow the pilots instructions you should have no problems.