Monday, December 29, 2008


El Salvador, Central America

El of chocolate, volcanoes, bicycles, and sugarcane fields. Here's a photo of the Niki Wiki on a mooring ball here in the Barillas Marina Club in Jiquilisco Bay. Yes, that IS a volcano in the background, the active San Miguel volcano to be specific, which last erupted in 2002.

We are 9 miles up a river estuary in the mangroves. Yes, there are biting bugs. But, there is also other wildlife that hasn't bitten us (yet). Each morning we are awakened by the sounds of the birds - we've seen collared forest falcons, osprey, great blue herons, yellow crested herons, mangrove swallows, egrets, and of course, the noisy grackles. Then there are the racoons, and the occasional crocodile.

What have we been doing? Well, first a photo of a pair of quick generic socks for Jonesy that came off the needles right before we left Mexico. The yarn is Regia stretch - my first time using this yarn. Jonesy wore them today for the first time so I'll save my final opinion on the yarn until after a few washings. More photos to come of the 3 more pairs of men's socks that I knit since then. I turned off my designing brain and just knit generic socks while we traveled. After working so hard on the Holiday Mystery Gift patterns I needed to unwind.

We've been busy with drives (rides in a free van with a driver) into the nearest town (Usulutan) about 45 minutes away twice a week for basic provisioning and visits to the dentist for Jonesy in San Salvador. Wouldn't you know it? Just as we left Mexico for the 4-night, 5-day nonstop passage to El Salvador, Jonesy got a toothache.

And it was a big one. I started him on antibiotics just in case it was an abcess - it turned out it was. He suffered the whole trip. Thankfully, the motoring & sailing across the gulf of Tehuantepec was almost a non-event. No winds, calm seas, clear skies, very smooth going.

The same day that we arrived at the Barillas Marina Club, the manager got a dentist appointment for Jonesy and off we went. First the 45 minute ride to Usulutan (about half of that trip is on the dirt road pictured here going through the sugarcane fields and cacao forests). That dentist referred him to a specialist in San Salvador 2 1/2 hours away for treatment (root canals). The manager here in the marina got a SAME DAY appointment at the specialist and arranged a van to take us there. WOW! What personal service!

Today was his 3rd visit to the specialist (at $100 per 5-hour round trip with private driver) and he's out of pain. Now just a couple more visits to the first dentist for a crown and he'll be good to go again. Excellent dental experience - the endodontist was trained in the USA - Conneticut. The cost? $250 US - less than what the deductible would have been with our old insurance back when we worked at jobs (sorry I used that dirty 4-letter word - jobs). We'll see what the crown costs later this week.

So... I mentioned cacao forests. Yep - we're talking chocolate in the rough. See, the cocoa pods grow along the trunks and branches of the cacao tree, which grows in the shade of old growth giant trees. Here is me with a little tree at the club. And below is one of the pods cut open.

I was shown that you could eat the fruit inside that surrounds the seeds (later called beans) and I tried it. Not special. Just really slimy. Snot slimy. Eeeew. In order to become cocoa beans the seeds have to ferment for a few days, I'd rather not think about that.

At the open-air market in town I bought a chunk of chocolate about the size of a can of beer for 80 cents. It is the BEST chocolate - as it melts in my mouth, a rich floral smell rises up my nose and I actually close my eyes and make little murmuring noises. The sugar is a little grainy, but for the flavor I'll overlook the crunch.

Oh, and I did decorate for Christmas this year. See? I hung up the ornaments.

More later ... the cheeseburgers and real french fries have been delivered to the table. We're sitting in the dark under thatched roof picnic tables using the free WiFi in the pool area.

You'll like the yarn... I've used it many times, and I like the results. I think I have a ball picked out to make a pair for Heather on Meercat.

The goo in the cacao pod looks like hand cream....

I love reading your adventures. Sorry about the dental issues, glad it's all better.
ahhhh, that chocolate sounds SO good! Yeah, I could overlook the crunch, too. Those pods are STRANGE! Glad Jonesy's dental problems are being taken care of. Nothing worse than a toothache onboard a cruiser (except maybe a bladder infection)! Thx for all your hard work for the Holiday Mystery Gift group; I didn't get to knit much (too much client work, yay!) but downloaded all the patterns and hope to get some stuff made in 2009. Enjoy that beautiful anchorage! Deborah/Benicia
That photo of Niki-Wiki is fabulous. This mooring sounds like a fabulous place! Chocolate does look like a fruit, hanging on the tree in its native habitat, doesn't it?!
Just wanted to say Thanks & Happy new year... I've read your blog for about a year and enjoyed every one. I am a knitter and wanna-be sailor (I did take a two-hour sail last May...) and love to hear about your travels, adventures & knitting.
Shannon (ravelry:knitnpal)
I love the decoratios for Christmas! Do they celebrate alot down there for the holiday? Well I am glad that Jonseys tooth is, dental work there is cheap!! Well I hope you continue to have a good rest of the week and a good trip
Glad to hear Jonsey is better. BIG tip for the guy who set that up!

Good to see you - love keeping up with you.
I too love to follow your travels. Happy New Year to you and Jonesy!
Socks for me? YEA!!
love the socks and OMG I would love to have seen the CoCoa thats to cool!!!NOW the Ornaments are sooo pretty!!!! I so want to make some Ornaments for my tree for next year. I made a sweater for my tree lol...I had like 6 diffrent ones i could have knitted but HATED the patterns.
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