Days 3, 4 and 5

By James Johnson at August 19, 2005 15:06
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It’s been a great two days. We’re all enjoying this trip a lot and it’s so much more than a gringo from ‘merica had imagined. The country is absolutely beautiful…green, lush, and tropical. It has been raining off an on the past two days and a harder storm is due tomorrow. United Airlines says our bags will be in tomorrow, so after we call in the morning to confirm, we’ll head off to San Salvador to pick them up. It will be nice to wear our own clothes again.

Yesterday we went to Lago Coatepeque and had lunch at Hotel Torremolino. The lake was formed from a volcanic crater and is about 3 kilometers in diameter. The water has been receding over the years and it’s peculiar to see the piers coming out from the buildings, standing like spindly leg spiders. We ate on one platform which was about 30 feet above the ground. A calm cool breeze soothed us while we ate local fish, deep-fried and stuffed with shrimp. Various birds flew by, including several groups of parrots. We drove around the small town and found a house on the lake for sale. Actually two homes on 1.18 acre, complete with a caretaker family for 1.2 million colones. The exchange rate is currently 1:8.75, so you can do the math. :)

The lake itself is about 3000 feet from the top of the crater, with a long winding hard-packed dirt road to and from the main road. Coming up from the lake it started raining hard, and riding in the back of a pick-up truck, in the rain, on a bumpy dirt road, in a forest, with dark forbidding skies and lightning flashes was quite exhilarating…to say the least. All we need was a Tyrannosaurus Rex chasing us and it would have been directly from Jurassic Park.

Today we toured Centro (the center of) Santa Ana. Carmina took us to the Catholic Cathedral, which is the only Gothic style Catholic church in Central America. There were so many pigeons there; it reminded us of Trafalgar Square in London. There is a central park bordered by the Cathedral, the National Theatre, City Hall and the old National Police Station. Our next stop was the National Theatre, built in 1910, which is in the process of being renovated. It is the only theatre in Central America to have such elegance and is absolutely beautiful inside. Sitting quietly and letting your mind wander, you can envision all the history and events that having taken place over the past 100 years. Amy took the opportunity to sing a few arias. We took several pictures which when we looked at them later, up close, have unfamiliar energy artifacts in them. Interesting.

After the theatre, we stopped by the National Police Station, which is now the home of the Asociación del Patrimonio Cultural de Santa Ana. We were greeted by Salvador Solis who took it upon himself to give us a tour of the building and tell us its history. During the civil war it was used as a government interrogation center and prison, and he eluded that many executions took place there. What is important to know, is that now this building is being used as a place to teach children art, music and dance. What a complete and peaceful turnaround this is.

We walked back to the restaurant for lunch, then back to Mama Quena’s for another visit. Our next trip was back to Chalchuapa to visit the Mayan Pyramids. This time the museum was open and we were able to walk the grounds. Several sections of the main pyramid are fenced off, but there are other sections were we could climb and explore. In the 1950’s the government decided to “preserve” the ruins by coating them with a concrete/stucco mixture, so up close, it looks a bit strange. Archaeologists have decided that no more excavation can take place as the pyramid is so large and so deep, the town would have to be destroyed in order to fully examine the ruins.

We’re having the times of our lives.

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About the author

James James is a five time and current Microsoft MVP in Client App Development, a Telerik Insider, a past Director on the INETA North America Board, a husband and dad, and has been developing software since the early days of Laser Discs and HyperCard stacks. As the Founder and President of the Inland Empire .NET User's Group, he has fondly watched it grow from a twice-a-month, early Saturday morning group of five in 2003, to a robust and rambunctious gathering of all types and sizes of .NET developers.

James loves to dig deep into the latest cutting edge technologies - sometimes with spectacular disasters - and spread the word about the latest and greatest bits, getting people excited about developing web sites and applications on the .NET platform, and using the best tools for the job. He tries to blog as often as he can, but usually gets distracted by EF, LINQ, MVC, ASP, SQL, XML, and most other types of acronyms. To keep calm James plays a mean Djembe and tries to practice his violin. You can follow him on twitter at @latringo.

And as usual, the comments, suggestions, writings and rants are my own, and really shouldn't reflect the opinions of my employer. That is, unless it really does.

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