Tuesday, June 19, 2007

El Boqueron and the San Salvador Volcano

Another volcano adventure today, no hike though, just a drive up to the crater. It's called El Boqueron which I believe means "giant mouth"...a pretty accurate description I'd say. Not sure I'd have found it on my own so fortunately Viki's dad is a good navigator. This girl was selling I think six or seven avocados on the side of the road for $1. Ah, things are so much cheaper when you cut out the middle man.

On the way up we did pass by a building marked with the letters "MS13" in spray paint which told me that it the structure was gang territory. There were lots of young adult males hanging about, one standing up on a wall almost like a lookout or something. Obviously I wasn't planning to hold up my camera and snap a picture. The gang is a LA gang, but they do now have recruitment locations throughout Central America. Google them.

On the way up, Viki suddenly noticed from the car a little hand grasping onto the rear windshield wiper. I reached back, knocked on the window, and saw a little boy jump off who was trying to hitch a ride to the top. We let him grab onto the side of the car instead which was much safer and before we knew it we found ourselves with a little tour guide named Gavin. Upon reaching the top we were swarmed by kids like Gavin excited to have new visitors to the area. I figure they get at least a couple a day, maybe more on the weekends.

Take that Brad and Angelina! Check out my new adopted family. The kids know how to be hospitable. They'll show you the paths to the vistas and share information about the area. The little girls would even grab pretty flowers off of bushes and give them to the girls in our group, in this case Viki and CK. We followed them up to the crater where I finally realized why they call this place "giant mouth." It was a breathtaking view of a GIGANTIC hole, steep as ever along the sides. It was like something straight out of Star Wars. It's supposed to be an official tourist attraction I think, but the government visitor center at the top was totally abandoned. They say you can hike to the bottom of the crater...a possible adventure for another day.

The kids are super photogenic too, sporting smiles as big as the crater they live on everytime you hold a camera up to them. Part of it I know is the excitement of having temporary vistitors on the mountain; the other part of course is knowing that city slickers like us carry quarters on us. It's fine though...give a quarter to a kid in the States and he'll/she'll be like "That's it??" The kids we met up here were happy, constantly laughing, and enjoying the simplicity of their little world in the mountains and away from the electronically corded jungles of the modern world that tangle up our lives. I envy them in a way.

When our little tour around a portion of the crater was done, we headed back to the car and the kids prepare for their uofficial payday. And obviously you can't give one kid something and another nothing unless you're okay with the saddened look of a chiquito salvadareno's face on your conscience. Some probably hitch back down to a local shop and blow it on candy. Others probably give it to their parents.

I'm finding that El Salvador is a country full of high views. It's probably the greenest and most mountainous country I've ever been to. We caught this view of San Salvador on the way back down from El Boqueron under some extraordinary light conditions feebly captured by this picture. I like to think that even members of the local MS13 gang stop between member initiations and enjoy the views offered by their beautiful country...

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