In the previous post, I mentioned that I already had a nostalgic feeling for el Zonte--the small beach side fishing town with some of the best waves. Upon looking at the surf report before leaving Los Cobanos, I turned to Christie and said "we need to go back."
The report predicted an ocean swell arriving the following day and peaking over the weekend. And while our plan was to shoot up to the mountains from Los Cobanos, I knew I had to take advantage of the conditions and get some big waves while I had the chance.
We returned to El Zonte with a "we're back!" feeling, and it did really feel like returning home in a way. We got the same room, and settled right back in to the beach lifestyle. The comedor across the street served up a delicious lunch for us, and as we ate I noticed these golden nuggets:
And who was corraling this newborn batch of ducks? Two four year old girls who found them on the beach...I think that to them, this was a chance to play with some real life rubber duckies.
The following morning I went out for a long paddle, and immediately I noticed how different these waves were. Big, fast, powerful hills of water marched past me as I waited for a ride, and when I did catch one, I knew I was in some good surf. The waves had so much more energy, pushing me along with great speed, and before me was a wide glassy surface to carve. I did two sessions that day, with the plan of saving some energy for the swell's peak.
I was a little nervous to go out the following morning, but once I paddled past the surf´s breaking point, those nerves soon vanished. While the swell was certainly larger than the day before, and much more consistent, I felt entirely comfortable in my ability to manage the waves. Perhaps the best part about it--and I still don't understand why--is that I was one of only two surfers in the water. The first wave I took was one of the largest in my humble surfing career. And after steering off the glassy face I thought, "I could ride these all day." I worked up the courage to paddle into some of the larger sets, and I can safely say it was the best surf session of my life.
My final wave was particularly great, crashing above my head as I rode with glee. Knowing it would be my last of the session, I decided to take it all the way to the beach... but this wave had other plans for me. It was reaching it's final pitch, and I shot down with speed, but looking behind me I saw a wall of water crashing in...I took a deep breath. Wham! The wave smacked me to the ocean floor with incredible force and all went black, my body a writhing rag doll thrown in the washing machine. In time the white wash released me from this short torment, and luckily I emerged unhurt with my board in one piece. I think it was the ocean's way of letting me know just exactly who's boss.
Now that my surfing fix was satisfied, it was time to head to the mountains for some new flavor. Christie and I hopped in the rental car, whipping along the Carretera Latoral once again, which hugs the western coast with sharp turns and steep climbs. Passing through the industrial town of Sonsonate, we followed signs for the famed "Ruta de las Flores"--a winding camino of mountain vistas, lined with blooming wildflowers, that ascends to a community of small, artisan mountain villages.
We made our home in the wonderful little town of Jayuya, which is nestled between--count em--11 volcanoes. We were lucky to arrive on the weekend, when the cobbled streets become overrun with vendors selling all sorts of goods--jewelry, wood crafts, clothing, fruits, pastries, fried foods...I even got to put a fat 10 ft yellow snake on my shoulders for the price of $1.
That night we ate at a recommended restaurant called "R&R." Christie and I planned on it being a romantic splurge, but looking at the menu we were surprised to find how cheap it was. A wonderful, candle lit, romantic setting, the restaurant had every detail attended to. And when the food arrived, we realized this was going to be dining of a whole different magnitude...the "papas" that came with our meal, which we expected to be some potatoes on the side, were incredible...perfectly crisped thin slices of potato, served steaming from elegant, small wooden bowls, smothered in a melting delicious cheese. And for the utensil? A small, but wide metal pitchfork with balled ends, that made the perfect to tool to stab or scoop up all the deliciousness. We practically licked the bowls clean.
And the entres were no less impressive. I ordered a dish said to be their specialty--a medium rare steak, cooked in a coffee sauce, with a side of tortilla, rice and chimichurri. It was one of the best, and most unique, meals I've eve had. And for Christie, she did her best with an astounding portion of delicious vegetarian lasagna. From the incredible tastes and outstanding presentation of our meal, you could tell that the cook--a wide Salvadorian native who personally came out with a big smile to check in with us during our meal--was utterly passionate about his cooking. And the total bill? $27, and that included a bottle of Chilean wine. Needless to say, we came back the next night, and it was just as outstandng.
While Juayua had some wonderful colonial charm, we wanted to explore other parts of the mountain region--specifically a town that bordered a reserve called "el impossible" national park. We hopped back into our black Kia to wind the mountain roads again...this time with our sights on the tiny town of Tacuba.
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