|Enjoying some post cashew pool time in El Salvador.|
El Salvador doesn't have a ton of cruising grounds, mainly just Bahia del Sol and Jiquilisco Bay, both of which have a sand bar you have to cross to enter the estuary. Our crossing was easy and kind of thrilling. We waited for the pilot at high slack tide and didn't even have to surf in because the swell wasn't that high. It looked way more intimidating than it actually was.
The pilot was free, and we pulled into Bahia del Sol Marina to check in to the country. The check in process was beyond easy. They have Immigration and port officials on staff, and we paid $50 for two visas and a 30-day cruising permit. (They hit you leaving the country though. Forty dollars for a zarpe. Yikes!) For $14 a week, you get access to all the marina facilities, including laundry, showers, the dinghy dock, the pool, wi-fi and 30% off at the bar and restaurant. We've considered moving in. Plus, this guy lives in a tree on the premises.
With his buddy.
We spent one night in the marina and then anchored out. When we dropped the anchor, it automatically dug in and swung the boat around, making this the first place I feel like we could leave the boat on the hook without worrying too much. And then there are a million mangrove islands to explore, thatched roof restaurants on stilts serving fried fish and little towns along the way.
We got here during the El Salvador Cruisers Rally, and Bill and Jean, two of the rallly's organizers, took great care of us and the other new cruisers. They helped us check in, answered all our questions, talked us through the bar entrance, invited us to all the rally events and just generally made us all feel welcome. And we aren't even part of the rally!
Overall, the cruisers here have been just as friendly as the locals perhaps because it's such a small and transitory group of people. Whatever the case, we will be sad to leave.