After a one night stay in non descript La Palma I took a bus south to the road junction at Aguilares and boarded another bus, headed east, for Suchitoto.
The bus was standing room only when, not too long into the journey, we approached a school with about 30 kids stood outside. Nievely I thought they were waiting for another bus. How wrong I was. Somehow these 30 plus kids managed to find space on our bus!
Seemingly lifted from a magical realist novel, Suchitoto has held firm and prospered against the weight of history just as its weekend arts fest turns the quintessential town square into one giant production of guanaco pride. None of this is new, however; when indigo ruled the marketplace and the beautiful Spanish church was packed daily, Suchitoto was the country’s unabashed cultural capital. It retains its title with ease. For those not fussed by the gallery and bar scene much of it not open during the week there are countless hikes to waterfalls, caves and beautiful Lago Suchitlán that begin and end just meters from town. Suchitoto is also a bird migration zone with over 200 species. Thousands of hawks and falcons fill the skies as the seasons change, and birds of all sorts nest in the relative safety of the lake islands.
The reservoir (also known as lake Suchitlán Cerrón Grande) is the largest lake in El Salvador. Formed between 1973 and 1976 with the construction of a Hydroelectric Plant. It’s estimated that about 15,000 acres of land was flooded, which obviously caused massive discontent among those who occupied it.
I stayed at a lovely little hostel in Suchitoto called Hostal Los Sánchez, owned by two carasmatic brothers who have lived in Suchitoto all their lives. In an evening they used to sit outside the hostel drinking a beer and chatting to anyone that passed. I have a feeling that they probably knew everybody in town.
3-random tourists and I pooled our resources and hired a small boat that took us on a 1 1/2-hour tour of some the lake islands.
I loved Suchitoto.
Next stage: Santa Ana and the volcano hike.
Next stage: Santa Ana.