We visited a town in the steamy mountains called Juayua. Violet learned how to say it. She's three. "Wha-YOU-ah!" she would call from her carseat whenever one of us said it. We all found such great joy in saying it. We probably need to get out more.
Natural springs bubble with cold water in the hot and hilly jungle surrounding the town. The water works downward through the foliage, building into small brooks, then splashes down rocky cliffs into refreshing pools. And by "refreshing," I mean "really cold, like, colder than a Cold One." I don't know how many waterfalls dot Juayua's jungles. Probably a lot. We read about Las Siete Cascadas -- or Seven Waterfalls -- a cluster of falls that require a couple hour's hike and a rappel into a gorge at the end. That sounds fun and everything, just not for six adults and thirteen kids, including a three-year old. I feel like the risk of injury wouldn't necessarily be that high, but the risk of at least one adult yelling at at least one kid would be significant.
Instead we chose Los Chorros de la Calera. It means "Limestone Jets." I think that would be a good band name. A dirt road leads out of town, eventually turning bumpy and gnarly as it drops down the side of a small gorge. Our minivan has already proven quite unable to deal with El Salvador's back roads, so we paid a buck to park in a shady dirt located just before the road heads downhill. My motto is, "Always wimp out if it costs less than five dollars to do so." From the lot, it's a ten minute walk down to the waterfalls on decent trails. For those unwilling or unable to hoof it, you can book a motorized three-wheeled rickshaw-type thing, stuff yourself in the backseat, and guys who hate your safety will drive recklessly -- but cheerfully -- downhill on the awful road, and they will try to (cheerfully) kill people walking on the side of the road.
Los Chorros de la Calera is a pleasant place to pass an hour. Man-made rock walls pool the water cascading in numerous white ribbons across a wide rock face, creating a swimming area deep enough for a 10-20 foot cliff jump. At least two smaller falls with similar, though tinier, walled swimming areas are a bit further down the trail.
We visited during Agostino's, El Salvador's festival week, so the falls were pretty crowded. Nobody seemed to mind though. The kids braved the cold water, ducked under the drumming waterfalls, and climbed the wet, mossy rocks. I contented myself observing and photographing the Salvadoreños enjoying themselves. For some reason I find it infinitely easier to photograph Salvadoreños than I did Saudis. Probably because I felt like Saudis openly loathed me.
A half hour further into the mountains, tucked among leafy coffee plantations, we found a restaurant for a late lunch. There was one waiter in the whole place. He hustled, but it took an hour to get our food. I didn't bring a change of clothes so I waited in my swim trunks and wet Billabong t-shirt I got at Goodwill. The kids played in a grassy, open air horse arena. I watched the clouds blow across the hilltops, first thick and heavy, then threadbare and wispy. It was another little wonder of this little country. And, as a bonus for being one of the ten people bored enough to read my blog, at the bottom of this post is a picture of Savannah inside a really big tree.