The map that saved our lives!

When Neal asked us to come to his and Jude’s wedding, I wasn’t sure that an excursion to another country would fit within the things we were going to be able to do this year. However, after much deliberating, Jess and I decided to do it. So we budgeted out the next few months and booked the trip. The events that followed were something I will never forget. ūüôā

The morning of the trip sprang on us faster than we thought but we were ready. Chase was dropped off with his dad and we hit up the airport. We had buddy passes so we were on stand-by. No worries, we were about 5 hours early to the airport. It was freezing cold at the airport as well as on the plane. Being in first class certainly helped, but it was still chilly. The notion of anything cold soon evaporated. From what I remember it was about TWO THOUSAND DEGREES in El Salvador when we got there. The humidity was off the charts and it was a new kind of heat. Something the likes of Georgia just doesn’t have. No worries. This was a tropical adventure.

Our car "Pedro"

Having never been out of the country, Jess and I were ill prepared for the lack of U.S. Citizens and anyone that spoke english. We managed to round up our luggage and get to the rental car place. I had enough sense to pre-book us a car so we were quick to actually get in the car and get on the road. Despite not being able to speak the native¬†tongue¬†we were able to communicate as needed. The car they gave us was this 1992 Nissan Sentra that had seen better days. I’m not sure if they realized a) who was going to be driving this car and b) what country they were in. The roads were rough at best. Never-the-less, we made the best of it, and Jess, me, and “Pedro” (that’s the name we dubbed our car) were on our way.

It took about 30 mins to figure out where we were exactly, but once we got going it was an awesome drive. That is until we made it to the river that we had to drive through.¬†Apparently, the roads in El Salvador aren’t their highest priority and a recent storm had washed away one of the bridges. Thankfully, the local children were gracious enough to navigate us down a dirt path through the actual river (about 12″ deep) to the other side. I will forever be¬†grateful¬†to the little children of El Salvador.

The rest of the ride was pretty straight forward. It was about 2 hours driving through¬†gorgeous¬†country side and cliffs overlooking the ocean. You could see mountains way off in the distance that dwarf anything I’ve seen before. The camera was all a flurry. With no music to keep us company, we resorted to talking to each other. It’s a foreign concept that seems be long gone from some relationships, but not this one. We talked about the cows and people on bikes. About how the people there seem to have a simple life. How no one seems to¬†harbor¬†any sort of ill intentions or desire to harm or wrong us. People were just nice there. The country was “untouched” as Jess put it. With out the distraction of a radio or technology or Facebooks and Twitters we really got to reconnect. That ride was something I will always remember.

Around 3pm El Salv. time we rolled up on the hotel. It was a stunning place and we figured surely, there would be other gringos there and someone to speak our language. Again, we were mistaken. All the hotel staff and guests and armed guards were either from El Salvador or from El Salvador. This didn’t stop Jess and I though, we were going to make the best of it. It took us a while to figure out what was going on, but we soon realized that at 3 they start checking people in. We were all (like 200 people) into a big conference room where we were assigned a number. This tiny little card with “88” was all we were given. Up on stage there was a guy that sounded like a cross between a Spanish auctioneer and a monster truck announcer was going to town. We saw people check their cards, then head up to one of five booths. We deduced that they were calling out the numbers. Jess knew enough Spanish to know that “88” was “ochenta y ocho”. So there we sat, listening for the those 2 words. Eventually, our number was called and we worked our way through what the host lady was saying at the booth. We got our key and a map of the hotel and headed to our room. The room was very nice. It was a million degrees outside, but inside, it was nice and cool.

The end of day one

After some unpacking and re-gaining of our bearings we¬†donned¬†our bathing suits, some towels and hit the pool. The resort was all inclusive, so the drinks were free. However they were served in the worlds smallest cups. Jess and I fixed that problem with a trip to the gift shop. We got our huge coffee mugs and were set for the rest of the trip. The rest of the afternoon was spent just walking around the resort, making sure we knew where everything was (bars,¬†restaurants, spa, etc). Dinner was at Pastafari (a fusion of¬†Italian¬†and¬†Jamaican¬†food… still not sure that’s a successful combo). We wanted to hit up the shows or “discotech”, but sadly we were exhausted and decided to call it an early night. We had survived our first day in a foreign country where only about 1% of the people spoke our language. We had driven a tiny little car literally “over the river and through the woods” through streets lined with cows, old ladies on bikes, people selling shoes, DVDs, mangos, and children. It was an adventure. It was¬†unforgettable, and it was only the beginning.

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