Barillas Marina and Usulutan

We spent nine days and nights at the Barillas Marina in El Salvador, after arriving on Tuesday afternoon. There are quite a few amenities included with the mooring fees. There is a very nice swimming pool, which was just the thing to take the heat off during the afternoons. Or you could relax under the Palapas in the shade with your laptop, or grab one of the Hammocks to take a nap, at least til the bugs came out every early evening.

There are showers and bathrooms, as well as a fuel dock, although the prices are quite high after what we were used to in Mexico. $4.50 a gallon for diesel, as opposed to the $2.50 or so we were paying in Mexico! Also, the little Tienda (store) was somewhat expensive; like $1.00 for a coke and $9.00 for a can of bug spray, so we put off any serious provisioning until we could get into town.

Apart from dealing with boat issues, including taking the aforementioned macerator out and cleaning it, after which it seemed to work ok, mucking around with the electrical system when our inverter/charger appeared to have stopped working, replacing the obliterated impellor on the genset cooling system, and tying a tarp sun-n-rain shade over the foredeck, we spent the first few days at the marina just hanging around the pool. Everyone would gather there at about 2:00 p.m., to beat the heat in the shade. Then, around 4:00, everyone would move over to the open air Bar, where they have large fans that help keep the mosquitos and no-see-ums at bay. We had dinner one night at the restaurant; it was nice, but fairly expensive, so we didn't repeat the extravagance, but grilled on the boat bbq.

Barillas Marina

The mooring fees also include a free shuttle, twice a week, into the nearby rural town of Usulutan. So on Friday, we took it into town and went to the Mercado area, where we mostly wandered around in the hot, humid, and very busy streets. I did stop and purchase a nice sturdy backpack for $15.00, and lots of DVDs, but as far as real groceries, we actually got most of our provisions at the main supermarket Don Juan, which was thankfully air conditioned. While we were waiting for the shuttle to take us back to the Marina, we had some Salvadoran beer at a Chinese restaurant right across the street from the supermarket.

Market at Usulutan

We had heard about this tribe of Spider Monkeys that would come down out of the trees when called, and so on Sunday we availed ourselves of the Marina-provided guide, Senor Castro, who led us on the short 1/2 mile walk thru the jungle to the homestead where the monkeys could be located.

When we got there, the children came out of the house and started calling the monkeys; "Pancho, Pancho!" they shouted loudly into the jungle. Sure enough, a few minutes later, there was rustling in the high tree tops as the monkeys began swinging from branch to branch making their way towards us.

We had bought some Bananas on our trip to Usulutan, to feed them, but in the heat, after only two days, they were, how would you say, kind of ripe, so I just set them on the ground to start with. Fortunately, Sr. Castro's friend came up with a bunch of fresh ones, and when he held one up, one of the monkeys swung down from the trees and grabbed it from his hand.

Soon there were over a dozen monkeys in all the trees around us. They did not seem nervous at all, and at one point they even let us touch them (or vice-versa, touched us) as we fed them bananas. When the larger ones had fed, the smaller ones came down and were even willing to take some of the over ripe bananas we had brought with us.

It was very interesting watching both the teeny babies and alert adults, so we spent about 45 minutes just messing around with the monkeys, until it was time to take the short walk back to the marina.

Going to see the Monkeys

There are all kinds of interesting natural aspects to the environment here in El Salvador. For instance, just about every day we would startle and be startled by these really interesting lizards. About 8 inches tall, they look like little T-Rex's as they scurry about. We got to learn what a Cashew Nut looks like, and found out that they are associated with a smallish orange fruit that is quite tasty when ripe. We also saw tons of Cacao Plants, from which chocolate is made. When you scratch the fruit with your finger, you get a distinct cocoa butter smell as a reward.

And all around, of course, were the sugar cane plantations. Apparently they are harvested around November, so we were seeing them in their nascent stages. Many times we would see and smell the clouds of smoke as they burned the previous year's fields to return the minerals to the soil before planting this year's crop.

Nature Shots

As I said, we spent a lot of time just hanging around the pool area chatting with the other cruisers who were in Barillas at the same time. This included George, Melinda, and Joshua from SOUTHERN BELLE, Dave and Mary from JENNY, Tahsin and Rengin from DELFIN SOLO, Jim and Linda on RENAISSANCE, and Noel and Ashley and their three boys on KETCHIN UP, all of whom we had met before coming to Barillas.

New friends we made at Barillas, included Bruce and Marianne from GALLIVANT, and 3-year Barillas Residents, Arthur and Susan from the trimaran JULUKA, who was also in the process of refurbishing a catamaran that someone had grounded on the bar outside of Barillas.

A couple of times I took my guitar into shore and strummed tunes. On Monday night George joined me and we had a couple of nice musical jams, first out by the pool and palapas, and then later in the bar, where George did some great Beatles and Jerry Jeff Walker tunes.

All in all we had a great time in quiet, nature-y Barillas.

Cruising Friends

On Monday morning, at high tide, we took RHAPSODY over to the fuel dock, where Bruce helped us tie up, surprisingly with absolutely no problems. We filled Rhapsody up with diesel, a whopping 110 gallons worth, in preparation for our departure.

As I'm writing this on Wednesday morning, April 16th, we have started the check out procedure. We took our papers into the office this morning. We'll get our new Zarpe and pay our final bill this afternoon. Then, we'll be leaving here tommorow, about 1:00 p.m., for the 16 hour, 80 nm trip down to Puesta Del Sol, Nicaragua.

Cruising Boats