Saturday, February 26, 2022

El Salvador: Hotel Panic

El Salvador Day 1: Strong Start with Grandma Rice Pupusas
El Salvador Day 2: Típicos
El Salvador Day 3: Quesadilla and the Death of Enlightenment
El Salvador Day 4: (Part1) Izalco Bound
El Salvador Day 4: (Part 2) Pre-Colombian Delights
El Salvador Bits & Pieces
El Salvador/Tokyo Connection

I need to check out of the hotel in 15 minutes, but have just spilled an entire bottle of mineral water in the worst possible sector of my bed.

The maid, a kind soul, has surely witnessed atrocities beyond imagining. This is nothing. But I aim to police the happiness level in my corner of the universe, and would prefer not to be the guy who makes this "one of those days” for the nice woman.

My first thought, being me, is to approach her and tell her the soaked bed is JUST WATER, PROMISE. But, really, isn’t that exactly what an incontinent would say? Like an alcoholic insisting that’s merely coffee he's sipping?

So I use every towel in the joint to wipe and scrub and blot through layer after innumerable hotel bedding layer, each increasingly unpleasant. And I turn up the air conditioner, hoping to wick moisture into the chilly dry air. None of it helps. These are all "weak tea" (sorry for the imagery) solutions. There can be no cheap coverups. I have created what any observer would describe as a toxic waste site.

Finally, eureka. I reclaim the water bottle, shake out remaining drops, and lay it down horizontally right in the center of the wet spot.

There’s always a solution, and it’s usually simpler than you’d think.

You're welcome.

Before we wrap up El Salvador, I'll share my Google Maps list. The notes are mostly pre-visit; my reporting here supersedes. But there are gems I didn't get to. Perhaps you'll do better than I did.

Finally, here is a homely little photo I excluded from my Day 1 report on Pupuseria Chayito in Olocuilta. It's my pupusa plate after the pupusas. Just curtido and red sauce and ubiquitous wax paper.

It's obvious why I declined to include it. But after fully considering a trip where I repeatedly found myself knocked unconscious and left babbling by the things I ate - and spent an unknown amount of time drifting around Izalco, struggling to make sense of, well, anything (there were no drugs and very little alcohol, for those wondering) - I'm thinking this might have captured more than I initially realized. It's not correct, but it's expressive. It's not anything, but it sure isn't nothing. And those very dialectics defined my experience down there. 

It also represents my lingering sadness over no more pupusas.

Thank you, El Salvador, and the many people (some reading along) who helped guide me!

Lagniappe: I struggled, in my "El Salvador/Tokyo Connection" installment, to define the Spanish term "ganas". And a Sanskrit word just sprang into my mind: "bhakti". “Bhakti” is a high and holy thing in Indian religion, while "ganas" is no such thing in Catholic-dominated Spanish-speaking countries, where "urges" of any sort are looked at askance. But even the most conservative priest would respect the notion of spiritual fervor, and I'd posit that all fervor is spiritual in origin (if not always in its ultimate expression).

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