Day 08: The Minister
Saturday 12 November 2022

It is time to put our backpacks on our shoulders once again and descend from the slopes of the volcano. We certainly can’t let the cloud floor on which we have lived and worked these past few days get us lazy. We still have so much to see and tell in El Salvador and four more countries all to explore ahead of us. 

Despite everything, we have a smile on our faces. Our final destination today is the town of Santa Ana, our absolute favorite. It was our base camp for a month last year, when after exhausting our 45 Bitcoin only days, we decided not to return to Italy right away but to stop here to live and work for some time. So we know it well, we have many friends and landmarks living there and we are really happy to come back.

We will, however, make an intermediate stop. We decided to go to the opening of the cafeteria overlooking Lake Coatepeque, the one we told you about in the last episode of this diary. In fact, we have been told that a large group of institutional representatives will be present at the event, there will even be the Minister of Tourism, Morena Valdez. It would be great to talk to her. We would really have many things to ask her.

We arrive at the location and the parking lot is packed with cars. The press conference has already started and there is a large group of spectators. We notice a few friendly faces here and there. Bitcoiners we met last year and entrepreneurs from the coffee world, who are very active in this area of the country, which is the epicenter of local production of the precious beans.

The atmosphere is festive and there is a lot of enthusiasm in the air.

Once the press conference is over, the coffee tastings, welcome cocktails, and trays of canapés begin. We also notice that there are tables set very elegantly. Apparently there will also be lunch provided. Wonderful. We won’t be shy and take advantage of it, given the recent deepening of Bitcoin we are looking at weeks on bread and water. Better stock up.

As easily expected, the press is there and ample time is left for the customary photos and interviews. The Minister is surrounded by a large huddle of journalists when she sees us, smiles and comes towards us. She knows us. She remembers of us because she followed our trip last year. She says she spotted us when President Bukele shared one of our contents and also saw our recent tweet denouncing the many bugs in the Chivo wallet. He welcomes us back to El Salvador and asks what particularly struck us about the country. We respond enthusiastically, it is beautiful here and we really believe that tourism has great potential. Inevitably the conversation veers to Bitcoin. The minister says she is excited about the many bitcoiners who are visiting the country. It is the perfect assist. Very diplomatically, we tell her that if her ministry really aims to attract more and more of them, we need to run for cover and fix the state wallet, which has erratic behavior, to say the least.

She looks at us, laughs, and compliments our tact in her presence. As if to imply that she is fully aware of the ongoing IT disaster. She assures us that there is a very strict road map and that the government is investing heavily in developers and infrastructure. Chivo will work properly in a reasonable time.

It is always strange for me to describe that feeling that leaves you talking to politicians. I have experience, as is well known, in the field. That sense of skepticism about their every word.

We’ll see.

We spend a nice afternoon with a nice group of old friends. We make plans for the near future. They point out lots of events and things to see. It’s going to be an interesting month.

Before returning to the car we stop the Minister again and ask her to put in a good word with Buki for a ten-minute interview. She laughs and says she will do what she can but that he is understandably a very busy man.

Come on Morena, work your magic.

The road descends quickly into the valley as the last lights of evening redden the horizon.

Santa Ana here we come.