Day 19: Off radars.
19 dicembre 2021

We have basic needs to be met in Bitcoin today and we get up determined to do it. Our car needs gas. Detail that in the rush to rent it we completely overlooked. If we were not able to find it it would be really ridiculous and we get behind the wheel ready for the usual pilgrimage. We will have to stop at every gas station within miles in the hope of finding one that accepts bitcoins.

We stop at the first gas station, it’s quite big and seems promising. We pull over, ask the gas station attendant and he says yes with an almost amazed face. Like: where do you think you are? We found out from talking to him that all gas stations accept them from day one. Perfect. It is at that point that we illuminate ourselves.

During our mission in El Salvador, the absolute hardest item for us to find was cigarettes. We have been without for days. In reality they would always be available in supermarkets, here they mainly sell them there, it’s just a pity that Chivo’s POS keep eating our Lightning transactions and therefore they are not an option for us. So we confidently enter the distributor bar, completely similar to the ones at home. We look around and there they are. Nicotine withdrawal almost clouds our vision. We buy three packs. The day has begun in triumphant fashion.

We plan to head to the far north of the country, in the Morazán region, along the border with Honduras. Interesting things have happened in those parts and we will tell you about them in the coming days. After refueling, we hit the road. We still haven’t found a hotel where we can sleep for the night, but it’s clear that Satoshi’s spirit is smiling down on us today. We have the courage. We’re sure to find one along the way. Calling directly from the moving car.

Nothing could be more wrong.

After more than two hours we have collected an endless string of no. Now we realize that we are really going off the radars. Visiting the most remote and least connected parts of the country. We can’t expect to have it easy. And we won’t.

When we finally find a hotel willing to let us pay in BTC we confirm it right away. It exceeds our budget a little bit but we can’t be picky. We have to make a virtue of necessity.

We stop for lunch in the small town of Alegria. The name inspired us. And we were right. It is a delightful succession of little houses, all colorful. The central square hosts a little market. We discover that it is actually a rather touristy place. It’s really picturesque. We are hungry and try, without much conviction, to ask in a folk bar. Those dive bars that we like so much. Instead we get lucky. Not only does the owner accept Bitcoin, but after serving us he sits down with us and starts talking to us.

Not only is he accepting bitcoins in his clubhouse, but he confides in us that he is even a miner! Together with his cousin, they bought some video cards, configured them and started mining Ether. It’s the first time we’ve heard of an altcoin from a Salvadoran and it makes quite an impression. What an absurd place we find ourselves in. Full of contradictions. 

He tells us that with a few cards he was able to make a profit of as much as three hundred dollars. This is the average salary, and it’s not bad at all. Strengthened by this result, the two have convinced other friends to form a kind of buying group to boost their domestic mini farm. Today they can earn up to two thousand dollars a month. They stopped their expansion project, however. Hardware is now too expensive and none is readily available. 

We are amazed to find in such an isolated place a real geek. With the same problems as those at home. Technology really does have the power to bring us all closer together, regardless of the color of our skin or the language we speak. 

We leave Alegria behind and begin our ascent towards the mountainous massifs of the north. The roads here are very bumpy and with every pothole we fear for the already tested suspension of our Bitcoin Car. The cities here are incredible. From the movies. Clusters of dusty shacks.The roads are lined with men with big ranchero hats and big knives tied to their belts. Life here is hard. You can read it on the skin of people’s faces.

We arrive at the hotel. A crazy place. A collection of cute bungalows scattered in the vegetation. Bitcoin is at home here. We pay for our room and dinner too. Our bedroom is crazy. A kind of bizarre open space with a cylindrical capsule that houses the bed. Never seen anything like it. A claustrophobic’s paradise. 

In the evening, pounding music comes out of the large room of the restaurant. There is the big birthday party of a girl, a fifteenth. Fancy clothes, sumptuous cars, giant cake. The privileged come all the way up here. There was no doubt about it.

Time to retire to the room with the strange bed-capsule. The one in which we will never sleep. Because Laura, having gone to bed first, immediately found herself face to face with a large scorpion in the sheets. We had to kill it, but now we have no trust left. We pulled out the mattress and are sleeping on the floor. I wonder if this will turn out to be a good idea.

See you tomorrow.