Day 26: It’s Christmas
26 dicembre 2021

Today we lazed around. We can say that without shame. The last few weeks have been a roller coaster. Always on the move, always backpacking, always with our antennae upright, ready to intercept every little nuance so we can tell the story. We needed a day off. And we took it all.

We took advantage of our beautiful pirate village, the clear waters of Lake Coatapeque, and the sunshine of the tropics, which blessed us with a constant temperature of thirty-five degrees. A luxury not everyone can afford. We are aware of this and grateful.

Our lakeside stilt hostel was practically deserted yesterday. Besides us there were just a handful of guests. Here in El Salvador, December 24 is spent at home, with family. It’s on the 25th that we go out and celebrate. Intensely. And in fact, today we wake up in a completely different atmosphere. From the early hours of the morning we watch our surroundings gradually fill up with families and groups of friends. The lake is conveniently located less than an hour’s drive from both San Salvador and Santa Ana and its beauty attracts many inhabitants of the two cities, who choose it as a destination to spend pleasant days out. The one where we are is not only a hotel, but it is also an excellent restaurant and many people come just to eat and to spend carefree hours on the shores of the lake. Around noon the hotel is full of people. The atmosphere is festive. It feels good.

We mind our own business. We enjoy a fish lunch in the highest point of the structure, the so-called mirador, a table and two deckchairs with an incredible view of the crater and its waters. We let ourselves be lulled by the comfortable hammocks and chat for hours. We discuss our next destinations and what we have seen and experienced so far. After almost four weeks, we can make some initial assessments.

As we happily go about our chores, out of the corner of our eye, we notice them. Always. In every moment.

The looks, curious. The smiles. The questions from the groups. We are once again the only foreigners here. It is evident from everything. From our clothes. From the color of our skin. From the language we speak. And in fact we don’t have to wait long before, uninhibited by the beers, the bravest ones begin to approach us, with the most unlikely excuses, to ask us who we are and where we come from. 

What strikes us are the smiles of amazement when we reply that we have been traveling all over El Salvador for weeks, that we will be doing so for some time to come, that we are having a great time, that we find it beautiful and that we have met helpful and kind people. At that point, everyone gets proud and glows with happiness. And they hasten to tell us that Salvadorans are like that. A people with a big heart, with a strong sense of hospitality and family. That we are welcome and that the local culture values diversity. That they are open and willing to the stranger, even if few are seen here. They offer us hospitality, ask us for contact information on social media, phone numbers. They rush to invite us to visit their hometowns, to try all sorts of local food and specialties. 

To be honest, in some moments we would just like to be left alone, but we are flattered and honored by all this positivity towards us. We realize, however, that there is also a deeper reason for their attitude, which cannot be overlooked. 

How bad it must be for an entire nation, populated for the vast majority by decent people, honest workers, fathers of families and human beings with noble values, to be constantly associated with stories of crime, degradation, violence. To be known internationally for years only and exclusively as the most violent country in the world. As a place to stay away from. As a land without hope, segregated by clashes between criminal gangs that, although capable of unspeakable cruelty, still statistically represent a small minority of the people of El Salvador. What an injustice.

There is a sense of revenge behind all that attention and smiles. The happiness of having met two foreigners who knew how to go beyond the name of their country and come here. To know it. To live it. The joy of hearing us say that we have found in this land all the beauty that really exists. The genuineness of its people. The fairy-tale landscapes. The culture, the traditions. And the hope that we may finally be just the vanguard of a new wave of visitors and tourists, that many others, like us, may find the stimulus to come and fill the streets of these cities, giving back to these people the dignity and respect they deserve.

If bitcoin could even manage to do this for El Salvador, it would make sense. Therefore, we say this to you, bitcoiners everywhere. Don’t just read from home what is happening here. Come here. Come to El Salvador.