Ok, when I aid that El Salvador was a nice quiet place with friendly people, I was being a bit preemptive. Metapan, apparently, is not indicative of the rest of the country. I feel like I have stepped back into the old west! It feels like everyone here has a flipping gun! Guys literally walk around with a pistol on their hip, its crazy. In Mexico and a lot of Central American Countries I have seen armed guards outside of banks, etc. But in El Salvador, it seems like nearly every shop has an armed guard. The gas station had two! One guy had a machine gun, the other an automatic shotgun. Wow. I wouldn´t be surprised if a hot dog stand here had a machine gun nest next to it manned by grandpa with grandma on the look out for bandits.
Just seeing people walk around armed is a trip. I am in the second largest city in the country and it is pretty rough here. First of all, it is very run down, and the pollution is terrible. You can literally see the clouds of black smog hanging in the streets. Nearly every store has huge iron bars up as well. It feels like a prison in a lot of ways. However, the most unnerving thing is the constant gunshots you hear. Every few hours I here 4 or 5 gunshots around the city. A little surreal to say the least. I want some of the hard line pro gun activists in America to come here and see what a heavily armed populace results in. It feels like everyone here is under siege.
But, in all fairness, I must also add that this country seems to be very poor. The people live in very run down buildings and don´t seem to have much. I actually saw one thing that really angered me. As I was riding into Santa Ana, I passed an unplanned land fill. Litter is EVERYWHERE in most Latin American countries I have been to so far, with the road sides covered in trash, but here it is really bad. There were mountains of trash and what really got my blood boiling was the fact that there were families LIVING in the land fills. Literally, they had a shack built into the side of a trash mountain. Mom , Dad, kids, Grandparents, living in and among piles of stinking, rotting garbage.
I was angry at a government that would allow this, an economy so terrible that this would be necessary and mostly, at the people that would DO this. That may sound unfair, but I do not care how destitute you may be, there is no excuse for raising a family in filth. I saw babies crawling around in the pools of garbage water while Dad sat in his hammock, seeming to care not at all.
I know I should not judge, but I can not help it. No matter what, if I had a family, I would do whatever it took to get them out of such a situation. Period. It is one thing for an individual to make that choice for themselves, but to drag your family into it with you is unacceptable.
At any rate, I know things are tough for people here and that it is easy for me to make sweeping statements when I don´t have all of the facts, but it just really angered me to see that.
Lastly, on a very strangely positive note, I have to say the people are nice, despite being armed to the teeth. Even the drug dealers. This is a weird one. So I pulled into Santa Ana, and as I said, it is a pretty rough city, and I got lost as the streets are very confusing. They are numbered but there are two or three of each street. For example, three 1st streets, two 2nd streets and another two 1st avenues. It makes for a confusing ride. So I pull over to get my bearings and the locals see me looking at my map, and a few come over to help. The one guy that speaks English is telling me where to go when a junky walks up to him and he sells him a big bag of cocaine (I think that is what it was) without even stopping giving me directions. That was weird. If it were not for the fact that I was dog tired with huge saddle soars on my rear end, I would have left today. Tomorrow though, I am riding hard for the border. It should take me two days to get to Honduras.
So all my love to everyone, until next time!