El Salvador, January 2011
From Golfito we day hopped up the Costa Rican Coast, leaving early each morning.  Anchoring by the late afternoon, which would allow us alittle time to go ashore and explore.  If we enjoyed the place we would stay, otherwise, if weather permitted we would leave the next day.  Everyday we were treated by all the beauty nature can offer, humpback whales breeching, hundreds of manta rays leaping out of the water, dolphins riding our bow sprit and turtles warming themselves on the surface.
Humpback whales swimming next to Blue Sky.
Juvenile manta rays leaping out of the water.  This area is their breeding ground and we would see hundreds at a time.
Sir Francis Drake has been to many places around the world, and so has our Drake. SFD did not have the luxury of the internet when he happened to anchor in what is now called Drake's Bay, Costa Rica. 
In all our years of cruising we never tire of seeing dolphins swimming next to the boat.  Different pods of spotted dolphins would play for hours around Blue Sky.  Some sections of the ocean the water was dark green and full of nutrients, and others it was a deep blue. 
The coast of Costa Rica offered many semi-protected anchorages.  A fantastic cruising guide for this area, which you can download off the internet for a small fee, was written by
s/v Sarana. They also have guides on all of Central America.
Along the coastal stretch of Costa Rica we did not encounter any other cruising yachts, until we reached Playa Coco.  This is a semi-safe anchorage from the papagayo winds. These winds form when cold air from the Gulf of Mexico channels through a gap in the Central America Cordilla mountains into the Pacific, they often reach hurricane force.
Phoebe and Drake on the beach at Playa Coco
Phoebe holding up the sun  in Samara.
Local fishing boats at Bahia Ballena.
From Playa Coco we crossed over to Bahia Ballena which is very protected and a good spot to wait for a weather window to head across the dangerous area where the papagayos are their strongest.  Once anchored, three other yachts appeared that were heading south.  A catamaran, was dismasted, after traveling through a section which is notorious for strong papagayo winds.  The weather prediction was for 15 knots, they experienced 50.  The northern section of Costa Rica, into Nicaragua and El Salvador experience these winds.  With that said, we decided to pick a no-wind weather window and make the miles all the way to Bahia del Sol, El Salvador, which is out of the danger zone.  
The 272 nm trip took us two nights.  To enter into Bahia del Sol, you need a rising tide and guide. 
Fortunately our arrival corresponded to the high tide.  Rohilio met us on the outside of the river bar on his jet ski to guide us in.  The bar changes everyday and it is a narrow "S" turning channel.  We had waves breaking on either side of Blue Sky and saw depth of 8 feet.  Our draft is 8 feet, so it was very unnerving being lifted by a wave and just waiting to touch the bottom.  Our guide was a pro and we made it in and tied up to the dock unscathed.
Papusa's on the grill.
After a passage our favorite thing to do is get off the boat and have a meal out.   Once Blue Sky was secure we explored our suroundings.  Bahia del Sol is a Marina and Hotel, so we had access to all the facilites. Which included a swimming pool, beach resort, friendly macaws and three deer.  Walking a couple blocks down the street, avoiding the rush hour traffic of cows off to graze, we found what we were looking for.  A Papusaria, the traditional El Salvadoran dish, a thick hand made ground corn tortilla, stuffed with cheese and pork.  Or what ever you prefer.  Served with cabbage and salsa to stuff inside as well.  The whole meal costa a whopping $5.00. 
Phoebe feeding the tame macaws.
The deer loved to be fed apples.
Phoebe and Drake enjoying the El Salvadoran surf.
The day after our arrival was my birthday so we hired a car and driver, along with our friends Eric and Robyn, for a tour of the country.  The first stop was a sugar cane factory where they processed the cane straight from the field.  First putting it through a grinder to extract the juice, they transferring the liquid into large vats to cook.  Once the sugar is cooked it is poured into two type of molds.  One, below with the men, are large bars, sold as a type of candy, with raisens and nuts.
The other are circular and called dulce de panela. The women to the right wrap the final product in corn husks to sell to the local markets and stores.
To support the workers we bought two of the bars, they were very rich and sweet and a bit like molasses.
Sunset at Playa Coco
Blue Sky anchored at Samara
Blue Sky anchored at Dominicalito
Coatimundi scavanging for food at Punta Leona.
Next stop was the textile weavers of San Sebastian.  The process has not changed much during the past century.  The fabrics are spun, dyed and woven on foot powered looms, made out of wood.  Each foot peddal changes the color of the yarn as it passes through the loom. They make colorful and unique hammocks, blankets and textiles.  The difference here is that most of the weavers are male.
Spinning the yarn into spools.
Spools ready for the loom              The beginning of a blanket
Working on a 200 year old loom
Lidia and Maria de Duran, owners of "Super Textilera Duran".  With tourism down, they were so excited to have us in their store.  Needless to say, we kept them in business another year, buying some of the most beautiful material for a fraction of the cost that we would spend in the US.
A colorful blanket in the making
Eric and Robyn from s/v Scorpido, hold up one of our purchases, a hammock chair.
A three wheeled vehicle used for local transportation.
In AD 600 the Laguna Caldera Volcano erupted and buried a small Mayan settlement, Joya de Ceren, was buried under the ash.  This is the only site that gives clues to how people lived back then, preserving their intricate farming techniques, gardens of flowers and vegetables, storerooms and kitchens.  On on dish you can see fingerprints smeared on the remains of an interrupted meal.  This village was accidentally discovered in 1976, it is believed that the residents fled, as no human remains were found.
The tour group, Eric, Phoebe, Drake, Robyn and Jim.
San Andres ruins which include a step pyramid and large courtyard, were unearthered in 1977.  This site was inhabited by Maya between AD 600-900.  I
The main pyramid may contain the tombs of rulers but has not been excavated yet, and there are another 15 mounds which have yet to be unearthered. This is one of the largest pre-Columbian sites in El Salvador, originally covering more than three kilometres and supporting a population of 12,000 people. Establishing itself as the captial for the settlements in the Zapotita Valley.

The final stop was the Tazumal Maya Ruins,, the mos important and impressive in
El Salvador.  Tazumel, means "pyramid where victims are burned." Archaeologists estimate that the first settlements in the area were around 5000 BC.  Much of this site is still buried under the town and the ruins on display span a period of over 1000 years.  The children enjoyed this site the best as they were allowed to climb up and down the stairs. 

After a full day, we traveled almost across the entire country.  It was a fascinating tour. 
Tazumal Maya Ruins.
We enjoyed having Eric around as he loves to surf.  He would take Phoebe and Drake to the beach everyday and let them ride his board.  Phoebe is becoming quite a proficient surfer, where as Drake is still more comfortable on the boogie board.  The waves were perfect for beginners.
El Salvador was a very welcoming country, walking around we were the only tourists in town. One day we stopped in a barbershop and all got our hair cut for $1.50 each, and she did a great job.  Labor was affordable and the  people are extremely hard workers. Blue Sky had a complete wash and wax and all the stainless polished, the likes of which she hasn't seen since South Africa.
In every country since our departure we visit the post office and purchase stamps for the children.  They are a great souvenir, plus an educational tool.  As each stamp respresents something important to the country, whether it be flora, fauna, historical sites or important people..