Continuing on the much requested topic of places to visit in El Salvador, I want to point out a beach that has some different features than others we have seen here.
Playa El Flor Is A Very Interesting Beach.
The beach is a very shallow slope, It feels as though you could just keep walking and walking out into the ocean forever before the water has much depth, but the ground is a network of rocky mounds and unexpected holes, so visitors should wear water shoes, and step carefully. El Flor is unlike most of the other El Salvador beaches.
That the landscape is rocky and uneven sounds unpleasant. Looking out at the moonscape I was initially not all that interested in going out. But I had no idea about the advantages of these sink holes and jutting rocks!
First of all, if you take seawater and trap it for a few minutes, in El Salvador beaches what you end up with is:
A Saltwater Spa.
As we walked out, our friends started saying hello to these roundish rows of rocks. Oh wait! these were the neighbors heads. Plenty of lucky locals were spending the afternoon sitting in the warm and soothing tide pools. The sandy bottom is smooth and soft, and there is really only enough vegetation clinging to the rocks to remind you that you are not actually in a heated pool. The waves at low tide are pretty gentle and basically just push you around a little bit. Too awesome!
I highly recommend a trip to El Flor especially at low tide to experience the amazing naturally occurring saltwater spas that are formed by the rocky tide-pools. You could easily lounge for hours in them.
Someone told me that another great activity at El Flor is to come out at high tide, when the rocks are all submerged, and either snorkel or scuba dive. Though we didn’t happen to encounter fish on our trek through the pools, the beach is home to tropical fish, which inhabit the rocky network when the tide is high. Other regional sports include fishing from the beach, and believe it or not surfing at high tide. I would not do it, but I understand people do, and very few of them lose limbs. We saw many people fishing both for pleasure and for livelihood.
The approach to the beach is a fairly short trek on dirt roads through rural communities. I have grown accustomed to the dirt roads here being strung with jewels. In fact I have grown to like it. They look nothing like the beach approaches we are used to from California. (somehow much cooler)
El Flor is yet another minimally developed beach. I am not all that interested in development but what I wish I saw more of (I do say saw…because I may just not be seeing it) is public access points. When I invite friends here to go to the beach, I actually do not know how I will get them there, to enjoy it at length in a comfortable way, without imposing on landowning friends, which I am loath to do. I saw no way to get to the beach that did not involve walking through someone’s yard.
Public Beach Access Is NOT The Same Here
I’m starting to think that next time I feel like going to the beach and haven’t received an invitation, I’m just going to park somewhere and walk through whatever lot doesn’t have a locked gate. Chances are the homeowner isn’t there, and the caretakers might just be fishing.
I remember reading an excellent book, the ideas of which I did not completely embrace, but which I still regarded as both brilliant and significant. It addressed the idea of “the commons”, or areas shared in common, such as market squares (sometimes called commons). The idea of “commons” is expanded from common squares, to other shared resources that cannot really be “owned” in a natural feeling way. Water, air, earth, some argue oil should be in this category until pumped and processed, many believe the DNA for living things can not be owned (think Monsanto if you want to sprain your mind and be in a foul mood all day).
Some say natural treasures like beaches and lakes should be public.
Hold on, I do have a point.
The good old U.S.A is the champion of Capitalism, Self-ism and Private Ownership. The U.S.A. says “Hack down that tree and make a buck out of it if you’ve got an axe and strong arms!” But yet the U.S.A. treats most beaches and other natural treasures as commonly owned, at least emotionally. From what I have observed, El Salvador, a country with a leftist government (think Communist, as in Commune which sounds like Commons, as in not Privates) and many of the areas my capitalist instincts regard as common to everyone in the country, SEEM to be at minimum difficult for the public to access. Whether they are technically public or private I do not know. Whether they are technically anything does not matter IF technically you cannot access a beach or lake or park, in a manner most people would be comfortable enough to use.
I’m not mad, I’m just being dramatic to point out the irony. Unrestrained access can damage the resource, and without proper planning and a level of properly monitored and funded maintenance some locations could be overrun and loose their beauty. American style treatment of points of interest has it’s own problems.
I have to admit, that most of what I love about El Salvador is directly connected to the same things I seem to complain about.
When I talk about limited access there is an upside.
- First of all, you CAN get there, it’s just isn’t as easy or obvious. I’m just being a brat.
- Second it is worth the extra effort in part because it takes extra effort.
- Third, I am convinced that without funded maintenance, controls, and planning things can easily be ruined.
I have rambled enough. How do you think the beautiful places in El Salvador should be handled, or should they be handled at all? Discuss.