Sunday, April 15, 2012

Alegria Means Happiness in Spanish

I concluded our previous episode of the 8 chicken buses as I arrived in Alegría, El Salvador, the Capital Of Happy in Central America (and possibly the world).

I have no idea why some places tug at my heart-strings.  Turkey, in general, and Diyarbakir, specifically, I'm looking at you... but now you've got competition for Most Wonderful Place in the World.

Like Diyarbakir, there's not much going on in Alegría.  Here, I'll show you the main attractions.

There is this mirador, or scenic viewpoint, called Cien Grados (100 steps) within the village.  Ask anyone in town where to find it.
ehh, can't see much, too hazy
 And there's a walk up the north side of Volcán Tecapa along a cobblestone street to view the emerald green, sulfur-infused crater lake, la Laguna de Alegría.  Ask anyone in town how to get there.  Yes, the walk is safe.
nice, i guess
Let's just say that it's not the attractions that bring someone here.  What is it, then?

When I first arrived in the town, I wasn't sure if it was a real Salvadorean village or a movie set.

It was just so clean--hey, over there was a group of young ladies with brooms sweeping up nothing, as far as I could see.
spotless central park
 It was just so picturesque--does this not look like a postcard?
Everyone was just so friendly--when I had pupusas for dinner, the woman behind the griddle laughed at my pupusa enthusiasm and everyone who entered the comedor greeted me and/or wished me a good meal and/or said good night to me, and everyone else in the comedor.
my first pupusas
 I stayed at the Entre Piedras guesthouse, where there was an adorable eensy-weensy puppy dog and a kind older man who insisted that I take one of his hand-made chocolates when I left.
eensy-weensy puppy dog
chocolates hecho a mano
So, was the place real?  Do people actually live and work there?  Or is it just another point on the gringo trail?  The central plaza is charming, but walk a block or two in any direction and Alegría looks more like a typical Central American village and less like a colonial Disneyland.  Walk a few more blocks and leave the village and you're smack-dab in the middle of rural poverty.

But even here in "real" Alegría, interactions with people were universally relaxed, friendly, and outgoing.  On my wanderings a few blocks to a few kilometers away from Alegría, away from the spotless central plaza and the artesanía shops, I found the same warm smiles and universal "buenos días" greetings.  I'm pretty sure I was the only gringa in town that day... maybe that's why everyone was so nice.

Hats off to you, Alegría.  I see from where you get your name...  happiness.  :-)

More photos:

No comments:

Post a Comment