After our hike in El Imposible, we decided to stick together as a group a bit longer and visit the renowned feria gastronomica, or food festival, in the small mountain town of Juayua. I mean, who doesn’t crave some freshly grilled iguana after a long hike in the sweltering heat? We arrived in town just in time to watch the vendors pack away their culinary delights and soon found out the festival was wrapping up for the weekend due to the national election that was taking place the next day. Oh well, we thought. We’ll just grab a beer and some pupusas instead. Those who enjoy hiking will probably agree that there are few things more rewarding after a tough hike than a good beer. Seeing as how we were in Central America, we were ready to sacrifice the “good” part and simply settle for a beer. Any beer. We picked a nearby restaurant with nice outdoor seating and promptly ordered our drinks.
What?! What do you mean you’re not selling alcohol? All right, well excuse us as we find another restaurant. NO ONE IS SELLING ALCOHOL?!? FOR THREE DAYS??
Turns out it’s very common for Central American countries to ban the sale of alcohol during the days prior to and directly after an election or during a national holiday such as Semana Santa.
Zero for 2 on the day, we did at least manage to find some delicious pupusas before returning, somewhat defeated, to our vehicles. Despite trying to play it cool, we each quickly ransacked our respective belongings in search of some booze, only to be rewarded with a meager can or two of beer and ¼ bottle of white wine. That’s when Zach pulled out a bottle of triple sec we’d been carrying around since our margarita-making days in Mexico. It’s not that we were desperate or anything, it’s just that orange flavored liqueur is a nice addition to hot chocolate. Really.
The next day, we left Juayua in search of another great hike in Parque Nacional Los Volcanes. What better way to pass the time of an alcohol ban than 4,000 feet of elevation change as we scaled our first active volcano of the trip. Volcan Izalco is a near-perfect cone that juts out from the surrounding landscape in spectacular fashion. Another tough but rewarding hike on the books. And more triple sec-spiked hot chocolate to go around.
From Los Volcanes, we found a great spot on the shores of Lago de Coatepeque and spent the next couple of days writing, organizing and waiting out prohibition (the end of which may or may not have been celebrated with the consumption of 45 beers). As we were packing up to leave, several trucks arrived at the hostel next door and began unloading what looked like an enormous amount of band equipment.
Good thing we’re leaving today, I thought. There’s going to be a huge party next door.
I bet they’re celebrating the end of prohibition too.
As I was frying up some eggs for a quick breakfast, a young woman approached us and began talking in rapid-fire Spanish. We were able to determine she wanted something from us, but exactly what we could not figure out. Something about needing a gringo.
Oh, ok, so you need him to help you unload some equipment? No?
You want him to model for you? What’s that? A Pizza Hut commercial?
If there was any hesitation on Zach’s part, it quickly faded at the mention of compensation in US dollars. Next thing I knew Zach was sitting passively on set allowing a flamboyant Salvadoran to apply various layers of beauty products to his face. Probably the best part of the whole experience, other than watching Zach flirt on cue with some very young salvadoreñas, was watching the director go through Zach’s clothes bin and disapprovingly veto each item Zach pulled out. You know your wardrobe is severely lacking when your very best option for a photo shoot involves a decade old t-shirt with a giant picture of Marge Simpson and the words “Funky Bitch” across the front.
And that’s the story of how Zach got his first modeling gig.