Tuesday, January 04, 2022

Room Service

 I remember, many years ago, fantasizing about a lifestyle where I could live in a hotel room. I would order room service any time I wanted, and when I was finished, I could just put the dirty dishes outside the door.

Be careful what you wish for!

We are now isolating in our 4-star hotel in San Salvador because The Covid test we took on Monday produced result the same day, and those results were positive - for both of us. We certainly don't want to be responsible for spreading the virus. That means we are not able to join the group on the pre-trip of El Salvador. We need to stay in our room for 4 more days, when we will get tested again. If we get a negative test then, we can go on with the tour to Guatemala. Our trip insurance will allow us to take the El Salvador tour some other time.

If we still test positive on Friday, we will be calling off the rest of the trip. We'll keep getting tested until we're negative, because we cannot board a plane bound for the US without a negative Covid test. They are very well equipped to administer the tests here. Someone from a company called Analiza will come to the hotel and set up shop in a small room off the lobby. There they will swab your nose as well as the back of your throat to do the PCR test, and get you results same day. All that convenience comes at a price however - $95 per test.

Don't worry about us!

We were watching the news on CNN (the one channel in English) and seeing people stuck in their cars in a snow storm on I-95 in Virginia. We looked at each other and looked around our 4-star hotel room. There's a beautiful mountain scene our our window.

The food and wine via room service is delicious. The WiFi is fast. And, we are really good at sitting around and doing nothing. Jim says that is our superpower! I know some people that refuse to travel to faraway places because they just can't stand sitting for that long. Here's where being lazy is a positive personality trait! I remember traveling to Borneo and really enjoying hour after hour of in-flight movies. I think I watched 5 movies, read 2 books, and still had time to shut my eyes and try to sleep a while! While we've always been pretty good at doing nothing, 2020 taught us how to take that skill to a superpower.

If you watched our last YouTube show: (Episode 226: Technology for Travelers, the gear we’re taking to Central America) You saw that one of the things we packed is an HDMI cable and adapter so that we could plug our phone into the TV to view our photos and videos on a big screen. Well, we haven't had much opportunity for taking photos and videos, but we used that cable to connect my Samsung phone to the TV and watched an HBO movie - in English! We watched Tom Hanks play a person whose Visa was revoked just as he landed in New York and he has to live in the airport. It seemed vaguely familiar! 

My friend, Arynne, asked if we now regretted our decision to go ahead with this trip. Actually, no. For me, the thrill of travel, leaving the ground and taking off to a country where I've never been, is a life-affirming act. The exhilaration may end up being short-lived, but it was still valuable. I am glad we got the trip insurance, something I rarely do, so we know we will take this trip sometime, if not now.

San Salvador or El Salvador?

Meanwhile, we're still in El Salvador and taking some time to learn a bit about this country. First up, where are we? San Salvador or El Salvador? San Salvador is the capital city of the country El Salvador. We flew in to El Salvador at the San Salvador Int'l airport (SAL) then to the beach and our first night's accomodation. After discovering Jim's positive Covid test, the tour guide from Overseas Adventure Travel transferred us to the Barcelo San Salvador hotel from where we were at the beach for two reasons: 

  1. If we were actually sick and needed medical care, the best hospital is in San Salvador. 
  2. Our Pre-trip for El Salvador ends here and the main trip "Route of the Maya" starts here and goes to Guatemala
  3. Since Guatemala does require a negative Covid test before crossing the border, all participants in the group will be required to take the test on Friday before the main tour starts on Saturday.
The 2 markers on this map represent the location where we spent our first night - at the ocean, and the location in San Salvador where we are isolating for the rest of the week.

El Salvador is a small country. Apparently, it is so small that map-makers don't have enough room to write out the country name! At 8,124 sq miles, El Salvador is just slightly bigger than Massachussetts and it is the smallest country in the Americas. Their money is the US Dollar - making it very easy for American tourists here.
El Salvador has made headlines in the last 6 months, primarily due to their young, hotshot president, Nayib Bukele. Bukele enjoys high popularity rates, but many accuse him of using that fact to become more of a dictator than a democratic president. His biggest news, which is one of the reasons we wanted to come here is declaring Bitcoin as legal tender. Notice this sign in the airport that they accept:
  1. Chivo - the special Bitcoin wallet for El Salvador
  2. ₿ - Bitcoin, presumably using other wallets
  3. Dollars - USA Dollars
  4. Credit card

 We thought we were going to have plenty of time to try paying for things with Bitcoin, so we took the easy way out at the airport and used Dollars. Now that we are isolated - I don't know if we'll get the chance. We asked if we could pay for our beers at the first hotel with Bitcoin and they just shook their heads - credit cards or cash. But we've asked a couple of El Salvadorans - in the elevator - if they used Bitcoin and they smiled and said Si! We asked if they liked their president and they gave 2 thumbs up.

Another item in the news is about China. El Salvador has contracted with China for a major infrastructure overhaul and Stadium. It looks like China may be buying an island off the coast of El Salvador and build out a port for Chinese ships. Sounds a little scary.  

OK, back to my book, All Over The Place by Geraldine DeRuiter. She makes me laugh.


Julie Manhold said...

You guys are real troopers. I have no doubt that ]yYour positive attitudes will see you through these trying times.

EQinsight said...

WOW! And YES! 4 star hotel, good food... but I know I'd get a bit claustrophobic­čą║­čś│­čą║. Hope tests come back soon and NEGATIVE ! Is insurance also paying for quarantine hotel? Hope too that you're still feeling well. What a story. I do hear that El Salvador is a choice place for expats, maybe on your return trip I'll join you! Ah just to be lazy and enjoy the ocean!

Debbie Do said...

You guys always make the best of things!!! Have fun & keep us posted!

Marianne Edwards said...

Oh no! Sure hope your test today (Friday) lets you continue the rest of your itinerary!