The drive to La Libertad was about two hours and the view was getting pretty old, so I decided to check it out from the local’s point of view. Jumping into the cargo bed of our pickup truck, we got back on the highway headed to the beach. The wind zipped over my head, flying at lightening speed toward the others cruising behind us. I watched as the ocean became more and more near. Wooden stands popped up on the side of the freeway selling furniture soon became tropical huts selling umbrellas and beach snacks.
As we reached La Libertad, we turned off the highway onto a dirt road leading to the beach. I hopped out of the back and started walking along the edge of the path, searching for “The wooden door by the green wall” where we’d be staying the night. Knocking on a cedar door, I was greeted with silence.
“Maybe it’s further down?”
Strolling to the next door that was slightly ajar, I poked my head inside. A man (a guard?) was sitting just inside on the lawn watching a soccer game on TV.
“Sergio?” I quizzed him.
“Sí,” he replied, jumping up and heading toward me.
Checking Into Our Beach Hut
Opening the rest of the gate so we could drive in, I stared in awe. I swear this was the definition of paradise. We followed the grassy green path lined with flowers and palm trees to our oasis. Tossing my larger-than-life backpack over my shoulder, I began to climb the staircase to our beach hut nestled right on the ocean’s edge.
Each wall was lined with giant windows propped open with a wooden stick, allowing us to see the tides rolling in against the pebbles beneath us. The sun was beginning to set, casting a fairytale pink into our room. Sergio showed us the ropes and then left us to it. Of course, the first matter on the agenda was to get this drone up in the air.
Taking flight, I let the camera soar over the ocean, getting a front row seat to the surfers catching waves. A few birds flew beside it, accepting the drone into their flock. I twisted it up and around, capturing the town at golden hour and the palm trees swaying in the wind until–suddenly–the only vision I had was the rustling leaves of the tree.
My Drone Got Stuck In A Palm Tree
“Oh my god. OH MY GOD. It’s stuck! It crashed. My drone is gone,” I shouted sprinting across the lawn to the gates.
Sergio had already hopped up and fled the gates, heading next door. He must’ve heard it go down. Now, barefoot on the dirt road, I looked around. All of these trees looked exactly the same and I had no clue which tree it could’ve ended up in. Sergio came out of the neighbors gate and went down to the next door, knocking.
“I think it’s in here,” he said, as his friend came over to open the door.
Sure enough, in the tallest palm tree in the yard, towering over 40 feet above us, rested over $1,000 of camera equipment and priceless footage from our volcano trek.
“You’ve gotta be kidding me,” I said, looking up at the flashing lights in disbelief.
“You need someone to climb it,” Sergio said, looking at me.
“Yes, yes please. Do you know anyone that can?” I pleaded.
“The neighbor can do it. But you need to pay,” he stated, alarmed.
“Okay, okay, I will. Anything,” I replied, as he walked to the next gate to get his guy.
Saving My Drone From the Palm Tree
Less than five minutes later, an older man and his son entered the lawn and began rigging up equipment. He shimmied the ropes around his body up the trunk one-by-one, reaching the top of the palms in less than ten minutes. By this time, however, I’d already done maybe 14 laps around the tree, praying the movement from him climbing up wouldn’t shake my drone out. I was fully prepared to catch this flying instrument before letting it crash back to the pavement.
With one hand gripping the drone and the other the tree, he pulled it out of the leaves. Now, with my baby in someone’s hands, I instantly felt a lot safer. However, we still needed to get it to the ground. He took an extra piece of rope, wrapping it around the body of the drone until he felt it was secure and began lowering it. I swayed back and forth underneath it with my arms wide open, as if I was a kid trying to catch candy at a parade.
“Almoooost….yes! OH my god. ¡Muchas gracias!” I shouted up at my savior, as I inspected the damage. Ironically enough, my drone was still in perfect condition. I guess the best case scenario was it getting stuck in the safe leaves of the tree, instead of hitting it and crashing back to Earth. Once the climber got back on the ground, we asked him what our damage to him was.
“Ahhh, 10 dollar,” he replied, hesitantly.
Once again, I couldn’t believe it. If he had said $100, I still would’ve paid him. That’s the beauty of El Salvador. Even when a local can tell they’re clearly interacting with a tourist, they don’t try to scam them. I’m not so sure I can say the same about Mexico, but I can’t really blame ’em.
I gratefully handed over the money, hugging my drone tight as we walked back to our home. After that fiasco, the sun was almost completely set and there was only one thing we wanted: Dinner. Sergio had recommended a tasty restaurant just across the street and we had no reason not to trust him on that. We strolled into Neto’s Restaurante and sat down next to the other locals, who were all watching the same soccer game as Sergio.
Dinner in La Libertad
I immediately spotted the jalapeño steak that was being served at the food festival this afternoon and it was a done deal. I couldn’t get over how perfect the sauce was. Though I’ve never had jalapeños on steak before, I don’t think I can have another one without them again. It was the perfect combination of spice and cream and savory meat that I had to close my eyes when taking bites. I ordered a piña colada to go with it (I know, what a combo) and I am not exaggerating when I say the glass was the size of my head. They really know how to celebrate in El Salvador….Well, when they’re awake, that is.
Neto’s was the last business open in the entire neighborhood and our server told us they closed at seven. So much for El Salvador knowing how to party. Even so, I wasn’t too upset about the neighborhood being quiet because, once back in our beach hut, I was sleeping like a baby. Leaving the window facing the ocean open, we could see the waves crashing into shore and hear the soothing sounds surround us. A light breezed passed through the walls every now and then, placing a cool blanket of air over my body. Goodnight, La Libertad.