welcome to consuma

Drowning in the heat at San Salvador’s Consuma Fair [YQrtw Day 117 Aug 5]

Location: San Salvador, El Salvador

Today was my first full day in El Salvador. The hostel doesn’t provide breakfast so I lazed in bed until well past 9:30am.

The hostel owner, Ana* (her real name), was around when I was heading out. She told me about the Consuma Fair happening nearby and that the museum is right across the fair.

In the first week of August, El Salvadorians have a week of holiday in celebration of El Salvador del Mundo, patron saint of San Salvador. Consuma is part of this celebration.

Welcome to Consuma 2013

Welcome to Consuma 2013

I walked to the convention center where Consuma is held from July 25 to August 6. I bought an entrance ticket at 25 cents extra from a lady selling tickets. The other way was to queue for a long while and pay only US$1.50 but it wasn’t worth it.

The hall was rather full with visitors and exhibition booths. From the second level, I looked down at the booths. It had a strange mix of appliances, clothes, toys, phone and many other things. It felt like a Sitex fair gone wrong.

Exhibition hall at San Salvador's Consuma

Exhibition hall at San Salvador’s Consuma

I had a coffee at one of the booths before heading down into the hall. The place was so crowded that I had to move very slowly with the current of the crowd.

Based on the booths, I found El Salvadorians’ version of week-long fun strange. How fun it is when you are squeezing with 20 other people in a 5 square-meter space?

I thought I had seen enough when I saw the 10th clothes stall. I found the exit and went out into more exhibition halls and food booths.

I lost count of the number of exhibition halls. Some had a mix of food and clothes while others had cheap clothes that do not look attractive on any body. There was even fun fair games, one involving plates on waters and coin tossing.

Toss quarters into the plate and win soft drinks.

Toss quarters into the plate and win soft drinks.

I also passed by a large tent area which smelled of horses. They have horses at a fun fair!

By this time, I shouldn’t be surprised by anything else but I found a full-fledged amusement park with roller coasters and even a pirate ship. El Salvadorians really take their fun seriously.

Pirate ship at Consuma 2013

Pirate ship at Consuma 2013

Despite all the promised fun in the fair, I was feeling very uncomfortable due to the heat and the size of the crowd.

I checked my watch and was surprised to find that I was only there for 2 hours when it felt like I had spent the whole evening there. My head was pounding as I looked for the exit. Everyone else’s steps were too slow and they were between me and the exit to fresher air and the blinding sun. (I dislike the sun but I hate crowds more than the sun.)

Visiting San Salvador’s city center

After escaping the fair, I took a bus to the city center. The bus fare was cheap at 25 cents. I didn’t memorize the map so I wasn’t sure where I was supposed to get off the bus.

In the end, I followed the crowd and got off at the second bus stop after most of the people went off.

The streets of San Salvador’s center was different from where my hostel was. Here, things were dirtier. It didn’t look like a proper city center but more like an abandoned area populated with people.

I had lunch at a fried chicken place where there was thankfully Wi-Fi. I figured out the nearby landmark and saw the National Theater, the church of San Salvador, the National Library and other monuments.

I took a bus back and rested a while before walking to the shopping malls near the hostel. MegaPlaza mall was huge but under-visited. It looked very empty and some of the shops were not occupied.

I walked over to another mall which was even more depressing. I headed back to MegaPlaza where I had dinner until it became dark.

I debated if I should walk back to the hostel. It didn’t seem wise as it was also raining. In my head, I kept seeing passages in travel guides about the dangers of walking at night in Central and South America.

In the end, I took a cab and was given an over-fluctuated price. I bargained one dollar down. I reached my hostel after the taxi took many long turns.

The Wi-Fi on the second floor of the hostel has miraculously fixed itself. Thank San Salvador!

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