Day 13: Backpacking again.
13 dicembre 2021

We’ve now spent several days on the shores of El Salvador and in Bitcoin Beach and it’s time to move on to continue our exploration in the only country in the world where Bitcoin is legal tender. There are still many stories to be told here, we know, but ours is certainly not goodbye. We’ll be returning to El Zonte throughout our journey. In fact, we’re planning to go back right around New Year’s Eve, in a few weeks, to celebrate the New Year on the beautiful local beaches. Nothing is a foregone conclusion, however, in this great adventure of ours, and it will be nice to see if perhaps some other place won’t steal our hearts and convince us to stay.

The truth is that we intimately feel the need to move. We are happy to do it and excited. We know that what lies ahead is the most difficult part of our journey. The one that is most full of unknowns. It’s time to get out of the comfort zone of San Salvador and the Bitcoin Beach to see if, in the real country, living in bitcoin is possible or if Satoshi Nakamoto’s invention is an option only in the capital and for those isolated communities that have decided to adopt it. 

As next stop we choose the town of Santa Ana, located in the western part of the nation, surrounded by volcanoes, lakes, forests and Mayan ruins. It dominates a predominantly agricultural region, which lives essentially from the cultivation of coffee, producing some of the most renowned and valuable qualities in the world.

As is always the case when we need to move, in order to do so safely and be sure we can comply with the rules of our mission, a little preparation is required. By now we have learned and we start to move with ease. In the afternoon we select a handful of hostels and hotels, all in the central area of the city and with the characteristics essential to the accomplishment of our work. They must have good Wi-Fi, possibly hot water – we discovered that this is not at all a given in El Salvador – and respect our budget, which we were forced to reduce slightly. 

Our beloved Bitcoin is not cooperating at all in fact and, for the moment, we are experiencing the first bearish December in hodler’s memory. Traveling paying only with cryptocurrency in 2021 means that too, having to deal with its volatility. We knew this would be a possibility and were prepared for the eventuality. That doesn’t take away from the fact that our purchasing power has definitely shrunk over the past few weeks. This is also part of the adventure and for the moment it adds a little spice to our raids. We enjoy it.

Having prepared a list of the facilities we have chosen, we got on the phone and started to call them one by one, convinced that this activity would take us a long time. Remember? In San Salvador it wasn’t easy at all to find a hotel willing to let us pay the bill with our bitcoins.

And it is here, however, that Santa Ana begins to surprise us.

The receptionist of the first hotel is a girl, when we ask her the fateful question she doesn’t immediately respond negatively, on the contrary. She just tells us that she thinks so but that she must first ask the owner for confirmation. We agree to call back within half an hour and we continue with the phone calls. A promising start. 

But with amazement we realize that the wait won’t be that long, since the third hotel we call already has our satoshi. We were answered by a very kind gentleman who told us that he had a Chivo wallet and that therefore there would be no problems whatsoever. Wonderful. It was surprisingly simple.

Now all we have to do is organize the transfer, but for that we have a solution at hand. In fact, in the past few days we have been introduced to an incredible character who, from what we understand, is a real institution among bitcoiners traveling in El Salvador. His name is Napoleon – but everyone calls him Napo – and he was one of the first professional drivers to accept bitcoin in the country. We’ve met him before, he’s super nice and has an in-depth knowledge of the area. A must-have resource.

Not only that. Napo really understood what the importance of Bitcoin is to his people and what a concrete opportunity for social redemption it can represent. He also understood, however, that the real value is education and training on the ground. Without it, satoshis alone can’t do anything and the true potential of the technology is likely to go unnoticed. That’s why he immediately began collaborating with the Mi Primer Bitcoin association and organizing free courses for young people and adults throughout El Salvador that teach the basics of the technology and give the first rudiments on the concept of financial freedom. A truly valuable activity and a more than admirable initiative.

Everything is set up then. Tomorrow we will put our backpacks on our shoulders, ready to get to know new regions of El Salvador. There’s just enough time for another swim in the ocean at sunset, for a (cold) shower and for yet another plate of papusas from our favorite señora.