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El Salvador is a Hammock Culture

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SUCHITOTO, El Salvador- “There are not that many countries where it is completely socially acceptable to lay around in a hammock all day.”

El Salvador is a hammock country. Hammocks swing from doorways, inside living rooms, on porches, in outdoor courtyards, and from trees. Just about everywhere a hammock can be hung, there will be a
Salvadoran swinging from one. Even more than watching television, hammock dreaming seems to be the prime occupation of the country.

I remember once as I stood on a hill overlooking the blue Rajasthan city of Johdpur, a group of Indian boys walked up to me and began talking. One of them joked that “time pass” was India’s national sport. Time pass is the national occupation of many tropical countries. It feels good to swing from a hammock in the open air of a hot tropical afternoon — just passing the time of day until it is cool enough to return to living again.

It is so hot in El Salvador at this time of year that merely thinking is often enough make you sweat. Swinging in a hammock is the ideal thing to do, just swinging and dreaming easy dreams. I am an inveterately active person, I am from upstate NY — if I did not keep moving as a child I would freeze. I have proudly kept this habit up as I’ve traveled through other regions and climes of the world. It has only been a recent concept for me that I should not try to hike for ten miles in the midday tropical sun, or that people should just lay in the shade in the heat — I just never really thought of this before.

But now that this has occurred to me, the hammocks that sit out on my porch are as inviting as the Siren’s song. As I type these words I am sitting in an upright, straight back chair, but I am thinking of the hammocks just outside the door. I do not believe that I can work from a hammock — something about this just does not sound right.

Hammocks are for dreaming, not doing.

I look out from the second tier porch of my apartment in Suchitoto, I look down upon two Salvadorans laying in their hammocks in the apartments beneath me, another is swinging from a hammock in front of the room next to mine, I look up at a house on a hill that rises up to the east — it is full of hammocks with people laying in them. Nobody seems to be overtly occupied, all have easy looks on their faces, everyone seems to be doing exactly what they want to be doing with their day:

Swinging, laying, dreaming in the heat of a tropical day. Their work is temporarily done, they are doing what they want to do — abiding by the call of the climate.

The call of the tropics clearly comes from a hammock. I find myself obeying. In travel, if you live within your circumstance the road is open, if you fight your circumstance, the path before you goes uphill. My circumstance during the hot season in El Salvador is to lay in my hammock, dreaming, watching the mangos fall, watching the leaves fall, swinging back and forth, doing what the Salvadorans do.

Laying in a hammock — it is too hot to do anything else.

El Salvador Travel Guide — El Salvador Photos

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Filed under: Central America, Culture and Society, El Salvador, Weather

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 80 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3136 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Zhushan Village, Kinmen, TaiwanMap