Volcanos and Beaches
  • Day9

    San Salvador / Airport

    April 20 in El Salvador ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    Drove back to san salvador and dropped off the rental car. My flight home is at 1am, so i booked a hotel for the day so i had a place for my luggage and also so i could lie down too. I found a covid testing service that comes to your hotel room and does the test there and provides the results within minutes. Thankfully, it came back negative.

    Went to a nearby artisan market and then spent my afternoon and evening at a couple of breweries near my hotel. Sonia joined me and drank out of baby beer glasses compared to my full pint sized ones haha. I'm really impressed with the quality of beers at Cadejo and Squirrel Eye. At the latter i asked if they had any merchandise and they said its all at the new location in El Tunco. Darn, i literally just spent 2 days there and never saw it. But i did manage to bribe them to part with a few nice beer glasses :)

    Nice relaxing day to finish off another busy, but fun trip. Found a driver to take me to the airport 45 minutes away for 13 dollars! Crazy. My driver Hugo was super chatty with great english and we shared a lot of laughs as we raced through the mountain roads to the airport. Quick goodbye and that was the end of my el salvador 🇸🇻 adventure.
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  • Day8

    El Tunco - Day 2

    April 19 in El Salvador ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    Got up at a reasonable hour and drove 25 minutes to the town of Taminique up in the mountains. I found the central park and started inquiring to an officer about hiring a guide to take me to the nearby waterfall. The officer called over a guy standing nearby and off mario and i went.

    The trail was really steep, all downhill for about 40 minutes. And then we arrived at a small gorge with a sizeable waterfall dropping into an inviting pool. We were the only ones there. I jumped in, splashed around, got some pics and thoroughly enjoyed cooling off from the crazy heat of this country.

    Started the grueling hike back up the steep trail and passed by a ton of people heading down to the waterfall. I was very lucky to have it all to myself. I pushed myself really hard to hike all the way back without stopping but i needed 2 quick breaks to catch my breath. I think mario wasn't terribly disappointed as he was huffing and puffing a lot too. We stopped at his friend's restaurant for a beer break and chatted with the owner Vladimir for a bit. Really nice guy with decent English.

    Quickly made my way back to El Tunco to get my stuff together and drove another hour to costa del sol for some really pretty sandy beaches. I paid a resort 20 dollars to gain access and the 20 bucks was used as credit towards food and drink.. very fair deal. Waves were huge here. I got into the big ones but got out of there after seeing the size of them up close.

    Drove back to El Tunco just before sundown. Watched some surfers for a bit and then to a nice restaurant for an awesome fish dinner stuffed with shrimp. Best meal of the trip easily. A few drinks at some local lounges and off to bed.
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  • Day7

    El Tunco / Surf City

    April 18 in El Salvador ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    Had a very lazy morning, catching up on some sleep. Once i finally got going, drove 30 minutes to El Tunco, also known as Surf City because it hosts surfing competitions every year. And i can see why. Big waves that don't break .. they roll almost all the way to the shore giving surfers a really long ride

    Unfortunately, the shore area is not sandy at all, so its not a beach destination. It really is a surf town and almost everyone walking around is a tourist. Lots of restaurants and bars overlooking the ocean, and cute spots on the narrow streets of the tiny town. My hotel is beachside and is a bunch of small cabins in a treed area with hammocks..

    But this particular day was extremely quiet. The semana santa weekend just ended and most establishments were empty or closed. Monday is definitely not the day to visit. The giant rain clouds in the evening didn't help either.

    I decided to not try surfing this time. The waves are big, and the rocky shore concerned me a bit too. Plus i need to get into better shape because its an incredibly hard sport that requires a lot of strength but also a lot of endurance.

    For a late lunch i finally tried pupusas - salvadoran delicacy. And later had an awesome ceviche by the beach. Sat in an awesome beachside lounge for a bit. And a few beverages at a street side cantina bar before calling it a night.
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  • Day6

    Ataco / San Salvador

    April 17 in El Salvador ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    Yesterday did not go to plan at all, so today was about rectifying some of yesterday's unlucky events. Set off hoping to see the "seven waterfalls" and Ataco, a part of the rutas de las flores - a group of small colonial towns high up in the mountains and volcanos.

    Sonia had not seen the 7 waterfalls yet, so she tagged along. Didn't depart until 1045, and the mountain roads are slow, so we didn't arrive in Ataco until 1230. Ataco is a gorgeous village filled with artisan markets, nice restaurants and most famous for its brightly coloured murals on many of the houses and buildings. Its quite a wonderful experience no matter what direction you wander. And of course the awesome mountain backdrop in every direction too.

    From there, headed to the 7 waterfalls area just outside of juayua. Had to hire a guide for 10 dollars each and i can see why. It was a complex trek through dense jungle with several different paths forking different directions. The walk itself was not easy. Lots of uphill and steep downhill parts and much of it with a steep drop on one side too.

    Uniquely, the water was coming out of a high rock wall and spread out over a very wide area and then over a cliff edge. We were on top of that cliff edge. Really pretty spot. We had to traverse through the running water to get to the largest part and from there i climbed up the biggest part of the falls. About 45 minutes to get there and another 45 minutes back. And then the 2 hour drive back to san salvador, arriving just as the sun went down.
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  • Day5

    Juayua / San Salvador

    April 16 in El Salvador ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Had exciting plans to hike up the santa ana volcano but the sky was totally covered in clouds and looked like it might rain too. Its a 5 hour expedition and didn't want to exert all that effort with bad weather and no views from the summit.

    So i decided to drive to Juayua instead to see the cute town and see more waterfalls. The drive was great winding around and over mountains and volcanoes for 90 minutes.

    The town was consumed with semana santa celebrations (Easter) and had streets barricaded for pedestrians only with lots of food tents and entertainment. Took that in for a little bit and then drove to the waterfalls. Crazy rough road. I came across 2 people standing aside so i rolled down my window and asked how far away the waterfalls are and they told me it was closed right now. Bummer! They were returning from a different hike so i told them to hop in and i would drive them up the hill.

    Went back to the town, got some food and watched the festivities take place around me for a while and then drove back to san salvador. I was invited to hang out later with Mauricio who i hung out with the first night i arrived. And before that, i went to a bar next to my hotel. Made a new friend sonia there, who spoke perfect english (such a rarity here) and we ended up chatting the night away. Such a novelty being able to speak freely to someone without having to translate everything. Never made it to where Mauricio was. Hopefully can meet up with Mauricio another night before i head home.
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  • Day4

    Lake Coatepeque

    April 15 in El Salvador ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    The owner of the hotel told me there would be a good friday procession going right in front of the hotel. Thats pretty cool. I know its a big deal here and i wanted to experience some of it. So instead of trying to hike the nearby volcano, i hung around all morning until it arrived. I had the only balcony on the street i think and it was a fantastic cultural experience. I will let the video do the talking

    I was ready to checkout, and started chatting with awesome carlos who owns the casa verde hotel/hostel, and before i knew it, we were chatting over beers by the pool area. Honestly one of my favorite people ever. So nice and incredibly trusting with his honour system for everything too. We talked a lot about temperatures in canada vs el salvador and i laughed immensely when he admitted he didn't even own a sweater haha. This country is so sweltering hot.. its hard to describe beyond that.

    Finally checked out and drove 45 minutes westward to an incredibly beautiful set of waterfalls falling into a gorge. It was gorgeous but the really unique thing was that the water is heated by a volcano and is incredibly hot. Like the water was so hot, it was hard to get into it. Hotter than a hottub. So weird for a waterfall. Splashed around there for an hour and then got going.

    Conscious of the time, i left around 4 to make sure i arrived at lake coatepeque before sundown. Gorgeous volcanic crater lake with volcanos on one side of it. And restaurants dotted all around it. Incredibly pretty. Unfortunately my hotel was on the volcanos side, so my views were less dramatic but my drive in was pretty awesome. And the hotel/hostal is a chaotic mishmash of deck levels - which i can fully appreciate haha.

    Mostly hung out by myself with some food and drinks until a Salvadoran came by and asked me to join his table. I don't remember his name but his friend Katy asked me 100 times how it was possible i could be single because i was so handsome haha. She has a salient point haha !!! Honestly, she was really really drunk (they both were) but they were fun company and it was nice to meet some people here where no one spoke English. This country is highly spanish only and interacting with neighbors in a pub is far more difficult. I've also been sleeping poorly, so my desire has been muted somewhat. But super fun day again. Love it here.
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  • Day3

    Santa Ana

    April 14 in El Salvador ⋅ ⛅ 34 °C

    Decided to walk in the morning to the rental car location from my hotel. Zona Rosa is super duper safe so i left early to walk around a bit and see some different streets and maybe scout a good place for supper another night. Despite being a bit after 9am, it was sweltering hot. This country is maybe the hottest i have experienced. No joke.

    I was a bit leery about driving through san salvador to get out to other areas because i noticed some really different traffic light situations where its a red light but also a flashing yellow forward arrow next to it. Confusing. But i didn't encounter any of that fortunately.

    The drive to suchitoto was really nice. Very jungly once i got out of the city. Got behind a big tuk tuk jam again in some tiny town but that was the only issue.

    Suchitoto is probably the cutest colonial town i have ever visited. Super colourful, cute terraces, cobblestone, beautiful plaza and cathedral. Very small and walkable and a huge artisan market in the plaza. I was told to visit a certain restaurant for great food and amazing views high above the lake but the lineup was out the door and down the street. The secret is out!! But i managed to convince them to let me enter and take some pics. They really didn't want to but somehow they let me in there, snapped a few pics and ran away.

    Then drove down lakeside to a cool restaurant location packed with locals. I ordered a soup and got served a side of chicken and salad. I think my spanish revealed a few chinks in the armour there somewhere haha. Also got a beer and smoothie for a grand total of 12 bucks. Life is easy street here.

    Then drove to santa ana through the mountains. Always a mountain backdrop or actually on top of a mountain during the drive. And the roads were great! I was expecting Guatemala quality roads and was pleasantly surprised. But just before entering santa ana, the road was closed. I studied the map for a while and concluded my only route was to drive through a cemetary. No joke. And there were detour signs in there, so my conclusion was right, but i felt so weird driving by people mourning their loved ones. Also there's a serious lack of manhole covers in this country. I drove over or near 12 of them today with no manhole cover!!! Yikes!

    My hostal in santa ana is super nice. I think i have the best room in the place with the only balcony. Walked to the very pretty main plaza and cathedral and via endless outdoor markets on the way there. Its like our version of a department store but outdoors. Found an awesome pub overlooking the cathedral. Met up with some friends i made in san salvador but forgot to take a group pic, silly me. Hit up one more pub en route to the hotel and thats a thursday wrap :) Great day.
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  • Day2

    San Salvador - Day 2

    April 13 in El Salvador ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    Today i wanted to see some sights of the city before heading into the countryside of el salvador. Had lunch near my hotel and then took an uber downtown. There were a few nice buildings like the cathedral, the theatre and the palace, but otherwise all of downtown is completely consumed by street markets everywhere. And i mean everywhere. And most buildings were in really rough shape.

    After walking around in the heat, i wanted to find a restaurant to sit down and have a cold beverage and eventually use the wifi to get an uber back. But i literally couldn't find one. I came across a couple of really rough looking places but thats it. So i walked about an hour towards my hotel until i found something decent. My hotel area has endless awesome restaurants and bars but centro area is completely devoid of it. So weird. And oh boy was it hot.

    Ubered back my hotel around 4, grabbed a couple of things and then took another uber to a nice restaurant up on the side of a volcano with awesome views of the city. 35 minute drive but my uber cost 5 dollars haha. Its ridiculously cheap for transportation in this country.

    Once i got dropped off it occured to me it might be hard to find other uber drivers on the volcano haha... and the wifi at that restaurant wasnt working. Slight problem. so i walked down the mountain about 15 minutes to another really nice restaurant, sat down for a beer and watched the sun set over san salvador and another nearby volcano in the distance. And began the long process of trying to summon a driver to get me back to the city.

    Eventually got one and arrived back at the hotel around 8pm. Finished the evening at a really nice lounge spot. Super tired as i think all the travel and heat caught up with me. And needed a good sleep to be fresh for driving around the country tomorrow.
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  • Day1

    San Salvador - Day 1

    April 12 in El Salvador ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Mostly a long travel day. But not uneventful either. Not always for the right reasons :)

    I let my cat outside the night prior to my flight, and when i got up at 5:45am, he wasn't anywhere to be found. Usually he's at the front door. But i had to pack still and leave by 615, so priorities shifted unfortunately. Luckily just as my uber pulled up, so did my cat. Phew!

    Had a long layover in Toronto and met a nice American at the barstool next to me. Chatted for a bit and eventually learned she is from el salvador. What are the odds? Apparently not bad haha.

    On the houston flight, i had the chattiest 86 year old ever next to me. Incredibly interesting guy from moncton but he also feels ukraine is equally part of the problem so we weren't exactly simpatico. Once we got past that awkwardness, it was just both of us spewing travel stories over and over for 4 hours.

    At a pub in Houston, met a nice guy named Colin who does emissions testing all over the US... which made me laugh a lot .. cuz yknow... trump, Republicans, etc. If i didn't have a quick connection, we would chatted forever.

    And finally arrived in el salvador. The airport is literally next to the ocean and san salvador is waaaay up in the mountains. So, that was a very long drive into the city. The equivalent to Ottawa having its airport in Cornwall. Weird. I asked for a taxi and got a 15 seat van to myself for an hour ride for $35. I'm sure there were cheaper options but i noticed most people were riding in the back of pickups! 35 is fine, thank you!!

    Settled in, showered, and went across the street to the Cadejo brewery (perhaps not coincidence). San salvador has a lot of unsavory areas but zona rosa is a giant safe area and my hotel is amazing. I can't believe its a third world country hotel because its pretty swank. Nicest place i have stayed in, for years.

    Live band at the brewery and everybody bouncing off their seats (my vid unfortunately is not depicting it). Surprising for a Tuesday. Then went across the street again to a very lively outdoor establishment. Feels like a Saturday.. fun vibe.

    Fun day, despite a million airport hours logged. I traveled a gazillion miles and as soon as i arrive, 50 feet is my boundaries somehow, apparently haha. Everything fun is literally right here. Perfect for a late arrival. Tomorrow, i explore.
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