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  • ... is a lovely place and really tranquilo town at a huge lake in the mountains of El Salvador. The people are very very friendly and the houses colorful and covered with bullet holes of the fightings in the civil war not older than 10-15 years.

    Staying at "El Gringo" we are enjoying a rather quiet New Years Eve with just one fellow backpacker in the hostel.

    The stories about bandits in town seem to be untrue (luckily). We felt save at all times.

    Down at t the lake there is a little island closeby, where they have Zip-lines for the locals to enter and exit the island – VERY NICE!

    Happy New Year from Suchitoto!
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  • How long: 4 Nights
    Stayed: Casa Mazeta
    Travelling with: Solo and Tom

    Beautiful trip along the coast to Sonsonate. So many stunning beaches. Easy change in Sonsonate and on to Juayua on the hottest chicken bus in the world. Mashed in beside a poor little old man who I was sweating all over. Great chats and he offered to take me out driving following day and show me the countryside. Asked if I had friends in Juayua and when I said no that I was alone, I corrected me and said I had him as he was now my friend. So nice :)
    Arrived at Casa Mazeta early evening and met the only two other guests...Erin who I had shared a dorm with in El Tunco, and Kane...both Aussies. Lovely homely hostel....just like a cosy house share. Cooked for the first time in weeks (months) and spent the evening watching movies with my housemates. Kane was planning to do the waterfall tour next day so decided to jump in with him ....despite the lingering cold.
    Set off at 8am with Kane and our guide Elmer and Billie the dog from the hostel. Picked up out second guide Jose and 2 more dogs at his house and off we went. What a wonderful day! Hiking through coffee finca first and then through stunning rain forest to the first of the 7 waterfalls I the day. Elemer was very informative about the landscape and particularly the coffee finca. He's been guiding for 12 years....despite looking like he was still 12. For the next 5 hours we walked through stunning hills and waterfalls and even got to grapple down one which was great fun. At the last one the boys made us a delicious lunch and then we headed for home. Probably one of the most enjoyable hikes of my trip so far!!
    Flaked on the couch after a little walk around town to check out Juayua. My cold definitely catching up with me. Was still on the couch when Tom arrived a few hours later. Had a little wander with him and then back to the hostel to cook and slob some more.
    Next day headed off on the chicken bus with Tom to check out more of the towns on the Ruta. Beautiful drive through the countryside, unfortunately the flowers that give this route it's name are not in bloom at the moment. It's still very beautiful but i'd say when they are in bloom it is something else. First stop was Ataco. Beautiful little town about 30 mins from Juayua. Much more touristy but like so much of El Sal there were no gringos in sight...apart from us of course. We spent the next few hours wandering around and checking out all the beautiful murals. Small cobbled streets and colourful houses abound. Had lunch in a little garden place that I think was Italian and was bizarrely playing Christmas songs in Italian...Andrea Bottelli Christmas compilation is my guess. Very funny. Bit more wandering and souvenir buying and then jumped back on the chicken bus and made our way to Apanece.
    Much smaller and less cute than Ataco but still nice. Not much to attract the tourists so it was quiet. Had a quick lap of the town and then back on the bus for home. Juayua was bustling and people set up for the weekend food festival. Back to the hostel and the evening bus deposited 3 Irish (Eoin, Majella & Eilis) to Casa Mazeta. Yay...people to watch the match with :)
    Up at 7 next morning to watch poor Ireland getting hammered by Belgium. 4 very subdued Irish on the couch by the end. Then onto the rugby...more disappointment . Had planned to move to suchitoto but really couldn't manage to drag myself away from the home comforts of Casa Mazeta so decided to stay another night. Went to check out the food festival with the Irish and Tom in the afternoon and later that night roused ourselves from our laziness and headed out with Susanna (who jointly owns the hostel) and some of her friends. Live music and good company led to a fun night and of course bitter end Roche stayed on with the two local boys when the others very sensibly went home(the Irish were hiking next day so they called it a night at a very sensible hour). Had great Spanglish chats with Cesar and his brother Diego and then they walked me back to the hostel after we had exhausted all options to find some of course.
    Needless to say my plan to be up and out by 8am for the long trip to Suchitoto went out the window next morning. Finally got on the road by 10....long day and 5 chicken busses ahead.
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  • After another night of chatting with locals and their kids at a church in the small town of Chilata, we decided to split up to try two different routes to the coast. Antoine and Joe took the adventurous route up onto a high ridge road, while the two of us opted to descend to the coast sooner and ride the winding "Sun and Beach Route" to La Libertad. We got a 6 am start since we knew it was going to be hot on the coast, and quite enjoyed riding up, down and around the numerous coastal headlands, especially since surprise tunnels made the little hills even smaller. We made good time to La Libertad, pushing to stay ahead of the heat, and then luckily managed to bump into Antoine and Joe after a quick tour of the Malecon. It sounded like we may have made the better route choice...Read more

  • We missed meeting up with Karl's Aunt Jodi, who came down to El Salvador to a friend's beach rental house a month before we got there. Luckily for us she very kindly treated us to a couple nights of accomodation at Rancho Tranquilidad when we finally made it to Playa San Diego. What an amazing treat to relax poolside for a day with a beautiful kitchen and air-conditioned rooms. Antoine cooked up some delicious meals including crepes loaded with fruit from the passing fruit truck, and we did a lot of reading and relaxing (and Karl still managed to find a way to be helpful by cleaning the pool in his snorkel gear!). Thanks Jodi!Read more

  • How long: 2 nights
    Travelling with: Solo

    Had reservations about going to San Sal as it doesn't have a good rep. But had to head there for camera fixing and also my friend Jane had put me in touch with a friend who lives there so figured had to check it out.
    Easy hour and half bus ride got me bus terminal occidente and plumped straight for a taxi...there are times to try and navigate the local city bus transport but decided this wasn't one of them .
    Got to hostel and after quick rest headed off in search of the camera shop. Zona Rosa (where my hostel was) is upscale SS with lots of poshish shops and restaurants and even an Irish bar. Totally safe and really quite dull. Found the camera shop and explained and the looked and said no sorry we don't repair...then his colleague had a look and laughed and said it's the filter...not the lens!! So embarrassed but also so expectations of a possible $600 for a new lens became $25 for new filter. Kicking myself for not realising and thus causing an unnecessary trip to San Sal. Note to self....learn about your bloody camera!
    Caught in massive rain on way back to hostel so arrived like drowned rat! Part of life at this time of year.
    Natalia and her boyfriend Diego picked me up a few hours later and took me out for the evening. Such a lovely couple and so generous with their time. Had some typical el salvadorian food and then for some popular el salvadorian entertainment. ...karaoke! Not my favourite pastime but great fun to watch Natalia and all her friends have a blast. What a lovely bunch of 25 year olds....I really felt old.
    Sunday spent at museum and art gallery. Tried to get to a local market but rain came down like nothing on earth so after sheltering for about 40 mins resorted to jumping jnto a very expensive taxi and to a mall to pass the afternoon.
    Monday into Centro to check out the manic mercado central and the Centro historico, including Inglesia Rosario which is a pretty ugly looking church from the outside but step into a little stained glass paradise.
    A few trials with buses getting out of the city but eventually managed to get myself very sweatily into a bus to El Tunco. San Sal exceeded albeit low expectations but happy enough to be leaving it behind and heading for the beach.
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  • How long: 2 nights
    Stayed: Case Verde Hostel
    Travelling with: Susan

    Up early and after a delicious brekkie at Mama's we jumped on the chicken bus back to Ahuachapan and then got a mototaxi (tuk tuk) to Santa Theresa Thermales. These are natural hot springs about 7km outside Ahuachapan where we spent a very nice and relaxing few hours soothing out weary bones in the hot water. We then got a lift back to town from the owner who was happy to meet us as his Donald Trump was apparently from Irish heritage. He was not impressed with the ferocity with which this was denied. I couldn't get over how a Latin American could support that shit but when I realised he was also a staunch Arena supporter it made a lot more sense. I was unusually reserved in my politics tho....was happy with the lift and didn't want to be ejected into the rain :)
    He dropped us to the chaotic market where the bus for Santa Ana was departing and off we went on yet another packed chicken bus. Arrived in Santa Ana in early evening and made our way to Casa Verde with the help of many friendly locals...and I bought a $3 outfit along the way.
    Casa Verde turned out to be a really lovely hostel run by a great guy called Carlos who was super hostel. He recommended we eat in a place called Simmer Down and even got one of the guys working in the hostel to drive us there. Lovely meal and then home where we met up with Carlos and some of his buddies and had a few beers with them and checked out the roof terrace. Nice view of Santa Ana and we got to experience "Il Sereno" which is basically the neighbourhood watch and consists of a guy cycling around town all night (with a massive fun of course) and blowing a whistle every few metres to let the people know I is there keeping them safe. Apparently a lot of towns have their own Il Serena.
    Next day got up early and headed off to climb Santa Ana volcano with two guys from the hostel...Wei from Singapore and Juan from NZ. Caught a bus at 7.30 to take us to this national park where we had to wait til eleven for the tour to go up. Only one tour per day as you have to have an armed police escort and I guess they not into hiking too much. As we waited we saw 9 bus loads of teenage school kids pull up and as we tried to convince ourselves that there was no way they were doing the hike, the dread did start to set in. At 11 we saw them start to gather and panic set in so we went to investigate where we were told that they were doing a different volcano (phew) BUT the only two police there were going with them so we couldn't do Santa Ana. Gutted but no amount of pleading could change it. So we hung about despondantly for a while and were about to give up when a pick-up full of shiney new police turned up and after much pleading the boss agreed to take us up. So off we went (at a sprint) with our own personal heavily armed police man...who was evidently in a hurry as we did the two hour climb in 45 mins! But oh was it so worth it!! Such amazing views and a reminder...if I needed it...of why I was travelling. Another sprint back down and the 4 of us loaded into the back of the police pickup and dropped to the next town to get the bus home. A nearly disastrous day turned into an exceptional experience.
    Nice chilled night back in Case Verde to round off a really good day.
    Up and out next morning to check out the Saturday market in Santa Ana and then pack up and go out separate ways. Susan heading on to Honduras and I making my way back to San Salvador to try and get camera fixed and then decide where next for me in El Sal. So much to see in this wonderful country that I felt I couldn't leave yet so opted to stay longer. Susan unfortunately on a tighter schedule so she had to press on.
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  • Pray to our savior god for the sun we've got here. It burns, burns, burns like a ring of fire... My hosts were feeling bad yesterday, especially Jorge, and I took a walk close to the center, to see the Monumenta de Salvador del Mundo. But that dear old devil's eye burning in the sky had no mercy on me, burning me at the same time as my stomach was also burning me from the inside. I, too, had been feeling a little bit sick since the morning but not that much that I couldn't do anything. But it changed our plan to go to the lake.

    On the other news, Wednesday night was muy vergon! I went out with Jorge and Liz a bit, and met his cousin and his wife. We had a few beers with them and left home, buying some beers on the way. This guy really has a cool apartment here, yeah, with a little pool and everything. So we were sitting at the terrace, sipping beer, listening to music (mostly Finnish by their request), and talking (quite a lot in Spanish!). At one point his roommate Joaquín also joined us for a little while, a Salvadorean metalhead, hahahahah... ¡Que vergon! :)

    Back to Thursday. When I was "enjoying" my time under the sun (sweating a lot!) I had to fight against my stomach pain, and finally had to give up and enter McDonald's to relieve it. Good thing was that they had wifi there (which is not so common here after all), so finally I stayed there planning, contacting people, writing and updating my blog and things like that. Then Jorge came to pick me up and we returned to the mansion.

    He was still feeling sick, more than before and later they went to a hospital. Me, I decided to meet Polet instead. She came to pick me up and had dinner together (pupusas!)... I was so full after 2 of them, whoah. And then we had a little walk around the park before returning. She was very nice and once again I was speaking mostly Spanish (and she English) so good good good. Improving my Spanish skills, yey! When I returned to the mansion, I also spoke with Joaquín and he doesn't speak much English neither. Finally Jorge and Liz returned from the hospital, still feeling bad but there was no poisoning or anything, it's just a normal infection. Don't know where he got it (and me too but way milder). I haven't really seen him today but I hope he'll up and well by tomorrow before I leave.

    I just gotta love these guys, they are so awesome. I got my clothes washed, my stomach full and they have been truly hospitable, despite the situation. I feel lucky to have met them, as I feel about all the people I have met during this trip... and in my life in overall.

    And that's how the cookie crumbles, coyones, keep stalking. And leave a fg message that you're alive! ;)
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  • My murderous voyage is advancing with a murdering pace ahorita and my dark passenger is eager to kill again. That is, another last night at hand and I have to nail it properly tonight. That murderous look on my face under a bit of darkened skin shall leave you wondering what the hell's he up to now. You know there's almost nothing you can't expect from me. And I still surely am able to surprise you.

    Friday night, droogs, and off to the Milkbar we shall go trying to make up our rassoodocks what to do with the evening. Maybe meet Rebeca, maybe Henry and Rodrigo. Dangers await in one of the not-so-safe cities in the world... but I hear next stop Honduras is even worse. Yet again, I have not encountered any trouble but it is probably because I seek to go with the locals. At least that way I probably avoid the worst.

    Or what do you think, dear coyones, who should be scared of whom, me or them?

    3.06pm CST Huylu signing out...
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  • As is often the case, our intended route to Santa Ana changed in the colourful town of Ahuachapan where we were convinced that the longer hillier Routa de las Flores was worth the effort. We passed some heavily loaded firewood carts as we climbed the first hill, had a lunch/juggling break in Apaneca's nice central park, and rolled on towards more beautiful volcanos adorned with patchwork forests of coffee and shelter trees. As we started into the last big hill of the day we came to a coffee processing facility where the smell of coffee drew us in for a sample, but the giant map of coffee farms and little roads around the volcanoes really caught our interest as it looked like there was a way to circumnavigate Volcan Santa Ana on dirt roads through coffee plantations. We reluctantly got back on our bikes and started up again, enjoying beautiful views over the valley as we climbed. We camped at a church outside of Los Naranjos and had to stake our tents well for the first windy night in a long while - at least it made for a comfortable sleeping temperature!Read more

  • Accessing and navigating the roads through the coffee fields seemed challenging, so we eventually opted to stick to paved roads and do the big loop down through the town of Santa Ana and back up toward the volcano. Karl's bike computer rolled over the 15,000 km mark as we rode out of Santa Ana, so we celebrated with ice cream... how typical! We climbed back up to the crater rim above Lago Coatepeque, which granted us beautiful views in both directions. Once again, we used the clouds as an excuse to skip climbing Volcan Santa Ana and turned our bikes down a wonderful descent on new asphalt back to the highway. We found water, ice cream, and WiFi at a gas station, and eventually decided on one of the many routes we could take to the coast.Read more