Pupusas, chicken buses and smashing surf!
Last October on my first day of the trip, I stripped down to my undies and dived into a refreshingly cool Pacific Ocean in Venice Beach, LA. 132 days later, after crossing the continent and back, I can happily report a much warmer dip in the same ocean - 3700 km southeast of the starting point. And what an adventure it's been since then!
El Salvador won us over in a battle against Honduras. We really wanted to swim with whale sharks in Utila and go white water rafting in Honduras' finest national park but the travel time and cost involved in the detour put us off. El Salvador it shall be.
We shuttled there from San Pedro via Antigua where we spent a night back at Matiox Hostal. Comfy beds, delightful showers and good wifi just a few of the reasons we love that place. The border crossing was a joke, as people literally jostled at the window booth of customs to get their stamps. Lines and order apparently a foreign concept. Luckily our van driver had the wits to fend them off and hand over a stack of passports. No questions asked. Easy. On entry to El Salvador we didn't even get out of the van. Nor did we get a stamp. Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras have a centro-american pact of some sort (perhaps someone can fill me in?), hence the aforementioned ease. Happy days!
We're now holed up in a tiny surf town called El Tunco. It's so small that you can walk a lap of the whole town in under five minutes, maybe six if you're decripid like me. Our hostel, la Sombre is a minute from the beach and if you hobble over the rocks to the western most point, you'll find a reknowned surf break called El Sunzal. That's where we've been spending our time!
We hired surfboards for $10USD (yes, back on the USD) per day (same price as our accomodation!) and have spent mornings and evenings flailing about in the white water attempting to surf! I'm bruised and achey but it's all been worth it even for just a few good rides per session. The waves are glorious right handers, hard to read but once tamed provide decent length and relatively safe rides. My back, arms, ribs and fat man's rash are killing me.
Everyone has fought the fearsome break with varying levels of success. Mike and I collided on a wave, yet somehow managed to escape unscathed. Cat's best wave saw her hit the beach without getting off her stomach (somewhat impressively I might add). And Char seemed to escape without too much drama on the board. We won't mention her getting stuck in a rip whilst swimming in the shallows. The unforgettable highlight for me was riding a wave over a sea turtle. Brave wee critter.
When the wind and chop get up during the heat of the day, we've been catching chicken buses into the main town (La Libertad) for groceries and banks. A quarter gets you on board and the ride itself is entertainment. Hot, noisy, jerky, claustrophobic, uncomfortable entertainment. Or something like that. But it's nice to pay peanuts for transport for a change. It's been up there with accommodation as our biggest expense to date! On one such occasion, MERC put on the runners for the journey. Heat almost brought us to ruin, yet we reached La Libertad in a state I wish upon nobody. I couldn't distinguish disgust from worry upon greeting the girls.
Lunch each day is pupusas. For around 50c-75c you can get a chicken and cheese filled pita. Well it looks like a pita but I'm fairly sure it's of corn derivative. Nonetheless they're delightful and three of the hot treats will fill the stomach of a hungry boy. Lunch for $1.50. Buen provecho! Come to mention it, why not pupuse for dinner too!?
The middle of the day is hot. You know, that muggy, still heat that doesn't relent and when you mix it with sun it's a recipe for heatstroke? In case you didn't know, I don't like that kind of heat very much, so we've been lazing in hammocks and by fans or taking dips in the 'pool'. The fully-clothed cold shower also a very appealing bi-daily activity.
Yesterday we foolishly chose to go for a walk in the afternoon heat. I made it to the bus stop - just - before turning to a liquid state. We bussed high up into the hills, found our stop and hired a tour guide off the side of the road. Antonio was a mumbler, just like me. I discovered that mumbling is not a comprehensible tongue, even between mumblers (yet I refuse to do anything about it). So we had very little idea what we'd signed up for except that we were paying this guy $3 a head and there was ample mention of 'cascadas' (waterfalls). That was good enough for us so we sweat our way down the valley to a series of rock pools/jumps. Add these to the aforementioned list of hot midday activities. A much needed cool off consisting of a series of rock jumps into different pools and a rock slide for the less boney bummed swimmer. It was a little sketchy but the locals showed us the ropes and we were away laughing - Cat taking the cake for the biggest pre-jump build in suspense. The uphill return wasn't as bad as expected, as Antonio was the least fit by far and set a delightfully slow pace, his sweat putting mine to shame. Him and I would make great friends.
Our ticket out of El Tunco was a chicken bus. Luckily Mike and Char set an alarm and woke up the sleeping beauties for the 6am bus! Very apprehensive about the journey, we stumbled out onto the road and awaited our chariot. Our destination: Juayúa, Ruta de las Flores.Read more
El Tunco, El SalvadorFebruary 28
Pupusas, chicken buses and smashing surf!