Onwards and Downwards to El Salvador
We were not only sad to leave Antigua, a place we had come to love, but we were also leaving a certain degree of certainty and reassurance and familiarity.
Back then, to the daily unknown that this nomadic travelling is!
We were discussing it this morning, and while we are having the best time of our lives, this trip, these daily challenges and not knowing what lies ahead of us is one of the most difficult things we have ever done …more difficult than 5 years at Matahana (and those of you who know us will know what we mean by that!).
We left early at 6am to not only beat the pre Christmas crowds at the border but also the heat. We didn’t escape either!
Susie had also got up at this time to say goodbye to us ...we are really going to miss these guys!
Arriving the Guatemalan side at 8:30am it was already 28 degrees and there was a line of trucks 10kms long! We kid you not 10 KMS!!! We had to overtake the line of trucks on the wrong side of the road and pull over if something was coming the other way. At times we hit a snarl up on both sides and we had to weave and squeeze our bikes between trucks and cars through ditches and over rough terrain, while we were doing this a guy in a blue polo shirt on a shiny new bike ducked in front of us and started to direct and show us a quick way through. By the time we had parked up in a very convenient place next to immigration it acme apparent he wasn’t an offical but a helper/fixer. We looked at the incredibly long line and it kind of became a no brainer …especially in the heat. He must have saved us a good 2 hours in time and for the price of two drinks in a bar!
The El Salvador side was easier and less hectic/crowded but still a wait. Luckily they had an air conditioned office to wait in. You know it is hot somewhere when the aircon is set to cool at 25 degrees!
All up we were on our way within 2.5 hours.
The roads on the El Salvador side were good and the scenery beautiful and green. There were significantly less motorbikes and more bicycles and very few people in native dress compared to Guatemala.
We rode inland for 40kms or so and then the road (route 2) snaked along the coast.
We had (once again!) missed out on breakfast and stopped at an open air restaurant on top of the cliffs. The waiters were pretty much standing in the middle of the road waving menus and flagging passing motorists down. It turned out to be a place specialising in seafood and we had an enormous ceviche and 3 of the biggest and tastiest prawns ever! The funny thing is that we inadvertently ordered 3 dishes instead of two and an extra serving of deep fried prawns came out!!! Guess those Spanish lessons were a complete waste of time.
The views were spectacular and best of all there was an amazing and cooling seabreeze.
Our destination for the evening was El Tunco, a surf Mecca on the coast. We hadn’t planned to stay here but Saulo from the Guatemala CB500X had said it was a lovely beach and we should go here …so we did.
I think it was 32 degrees when we got to where we were staying and we had to lug our bags up and down several flights of stairs. The sweat was literally pouring off us. We could see the sea so dumped our bags and clothes, put on togs and headed that way.
We reached a pool first …sploosh!!!
Not really our thing we moved on after 2 days further along the coast.
We passed through some beautiful and hectic towns and all the people seemed genuinely happy to see us and the bikes got admiring looks and whistles.
We stopped for lunch at a roadside cafe overlooking Volcan San Miguel and ordered an El Salvador speciality called Pupusas. They are very similar to the Mexican Gorditas that we have talked about previously but with more cheese! Always a good thing, more cheese!
In the afternoon we got snarled in a traffic jam in a particuallay hot part of the country where the temperature gauge on the bike got up to 48 degrees C (it was 38 degrees in the shade at this point). We had every vent on our protective clothing open and were concentrating very hard on all things "cool" instead of letting ourselves dwell too much on how blardy hot it was!
There are a lot more stock next to the side of the road in El Salvador and towards the end of the afternoon we passed a herd of cows just wandering down the main road by themselves!
We got into our accomodation at around 5pm. It took a bit of finding down some rough and litter strewn back roads of town but it was very cheap at only $35NZD and clean and comfortable and more importantly had secure parking for the bikes and air conditioning.
We parked the bikes up next to the chicken coup and wondered if this could be a problem early in the morning.
Nar... it was a problem all night as the cockerels had a "crow off" with all the neighbourhood cockerels every time the moon came out from behind a cloud ...this then set off the neighbourhood strays too. Oh you have to laugh because it was actually really quite funny!
On a side note... you hear a lot of negative things about El Salvador not being safe, but the places we passed through felt great, especially the more southern part which was very friendly.