One Country in Four Stops: El Salvador
We walked through the front door and into a sermon. The preacher paused from her impassioned message when she saw us. The congregation looked at us expectantly. We had walked through the wrong door and we had nowhere to hide. I was about to slowly back out of the room when the preacher started introducing us as her motorcycling Canadian guests. What?!? As she asked our names Phil slowly used his hand to cover the logo on his t-shirt, the one he’d been given from the Cancun “666” Biker Bar.
After crossing the border from Guatemala we headed to the city of Sonsonate to our couchsurf with Francisco and his family. Turns out his mum holds Christian services in their front room/garage twice a week.
Our first couple of days in El Salvador were spent with the wonderful Golcher family. Elizabeth, Francisco, his younger sister Kenny and their 9 turtles became our family too.
We reluctantly tried to leave the next afternoon, we bid our tearful goodbyes, and rode down the road, but two minutes later the skies opened, and we turned around.
That evening we went for a dinner of the local El Salvadorian specialty, papusas. We were joined by Elizabeth’s brother, who was in town visiting from the USA.
Papusas are handmade tortillas, stuffed with cheese and other fillings. They are then fried to scalding temperatures before being served with a thin tomato based sauce. They are delicious!!
Six of us ate and drank for the equivalent of $11.
The next day we left in the morning so as to avoid the afternoon rains. We’re trying to get used to the reality of rainy season.
We took the fun twisty coastal road down to El Sunzal. While surfing in Mexico 5 months ago we met Martine and Tommy, a Dutch couple who recommended that we stop at the Surfer’s Inn in El Sunzal when we made it down to El Salvador. They even gave us a note.
We love advice from people in the know, so that is exactly what we did.
The waves on the El Salvador coast while we were there were much bigger (6-11 feet) than I would ever consider attempting to surf, but Phil was un-deterred.
I found Phil looking reminiscent of a drowned rat in a hammock. Turns out that after the very long paddle out to the break, he got hit by a wave, and the leash pulled out of of the board. Phil found himself 200 meters out to sea, without a paddle (or a surfboard).
A very long swim back to shore resulted in his passing out in the hammock where I found him. Luckily someone found the board when it was washed in to shore and put it against a wall for him.
The wonderful family who own the Surfer’s Inn had given us a huge room with four double beds in it for $10 a night. They even said we could keep our motorbikes in it if we wanted! (We didn’t.) There was one other person staying at the Inn, an American called Stephen.
It was really hot, as we walked down the beach we all wanted desperately to jump in the water. Unfortunately the waves were just too ferocious. As we walked towards El Tunco we came across a beach club with a beautiful pool. Stephen and I jumped in, but Phil didn’t quite make it before making eye contact with the armed guard storming towards us. Needless to say, we didn’t spend long in that pool.
We went into town and got lunch. While we were at lunch we looked over and who was sitting at the table across from us? Northern Irish Jeff from our Spanish school, and his girlfriend Heather who we had not yet met. It’s a small world!
After lunch we renewed our efforts to find a pool to cool off in. Stephen remembered a pool in a hostel he’d visited the other day and so we headed there.
We walked through the reception area like we owned the place and the small, slightly grimy pool looked like heaven to us. We ended up in that pool all afternoon. Even when some real residents of the hostel joined us, they didn’t mind us interlopers.
We had to keep going towards Managua, so we left the next morning to head towards San Salvador. Just as Phil pulled out of the gate, a large motorcycle (Honda Veradero) with an enormous amount of luggage drove by. He radioed me to hurry and took off after the bike.
He flagged over the biker, and that is how we met fellow Canadian, 62 year old Al. Al is on a 10 year, round the world trip. He also sounds exactly like Adam West. We baptized him “Batman”.
We adopted Batman and brought him with us to meet Mario, our host who we met through ADVrider.com (Marior97). Mario had agreed to let us stay on his coffee plantation which is located on the side of a volcano.
Mario met us on his BMW and led us to the coffee plantation. He was concerned about how big and heavy our bikes were, rightly so it turned out.
The road up to the plantation was very steep and rocky. Batman dropped his bike a couple of times. Unfortunately it’s so heavily loaded that he needs help to pick it up. Luckily there were plenty of us there to help.
We left out bikes about halfway up the hill, before it got REALLY steep, and walked up the rest of the hill to the house.
We had a lovely evening with Mario and his family. We BBQ’d and chatted the night away.
Mario came back the next morning to show us the way out via the crater of the volcano.
I am still suffering from panic when riding offroad, and Mario kindly rode my bike over the difficult parts for me.
It took quite a while to get down the hill and off the dirt road. Batman dropped his bike again… In one of the drops Batman bent his bike’s crashbars and broke a clamp.
The ride up to the crater was fantastic.
When we got up to the crater, Phil, Batman and I walked the trail up to the viewpoints.
Mario bought us all lunch before he had to return to family duties. What a stellar guy!
Batman had decided to join us on our double border day, when we were going to cross into, and out of, Honduras in one day.
We decided to stay overnight in San Miguel, so we would be close to the border in the morning.
We found a hotel, it was more expensive than we wanted to pay, but Batman was tired and offered to pay for it in return for us helping him across the borders and helping him to get his crash bar fixed when we got to Nicaragua.
Next day: Double border crossing of some of the most difficult and corrupt borders in the world.