MORE TIME ON THE BEACH JUST A DIFFERENT LOCATION
18.04.2017 - 21.04.2017 30 °C
DAY 72 TUESDAY 18TH APRIL
Today we left El Cuco and move further north up the coast of El Salvador to another beach location El Tunco. No mean feat arriving here in one piece either.
Byron had advised us to be at the gate by 8am as that was the time the bus we needed to catch would pass the resort. True to his word the bus came barrelling down the dirt road and stopped in front of us at 8.05am. The conductor was hanging out of the door yelling San Miguel, San Miguel. As luck would have it that is where we needed to go. The fare for this chicken bus was US$4.15 for us and our bags.
Most of the road way to San Miguel was dirt so we had a choice of having the windows closed and cooking in the heat, yes it was already very hot even at this early hour, or open the windows and cop a gob full of dust from the bus stopping and starting along the dirt road. It was a catch 22. Just on a hour later we arrived in San Miguel and were dropped outside the next bus station we need to carry on our trip. Look for bus 305 the conductor told me.
We had about a 30 minute wait until our bus arrived. Lyn and Dolly pushed their way on board to secure seats as there was a big line up to get on this bus to the capital. I assisted with getting our luggage stored below in the hull of the bus. This bus ride to San Salvador too just over 2 hours and cost US$9 for the 3 of us and luggage. This chicken bus left at 10.20am. We drove through the capital and I was thankful that we were not stopping. The El Salvador capital is supposed to be one of the most dangerous cities in Central America.
Again arriving at another bus terminal, with our limited Spanish and their limited English a group of taxi drivers advised us we needed to transfer to another bus station. We did recall Byron saying something about this so we had little choice but to believe them. I asked the taxi driver how much (it's essential to establish an fare amount before agreeing to a taxi ride), he asked for US$15. We laughed and Lyn held up her hand saying cinco (five) and at first he said no until I started to approach another driver and then he agreed. Silly really, these blokes should realize they have us over a barrel and can ask anything, but he seemed happy with the offer of US$5, which means he was still charging us more than he would a local.
The taxi ride was about 20 minutes through city traffic so we were more than happy with the price we paid. Just as we reached the mini bus station a bus was about to depart and the security guard with a large gun ushered us hurriedly towards it. So no waiting here, the fare was US$1.50 each but we had to pay the same for our bags which were put on a seat, no luggage hull. So last leg which departed at 1.45pm cost a total of US$9.
Just a short ride, about 40 minutes and the driver advised us to get of when we had reached El Tunco Beach. So, we departed El Cuco at approximately 8am, 2 chicken buses, 1 taxi and 1 minibus later at approximately 2.30pm (7 1/2 hours) we arrived in El Tunco for a total cost of US$27.15 - I love travelling. These days although tiring, are ground roots travel, we sit with the locals, hopefully pay the same fares and enjoy the passing scenery.
So now we are by the side of the highway, across the road we see a list of El Tunco hotel signs pointing down the side street, but of course ours is not listed. A lovely lady crosses the road and in English asks us if we need help. Yes of course we do, thank you. I tell her the name of the hotel, which she does not know, but she grabs Dollys suitcase and starts wheeling it down the road. It will be this way she says to us. Little option but to follow her, we do and at the first hotel she stops and asks directions. Our hotel is about 500 metres down the road and she escorts us, still wheeling Dolly's suitcase and deposits us at the reception with a passing goodbye and enjoy El Tunco. We are almost always sceptical about the people who stop to help, but on this occasion like many others, this lovely lady just wanted to help. Unfortunately, it's the one or two helpers who try to rip us off that make us so suspicious of people offering help. It's a sad fact, but we have to keep our wits about us with everyone until they are proved to be trustworthy.
So our hotel, Eco Del Mar, is the most expensive place we have paid for so far @ US$73.85 per night and on entering the room it shows. This place is nice and a little treat for us. Air con, TV (no English channels :-( ) and there is a little pool. Kitchenette with mini toaster oven and a sitting area, very posh for us.
El Tunco beach is a bit of a let down, good surfer location but its a bit rocky and rough for us to venture into the water. Lots of the surrounding shops and restaurants are closed today, maybe recovering from the Easter weekend. We find a place to get some food and have an ok burger, although Dolly's fish and chips are shite.
It's hot and the air con room is very welcoming. Although all we can find on the TV is a flash back music channel which suits us ok too.
DAY 73 WEDNESDAY 19TH APRIL
Another hot sunny day in El Salvador. Sometimes I need to pinch myself to realize we are on the other side of the world in El Salvador, can you believe it.
We had a walk around town and beach and a swim in the hotel pool today.
A few beers and lunch out looking at the ocean view. It's nice and quiet here, not too many people around although a few more shops etc are open today.
We returned to the beach for the sunset, which disappointingly was not over the water, but still enough to draw a bit of a crowd to enjoy the light.
DAY 74 THURSDAY 20TH APRIL
Seriously, if we relax anymore we shall become comatose!
The hotel staff knocked on our door this morning to advise that breakfast was included in our room tariff. News to us, but bring it on.
So typical El Salvadorian breakfast is the same as everywhere else in Central America, scrambled eggs with capsicum, beans, cheese and tortillas. No not yet sick of this breaky, over pancakes but can still eat this with glee.
We sat around today polishing off a bottle of rum, as you do! Did actually make it out to have some dinner and a few beers, like we needed them!
DAY 75 FRIDAY 21ST APRIL
Time for us to move on again. All this bludging around at the seaside is making us very lazy, so today we are heading to the hills again. Another 100 odd kilometres which took us all day to transverse.
After investigation on the internet and asking the hotel staff here, we sort of worked out that the bus we needed to catch left La Libertad (which is just 10 minutes up the road) at either 1pm, 1.30pm or 2pm. So to be on the safe side we made sure we were waiting up on the main road early enough for the first departure time. There are only 2 buses per day from La Libertad to Sonsonate, the first one at 6am - which we would not even attempt to catch - and then one in the afternoon. So we had to be on the afternoon bus.
This gave us enough time to have a sleep in, a leisurely breakfast at the hotel, a bit of a walk around and then a swim in the hotel pool before dragging our bags up to the main road. We were up there in plenty of time by 12.30pm.
After only about 15 minutes wait a chicken bus stopped and although it was not the number I had written down, when I showed the conductor our destination he nodded yes and helped load our bags. We had no idea if there was another bus or not. It turns out this guy obviously could not read as he motioned for us to get off the bus just 15 minutes up the beach thinking we wanted Playa Sunzal not Sonsonate! Most definitely my pronunciation was incorrect, but I think his reading skills were lacking also. Anyway we got a short bus ride for US$1 for the 3 of us and a more shady place to wait on the side of the road for the correct bus.
Next bus we got on will be #287. So we waited, and waited, and waited. Lots of chicken buses passing us but none the one we wanted. Timing wise I think the bus left La Libertad at 1.30pm as the bus we wanted slowed down to pick us up at 2pm. Us and some others also now waiting at the same bit of road we were. Only problem was, the bus the stopped was already full. And by full I mean passengers were already standing on the front and back exit steps. How the hell were we going to get on. The other passengers waiting with us, of course scrambled aboard as they had no luggage to contend with. So we just went to the front door and waited until the people inside squashed up even more and finally made room for us. Dolly was on first with her bag and she made it to the top of the front steps, I was not so lucky and spent the first 30 minutes of the journey on the second step trying to hold on desperately to my bag and trying desperately not to fall our of the door as the bus driver drove without braking around the winding coastal road. Lyn and her bag were taken to the back door of the bus and all I could see as we departed the stop was her hat so I was relieved she did make it on. But truthfully, I think these bus guys live by the motto - no one gets left behind.
Slowly but surely the bus emptied, and our positions became a little safer and more comfortable. The last hour of this 2 hour ride had us all comfortable seated. This 2 hour exciting bus ride cost us US$1.50 each. That was just phase one.
We arrived in Sonsonate bus station just after 4pm and I suggested we go and have some food before we attempted the next leg. I knew the buses to our next and final destination departed every 30 minutes. We found a beautifully air conditioned Pollo Campero (chicken junk food chain) and had some chicken to eat. It was lovely to sit in the cool air and recover from that last bus ride.
At about 5pm we returned to the bus station and found the line up for our next bus to Juayua. We waited about 30 minutes before our bus pulled into its stand. God knows why everyone bothered to line up cause soon enough it was just a free for all with the bus conductor urging everyone to scramble aboard. We moved slowly up the line and it soon became obvious that all the seats in the bus were taken and some people were starting to line up for the next bus. The conductors spied us with our luggage and made a signal to head to the back of the bus so we could load our bags. We managed to get on the now very full bus that was standing room only. Dolly managed to wangle a seat, and old lady stood up for me to sit but I refused. Lyn and I stood the whole way, but it was only about 30 minutes after the initial 30 minutes getting out of the city traffic. This bus ride cost us US$0.50c each.
Todays travel of just over 100 km, cost us a total of US$7.00 for the 3 of us, and a few grey hairs. We left our hotel in El Tunco at 12pm and arrived at Casa Mazeta at about 6pm.
From the bus stop we had to walk about 8 blocks through town to Casa Mazeta, where we have a triple room with private bathroom for US$30 per night. I have booked us here for 4 nights.
Dropped of the bags then back out to find a beer, which of course we did. Golden US$1.25. It is a little cooler out here at night, being in the hills and all.
We also found a supermarket from where we purchased supplies for a sandwich dinner, since we'd had the chicken meal so late. And we found a bottle of pina/coco juice, which went very nice with the last bottle of rum that I was still carrying.