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El Salvador

2017 APRIL - EL SALVADOR - RUTA DE LAS FLORES LAST DAY

CANOPY TOUR BEFORE WE DEPART FOR GUATEMALA

sunny 26 °C

DAY 79 TUESDAY 25TH APRIL

ANZAC DAY - LEST WE FORGET.

Up earlish, had breakfast and then Lyn & I headed to the bus stop. We caught a chicken bus US$0.50 each to the village of Apaneca to do a spot of zip lining. We were early, by just under an hour but as we were the only ones booked to go in this time slot they took our money US$35 each, geared us up and loaded us into the back of a small truck, which had seats.

We drove up a nearby mountain for about 20 minutes. The dirt road way rough and steep and I was glad we did not have to walk up as the truck was struggling also. First photo was taken from a view point overlooking the village and surrounding cloud forest, then we had to climb close to 100 dirt steps to reach the first zip line. Not necessarily pros just yet, but as we have now done this a few times in various countries we sort of know what to expect and are not completely overtaken by fear.

The first 3 lines were a sort of practice run and I guess it shows the guides how experienced the rider is or how they react. I say guides because they numbered 8 plus the truck driver = 9! Before the start we were given a short safety talk that was translated to us by one of the guides that spoke very good English.

Zip lining is always great fun and although the platforms were not super high up in the trees, we did cross over a very high valley 3 times which was very high and gave us fantastic views.

We caught a couple of drops of rain but not enough to made any difference. Back at the office they showed us the photos one of our guides had taken as we had opted to purchase these instead of taking my camera and having to worry about it. For just US$10 we got 16 photos that they sent to my facebook page and we also received a dvd with the photos on. Fun time.

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Lyn & I walked back to the main street to wait for the bus and had to shelter under a shop awning as it had started to rain again a little heavier this time. 10 minutes and it was all over again and the road did not even look wet. Eventually a chicken bus came round and we flagged it down and were charged US$0.40c each for the return journey. Sometimes I think the driver or conductor is just too lazy to give us change, and we do not know the correct price of the fares. However they are very cheap even at the inflated gringo price.

Back at the hostel where Dolly was waiting for our return, we had a cup of tea/coffee then headed out to find some lunch. There were a lot of places closed so we had great difficulty in finding anywhere to eat. Settled for a pupusa stand and had 2 for US$1. Dolly not so impressed with our choice.

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Back at the hostel again and we had arranged for a guide to come and escort us to the local waterfalls. We had been advised that it was not particularly safe to go alone and there was a notice up in the hostel about some tourists who had gone alone and been robbed. Not sure if this was a tactic to hire a guide but at US$2 each it did not seem worth the chance. And we did not really know exactly the way anyway. So we set off from the hostel at about 3.30pm with the worlds shortest guide who did not speak a word of English and the 2 hostel dogs in tow.

It was supposed to be just a short distance but after about 25 minutes of walking and the track started to get very steep as it descended into a deep valley and Dolly decided she was not going to go any further in fear that she would not be able to back in back up the track. Our guide was not happy about leaving her on her own but had little choice but to continue on with Lyn & I. Unknown to us the guide had telephoned on his mobile to his brother who was nearby to come directly and look after Dolly. Of course none of this could be relayed to us due to the language barrier. Dolly informed us later that she got a hell of a fright when this bloke turned up carrying a machete and started to loiter around her after explaining himself in Spanish which of course she did not understand. He obviously got the vibe and stood watching her from a distance. It was not until we returned with the guide and he said it was his brother William that we understood what he had done.

Anyway Lyn & I continued on to the waterfalls and braved the very cold water for a cooling off dip. Yes it was fresh, but not unbearably so. It was a bit of a hike back up the hill, followed by the walk back into town. We were back at the hostel about 5.30pm, so about 2 hours later. We ended up giving the guide US$10 for his trouble and patience and for the fact that he had called his brother to watch out for Dolly.

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So it was a full day today, and we decided to go out for dinner as it was our last night in El Salvador as well. We went to one of the poshest restaurants in town and had a really nice meal. Probably the most flash restaurant we have been to all trip, and the bill for our 3 meals and beers came to just US$26.

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Tomorrow we have another chicken bus day as we depart El Salvador and move on into Guatemala.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 14:05 Archived in El Salvador Comments (0)

2017 APRIL - EL SALVADOR - RUTA DE LAS FLORES

THE FLOWER ROUTE

sunny 25 °C

DAY 76 SATURDAY 22ND APRIL

Poached eggs (cooked by the egg queen) for breakfast. This Casa has a share kitchen which is very nice, probably the best and cleanest kitchen we have seen in our travels so far. And the shower was hot water - wow we are really getting spoiled.

Juayua is one of the mountain villages which is on the Ruta de las Flores (The Flower Route) and every weekend has a food festival. I had read about this place before leaving home and it sounded like a good place to visit.

We headed out for a better look around town. There are lots of murals painted around the town. We had a walk through the market and a look into the church.
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I had read that there would be lots of exotic/unusual food on offer, but this was not the case. They are no longer allowed to offer iguana or armadillo or snake as these are now endangered and have been illegal to sell since 2014. The most exotic food we saw was one stall selling rabbit. There was not even a fried frog to be seen, these are still allowed but obviously not a popular seller. This weekend festival is not put on for tourists as we seemed to be the only non El Salvadorians in town.

A quick walk through to have a look at the food on offer at the food festival, meant returning to the hotel for some extra money and back out to eat lunch.

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On the way back to lunch a guy had a huge snake which you could hold and take photos for US$1. How could I resist??

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Most of the food on offer has a display plate with the price so you can see what you will get. When we tried to mix and match items on different dishes this was not acceptable. You must order what is on display.

Dolly went for a soup where the sign said Pato - which to me means duck - but ended up with tripe soup and was not impressed. Lyn and I shared a seafood cocktail and then I had a steak plate and Lyn had a pork ribs plate and we shared the meats. It was all priced around US$5-6, so not too bad.

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Although it was a little cooler last night, it's pretty hot again today, which meant we needed to stop for a beer during the day.

We chilled out at the Casa before heading out again in the afternoon for a short walk up the hill to look out over the town.

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DAY 77 SUNDAY 23RD APRIL

No aircon or even a fan in our room last night, but neither were needed as the air is cooler up here in the hills.

Another breakfast of Dolly's poached eggs which were a bit of a mess due to 'a crappy pan'. lol Well it was nice to have a change every now and then.

We hung around the hostel, in the morning, doing not much and a bit of washing. Lyn loves it here cause there is a line out in the courtyard where she can hang washing out in the sun, rather than in our room or on a balcony. Funny how little things make some people happy.

Time to head out and we decided on an excursion to a neighbouring town called Salcoatitan, on the Flower Route. It was only 2km down the road, so easy for us to walk. We had passed this town on the way up on the bus on Friday but as I was standing for this leg of the journey I did not see any of it or the road to it. Leaving Juayua was easy, just took the same road out as the buses were taking, and it was all down hill. Well all down hill until we met the uphill at the halfway mark and then it was 1km of up hill. Dolly was suitably unimpressed.

Finally reaching the top of the hill it was then just a short walk into the main street of Salcoatitan. One main street and that was about it really. We walked to through town to the far end taking photos of the many mosaics along the way.

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Our short walk was rewarded with by a giant cieba tree which is supposedly 300 years old. It was a magnificent specimen and we paused briefly to admire its splendour.

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By now it was time for a beer and we found a kiosk in the market place selling Goldens for US$1.25 each. We have decided Golden is our choice of beer for El Salvador, it does not even come close to our favourite Victoria Frost, but in Vikkies absence this is the best substitute we could find. Really we are up for any cold beer on a hot day, but have managed to find preferences in each country.

Lunch was going to be back in Juayua at the food festival and there was no way in hell that Dolly (or any of us) wanted to walk the short but hilly 2 km walk back. The bus passes by every 30 minutes, or a collective ute taxi was our best option to get back. We waited roadside for about 10 minutes when Dolly flagged down a ute that was not actually a taxi, it was just a family but they stopped and were willing to give us a lift. There were a couple of local girls standing at the bus stop with us and they were happy to get in the back of the ute, so we did too. It was only a less than 10 minute ride in the car and the driver was happy to give us the lift for free. The girls were waved off by him so we just walked away too. After thanking the driver of course.

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On the way to find some food I saw that the snake man was out again today and he had an albino python today, so I just had to have a hold. This snake was much bigger and heavier than the one yesterday.

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So lunch today was a better choices than made yesterday. Lyn had rabbit, which was a little tough because it was bbq when rabbit really needs to be stewed. Well at least we think it was rabbit, oddly enough the surrounding dogs that we fed our scraps to would not eat the bones from the rabbit that Lyn gave to them. I had pork ribs with a couple of the local sausages (which look a bit like dogs balls) which are made of pork and some other gritty stuff. They were ok, but the skin they were in was very thick so good chance it was intestine of some description. Dolly also had pork ribs - but not as we know them. The food was good and our meals were like US$6-7 each. And the Goldens at the food fare were only US$1.

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The rest of the afternoon we chilled out at the casa. Cocktail hour came and we cracked open a bottle of rum. We are drinking the good stuff now, Flor de Cana which we bought from the supermarket for US$7.99 a bottle. They don't seem to have there own rum here in El Salvador, so we are not able to get rum as cheap as the other countries we have travelled.
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Since we have a good share kitchen here, we have put Lyn back in to cook dinner. At least she got to break in her new apron.
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DAY 78 MONDAY 24th APRIL

No sleep in today we are off to visit 2 more villages on the Flower Route. The poached egg queen seemed to have retired already so we just had to have toast for breakfast.

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A very slow chicken bus took us for US$0.50c each the 18km along the winding mountain road to Concepcion de Ataco, another village on the Flower Route. This village is known for lots of murals painted on the outside of houses and shops. There were lots of tourists shops here too, but still we thought the prices were very expensive and most of the bric and brac we don't need or want or even have room to carry if we did want.

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On arrival we found a coffee shop attached to a hostel where we stopped and had a 'western' style coffee. It looked great and it was ok, but the milk here is all made from powdered milk so it just does not taste the same. But we really wanted to have a coffee since we are in the middle of El Salvador's major coffee growing area.

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We spent hours walking around the little town, must have walked up and down every street photographing all the colourful murals. The central park had amazing trees in it and we found a kiosk to have a beer and a little rest.

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Lunch was at a hamburger/hot dog stand in central park. It was pretty good, and very cheap at US$2 for a burger and a soft drink. And for the half an hour we sat there we made for great amusement for the by standing locals.

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From Ataco we took the chicken bus back to the town of Apaneca. This place does not have a great deal to offer, but it has the office of the company that Lyn & I want to do a canopy tour with tomorrow. I thought the hostel we are staying at was able to organize this for us but the young guy working there advised me (via google translate) that we need to go to the office ourselves and organize it direct with them. So there we were after doing a lap of the small town and not finding the office we did find the tourist office with a lovely helpful lady who did not speak a word of English. She gave a full and extensive directions to the office of which we understood nothing except the general direction with which she has pointed her arm.

We did eventually find the office and are booked in for 11.30 tomorrow.

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Back on the main street to get another chicken bus back to Juayua we missed the stop and saw the bus turn off down a street we were not on. Helpful local ladies advised we could get it further up on the main road and we walked to the bus stop and waited just a little while until another bus came along. US$0.40c each got us back to Juayua in record time as our chicken bus driver seemed to be on a mission to see if he could get this old bus up on 2 wheels while negotiating the corners of the mountain road. We were sliding around on the vinyl seats and holding on for dear live and to prevent ourselves from falling into the isle of the bus. It was not only us, all the other passengers were grasping with all their might to stay on the seats also.

There was a bright light and a clap of thunder which indicated that rain was not far away. Maybe the driver wanted to finish his shift before the rain started. It was just starting to slip with rain as we got off the bus and started walking towards our casa. A stop at the supermarket for dinner supplies delayed us enough for the rain to be coming down somewhat harder when we left the shop. It was only a couple of blocks to our casa and I ended up getting more wet from the water falling off the end of un guttered roofs than I did from the rain falling down. About 2 minutes after we were undercover it really started to come down so luckily we had missed the worst of it.

5pm and it was rum o'clock again. Lyn cooked us pork chops and vegies for dinner.
It is a lot cooler here tonight even though the rain only lasted less than an hour.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 21:15 Archived in El Salvador Comments (1)

2017 APRIL - EL SALVADOR

MORE TIME ON THE BEACH JUST A DIFFERENT LOCATION

sunny 30 °C

DAY 72 TUESDAY 18TH APRIL

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 21:52 Archived in El Salvador Tagged beach bus el chicken juayúa tunco Comments (1)

2017 APRIL - NICARAGUA TO EL SALVADOR

LAST DAY IN LEON THEN AN OVERNIGHT SHUTTLE TO A NEW COUNTRY #4

sunny 30 °C

DAY 66 WEDNESDAY 12TH APRIL

Our last day in Nicaragua was sunny and hot like all the previous days in this country have been. We checked out of the hostel at 11am, and then just hung out around the pool until it was time to go out for some lunch. We are allowed to stay at the hostel until 3pm, but we decided to move to the Blue Hat hostel after lunch and a last swim in the pool. The Blue Hat hostel is associated with the shuttle company we are travelling with tonight and they allow use of the hostel for passengers at no charge. Very generous considering the shuttle does not depart until 8pm.

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This will be our first overnight travel and we are not particularly looking forward to it, just there was no choice but to take the over night shuttle into El Salvador which delivers us to our next beach destination, El Cuco. Our only other option would have been a series of chicken buses which may have ended up slightly less expensive than the US$30 each but would have been a two day travel needing an overnight somewhere anyway. So will just have to suck it up, arrival time at 4am is not ideal either as check in is not until 2pm. Guarantee we will get sunbeds by the pool tomorrow.

Dolly & Lyn took our luggage in a taxi from Lazybones to Blue Hat. I walked as we are down to our last cordobas and only have enough for 2 passengers in taxi not 3. lol so I walked in the heat, it was only 20 minutes.

Blue Hat is nice, but they did not have triple rooms or a pool that is why we did not stay here. But it's nice that we can hang out here now. There is a Pali supermarket around the corner so after dropping the luggage and waiting for me to arrive, we walked around there for supplies. Lyn is cooking dinner for us before we go as we have access to the kitchen here.

We also purchased a couple of bottles of rum to take to our next destination and a six pack of cold beers to drink now. I did say it was hot.

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After our beverages, we walked back to the centre in search of a bank to get some more cash. ATM dispense US$ as well as cordobas and since El Salvador uses US$ we needed to stock up on some more money. I managed to get a chunk out yesterday, but bloody Citibank would not release another chunk to me today. Dolly managed to get some too so we should be set for our next 5 day stop which is away from ATM's.

On the way back to Blue Hat we stopped by ViaVia for one last icy Victoria Frost but they did not have any cold so not only did they miss out on the sale of a few bottles, but we missed out on a cold drink. Back at the hostel there were a couple of coldies waiting for us. I returned to the nearby supermarket for some more while Lyn cooked dinner.

So now we wait, fingers crossed the shuttle is not full and we are not shoved in like sardines for the next 8 hours.

See you in El Salvador!

DAY 67 THURSDAY 13TH APRIL

That was not a trip from hell, but it was its little brother!

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We crossed the Nicaragua/Honduras border somewhere around 11pm, I think. Our courier collected everyone’s passport along with US$8 each ($2 to depart Nicaragua, $3 to enter Honduras and his fee of $3). We were allowed out of the van to stretch our legs at the Nicaraguan exit border and the courier took our passports altogether to be stamped. Same procedure at the Honduras entry border, however we were told not to get out of the van as it was very dangerous and the doors were locked. The driver got out to go relieve himself behind a tree, but checked that our door was locked before he moved away from the van. That was a little spooky.

We are just passing through Honduras into El Salvador and the road was absolutely horrendous. If anyone had any thoughts about trying to have a sleep whilst sitting upright in a van these thoughts were smashed to smithereens as we weaved all over both sides of the road trying to avoid the massively potholed carriageway. It’s not the distance that takes the time to travel this route it is the condition of the road. Our driver tried to navigate a smooth path, unfortunately he was unsuccessfully as this was an impossible task, bonused with the added stress of animals (cows, horses and dogs) randomly standing, walking or crossing the road.

At the El Salvador border we again had to exit the van and this time we were given back our passports and had to line up to be stamped in. It was the middle of the night and there was just us here so it did not take long. My officer asked me a question in Spanish and just rolled her eyes when I said I did not speak Spanish. Must not have been too important as she just handed back my passport and motioned for me to move on.

We arrived in El Cuco at exactly 4am as advised with a total of about 3 minutes’ sleep each. The village was of course still asleep. The van stop was at Casa Canela where they dropped off 2 passengers who luckily were booked in to stay there. After a lot of door bashing and whistling someone was finally aroused enough to let them in. This was our stop too, but knowing we needed to go on further we were dropped at the taxi drivers house, who was also aroused after a bit of yelling and door bashing. He very kindly put 3 plastic seats out on the footpath for us to sit on until he was ready to take us to our accommodation. He advised our resort La Tortuga Verde (The Green Turtle) did not open until 6am so there was no point going just yet. So, we sat and waited, it was still pitch black.

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Next door to the taxi drivers home was the local village mill and this was a hive of activity at this time of the morning. Ladies walking in with tubs of unknown balanced on their heads and walking out with these tubs full of tortilla mixture. I had a bit of a nosy and could see dry ingredients and water being fed into a giant mincer type machine and out the bottom came the doughy tortilla mix. Probably these women are up every day at this hour to collect this to make the day’s tortilla, it was still dark.

Around 5am a bashed-up car pulled up and the taxi driver came out of the house so we realized this was our ride. We loaded up the heap and climbed in. It was not far, about 5km up a dirt road to our resort, which was still closed. Luckily there was a night security guard to reluctantly let us in after we paid the taxi fare of US$5. It was just

Unfortunately, the night guard could not find our reservation on his list, but reluctantly let us in after I showed him my print out of the reservation. All this was worked out without the assistance of a common language. There were a few day beds in the reception area which we were just about to crash on when he returned and showed us to some beds in a dorm room. We crashed! Lyn woke up at about 9am and we thought we should get up and see if we can get into our own room otherwise we may be charged for the dorm beds.

Of course, check-in was not until 3pm and the room was no chance of being ready before then because the occupants had a late 2pm check in. Great.

We had little choice but to hang around the cabana area which we were soon evited from as they were all pre-booked by day trippers. We ordered breakfast and ate it, found hammocks and vegged out for the rest of the day. The resort filled up around us with literally hundreds of locals all come to have a good time at the beach. There was music, food (that was purchased from the resort – no outside food or drink allowed to be brought in) and everyone having a good time. We were still shattered and by the time the afternoon came I had a migraine coming on.

At 2pm I asked about our room and it was still being occupied. At 3pm I asked about our room and was told it would be ready in 10 minutes. At 3.30pm I asked about our room and was told it was being cleaned as we spoke. At 3.32pm I lost it and spat the dummy – migraine had kicked in by now. Requested they come find us when the room was ready. At 3.40pm Byron (an American staff member) found me and showed me to a room with one double bed. Keep calm, keep calm. My head was throbbing, I was ready to throw up and the room we had been waiting for was the wrong room anyway. He left and Lyn gave me some good headache pills which started to do the trick almost immediately. Byron advised he would be back with the correct room key.

We waited a good 15 minutes and when we looked around the corner we saw Byron was talking to a couple of familiar faces. Well familiar to me anyway, recognition for Lyn did not kick in straight away when we spotted Toni & Shawn Lemon. Toni and I had conspired back in Australia to meet up here where both our travels crossed as a birthday surprise for Lyn. Well it was definitely a surprise as Toni was hugging her hello before the light bulb finally come on and Lyn realized this was people we knew in the last place we expected to see them.

Finally we were shown to our room and then spent the rest of the afternoon/evening catching up with the Lemons.

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Cocktails and sunset on the beach.

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DAY 68 FRIDAY 14TH APRIL

===GOOD FRIDAY===

We spent the day with the Lemons and some of the other pax from the Intrepid Tour they are on. Us and this tour are following a similar path but going in opposite directions, us north and them south. It only took a little bit of planning for Toni & I to find a common location where our paths would cross. It was just lucky that it coincided within a day of Lyn's birthday, so birthday celebrations are a day early as the they move on tomorrow.

It was a fun day!

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It was interesting to observe the contrast between us travellers and tourists doing a tour. We are visiting many of the same places - following the common gringo trail through Central America - but we will have totally different experiences. Our travel is much slower to start with, using public transport that we have to wait for and organize our time around and I have the wonderful task of having to find us a bed to sleep in every night. Although I must admit with the internet this is now a lot easier than it used to be, we now always have a booking to go directly to, I don't have to scout for a room on arrival at our destination. Thank goodness because after 4 hours in a chicken bus the last thing I want to do is walk around trying to find us a room. But sometimes I think it would be nice to be collected at the door front door of one hotel and delivered to the front door of the next one, but I guess that is what you pay for. I'm not knocking tours, if you have limited time and enough money they are a great option as you will be taken to all the sights and shown to a bed every night. An organized tour would never be my first choice but if there is one on offer that delivers what I am after for a price I am will to pay then I will definitely book a tour. EG trip through Burma at end of my last travels in 2015.
These guys on the tour here, have and will do many more activities than we will do, but our budget for a longer trip makes us have to pick and choose extra paid activities. Must admit our much slower pace and multi night stops suit me much better, as does not having to get up for a 5am transfer.

DAY 69 SATURDAY 15TH APRIL

===EASTER SATURDAY===

HAPPY BIRTHDAY LYN!

The resort is pumping today. We met the "Tom" the owner of La Tortuga Verde this morning, he was sitting in reception when we come to try and get internet. He said to us they? will not give him good internet at this location. I said to him you need to throw some money at the right people (which he can well afford as the place was packed already and he was charging the day trippers an entrance fee), with this he walked away in haste and we never saw him again. Hid in his office no doubt counting all the money we was raking in for this Easter holiday weekend.

Anyway there was nowhere for us to sit as all the cabanas had been pre booked or were taken up by customers who arrived before we went next door for breakfast. There was easily a couple of hundred people at the resort and spilling out to the beach where they had a huge stage set up and what looked like a football tournament happening. Tents selling drinks and snacks were set up on the beach as well. We thought it best to have a walk down the beach and leave it to them.

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It was hot and after walking for about 30 minutes it was time for a beer and we stopped at a little local shack on the beach, which we thought would be cheap. As it turns out they were no cheaper for beers than our resort prices, although I think more they were taking advantage of the gringos more than anything. But the view was good and we sat and enjoyed the cool beer.

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After our drinks we walked a little further up the beach and stopped for a swim in the ocean to cool our outsides. We took turns at going in the water as there seemed to be a lot of people about and we did not want to leave our belongings unguarded on the beach.

By the time we had walked to the far end of the beach, the town beach, we could hardly believe our eyes. If we thought is was crowded back at the resort, well this had nothing on the amount of people in and out of the water at the town beach. Never in all my life of visiting numerous beaches all over the world have I ever seen so many people. There were food and drink tents set up along the beach which were all packed full of literally 100's of people and there was another couple of hundred in the water. Us 3 walking up the middle of this lot we stood out like dogs balls, especially since we were in swimmers and the locals, men, women & children alike, all swim in the ocean fully clothed. We don't quite understand it, but not one person besides us was in a swimming costume.

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We stopped for another beer and managed to get gringo ripped off again so decided to start making our way back the 2.5 km back to the resort.
Another stop halfway back for a swim.
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Back at our resort the entertainment was still well underway with singing and dancing on the huge stage.

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Dolly was exhausted after the days big walk and tried to get a lift in a wheelbarrow back to our room.

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We hid out in our air con room until it was time to go next door for some dinner. By the time we returned from dinner the crowds had all gone home and it was quiet.

DAY 70 SUNDAY 16TH APRIL

===EASTER SUNDAY===

Today we had another day of doing absolutely nothing!

The crowds were still here, so most of the day we hung out in our air-con room reading books. It was a very lazy day, didn’t even make it to the ocean for a swim.

Hunger forced us out of our room at around 4pm and we walked the short distance to the house a few doors up to have some food. The lady there (who speaks absolutely no English, so we order via sign and sound language) is so happy to see us and the food is tasty and cheap. Lyn and I had a whole fish each and Dolly had chicken, all served with rice, tomato and a slice of avocado. The three meals plus 3 beers and a couple of cokes (that were mixed with our bring your own rum) came to a total of US$21.

During the meal we sat watching the TV which the lady had set up for us and given us reign of the remote. Not much in the way of English channels, we watched the last 20 minutes of Jaws 2 in Spanish. We all knew the story and the shark was not doing much talking anyway– entertaining enough. Next up came Robocop 2. Awesome! Not that Robocop was an awesome movie but it was in English! We had finished dinner, Dolly had scabbed a biscuit from one of the owner’s young sons and next thing we knew she came out with coffee for us all and a biscuit each, to have while we finished watching the movie. Lovely lady. As we were waiting to pay the bill, she was whispering to a teenage girl then walked up to us and said in English, ‘thank you for coming!’ Beautiful, it’s times like this that not speaking the language is missed the most, as it would be so nice to be able to chat with this woman.

It was dark by now and the walk back to our room revealed most of the day trippers had left and the place was in silence again. I wonder if Easter Monday is going to be a big day as well?

At around 9pm we heard fireworks and from our front door could see them being let off up the beach. We had a pretty good view and they went for about 15 minutes, so a decent amount of money wasted. I’m guessing they were up near where all the locals had been on the beach.

DAY 71 MONDAY 17TH APRIL

===EASTER MONDAY===

Today we were up and out at an almost reasonable time to go for breakfast, only to discover our backyard restaurant was closed. The big wooden doors to the property were closed and there was no sign of anyone. Bugger! Let’s hope she is open for dinner.

We had heard there was another place further up the street on the left so we decided to have a little walk and see if we could find it. Find it we did, but was also not functioning. Luckily there were a couple of small stores where we could buy some supplies to take back to our room where we have limited cooking facilities and make breakfast. We purchased 6 eggs, 8 small dinner rolls, 1 litre of coke (for the rum later) and 3 cookies (for the coffee & tea later) & 2 small tomatoes, which came to a grand total of US$2.50.

The Egg Poaching Queen (aka Dolly) cooked us up some lovely poached eggs which we ate with the little rolls.

There are hardly any cars in the carpark today and the one across the road was empty so I say today is not a party day and it may be a little less crazy here today. We need to find someone who can speak English and has the information for us to get a bus to our next destination, because tonight is our last night here at La Tortuga Verde.

Today we are doing a cull! Culling all excess clothing. Clothes we have not worn or clothes we are sick of wearing or clothes we are sick of carrying. Shame we did not think of this yesterday when the crowds were here as we could have set up a clothing stall and made a bit of beer money. I guess the house maid is going to get a bonus and hopefully they will all go to a good home and not just get tossed in a bin.

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For our first swim we headed to the beach at about 12.30pm. It was deserted, gone were the Easter crowds. The tide was out and it was a fair old hike to even get to the water. The water temp was warm as usual and there was quite a strong pull out. We stayed in long enough to cool off then headed for a spare cabana where I took up residence in a hammock while Lyn and Dolly chose a sunbed each in out in the sunshine. It was not long before they needed another cooling and we entered the water again. Before we knew it the rum was calling and it was time to head back to our room to water our insides.

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Lyn went to the shop to get a couple of potatoes that we were able to cook up for lunch with some canned sardines. By this time we were well into the rum.
I spent the afternoon catching up on some finance work while the others read books. By this time we were well into the rum. Yes repeat.

Come 5pm and there was a suggestion for another swim, which we all agreed was a good idea. By this time we were well into the rum.
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After our swim and a chat with just about anyone and everyone on the beach we discovered we had missed the 4.30 – 6.30 happy hour, as it was 6.40pm. We managed to talk our way into getting 2 for 1 pina coladas (not that we needed any more rum) and everyone was happy.

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Byron bribed us into giving him a tumbler of our rum in exchange for bus information, surely this information should be given for free? By this time we were well into the rum. And we asked him to write us a note to our restaurant lady saying we had some clothes that we no longer needed that she may want.

We enjoyed the happy hour cocktails, there only seemed to be the volunteer staff at the bar besides us. On the way out to dinner we stopped at the reception to asked for our bill to be tallied up to be collected later.

Stopped off at the room to get the 2 bags of excess clothes and walked a couple of doors up to our backyard restaurant. We gave the note and the 2 bags to our lady and she was over the moon. I’m so glad we thought to give the stuff to her instead of just leaving for the cleaning staff. She kept thanking us and even modelled a few items. What a gem.

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I think she have us a discount on our meals tonight as only charged us US$10 for 3 chicken dinners. It was hugs goodbye after I said we were leaving tomorrow.

I collected our bill from reception, seems to be all in order. We need to be out on the road tomorrow by 8am to catch the bus out.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 20:48 Archived in El Salvador Tagged nicaragua el trails leon shuttle gekko cuco Comments (1)

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