We rolled on into El Salvador where the scenery didn’t seem to change much from the Guatemala side. After only ten or fifteen minutes we were at the turn off to El Imposible national park and we decided to head up to check it out.
The road got bumpy on the uphill sections as they have laid rocks in the road to help with traction on the climbs.
We found a Hostal called El Imposible Hostal and booked in for the day unloaded the bike and headed up to the park to hike around.
The park fee was $6.00us per person and $1.00 parking for the park and to hire a guide cost us another $7.00. The guide fee seemed a little pricey but I wasn’t about to argue over a few dollars.
We headed off with our guide Orlando who only spoke spanish so we not only got out sight seeing in for the day but our daily spanish lessons too. The park visit only lasted about two hours and we basically walked to the look out point that is called a “mirador” in spanish and took in the vista from above the park.
We left El Imposible in the morning and headed off to ride around Lago de Coatepeque and then to find accommodations nearby the park Cerro Verde where we will hike the Santa Ana volcano and explore the park.
The lake was a pretty place with many nice homes dotting the shorelines and we stopped to admire the views from many different lookout points around the lake.
At out last stop we sat and relaxed while an older local gentleman was restringing his guitar. After he was done replacing his strings he said to me “bueno moto” and we begun to try and converse. I used up all the one hundred or so spanish words that I know and after a few good laughs together about my language skills he asked if he could play his guitar for us. He told me the name of the song he was going to play was called La Bomba and of course everyone knows La Bomba…La La Bomba, La La Bomba……. so as he played and sang with an incredible voice I played the lap drums along with him. He recognized I could actually keep a beat and he and I got into a full grove of beats and strums. I sang along the coarse “La, La Bomba” with him as the rest of the song was in spanish and we had a great time jamming out on the side of the gorgeous lake Coatepeque. After another song he had his new guitar strings fully in tune and left us with a warm smile off to serenade the restaurant guests siting at the nearby restaurants.
It was our time to head off aswell and we rode back towards the Cerro Verde park on the lookout for somewhere to stay for the night. We noticed a sign pointing down and off the beaten road that had the words “cabanas” on it so off we went to see what we could find. The road turned to dirt track which included rocks and mud and I was thankful for my off road tires.
We arrived to this very tranquil spot in the middle of nowhere surrounded by coffee farms and booked a cabana. The cabana cost us $40.00us for the night and is very basic with no luxuries. We didn’t think to bring any food with us out here and fortunately the woman that owns the cabanas offered to cook us some dinner and even had some cold beer and water for us to purchase.
There was some other cabanas on the property and we went wandering around the hills admiring the sights.
We had a nice fire and a few cold $0.75 beers.
Tomorrow we will head to Cerro Verde park and hike the Santa Ana Volcano which is the highest volcano in El Salvador standing 7812 feet above sea level.
Right on time the young lady delivered our tipico breakfast a cup of hot chocolate and a stack of the best hand made tortillas we have eaten on the entire trip. El Salvadorians do tortillas best we have decided always thick, fresh and usually piping hot when they hit the table….very tasty!
We packed up our things and took the short five minute drive back out the tricky dirt road and up to the Cerro Verde park. We arrived and joined a rather large tour group of around fifteen to twenty other tourists wanting to summit the Santa Ana volcano today. It is mandatory that you hire a guide for this hike and also accompanying the group is a police officer in case of banditos I could only assume. The hike is two hours up to the top and costs $3.00 per person for park entry fee, $1.00 each for the guide, $1.00 collected along the trail to pass through some farm lands and a $2.00 donation is asked for halfway up. It wasn’t all expensive but there certainly were a few “hands out” along the way.
The hike starts out pretty easy and as you progress closer to the summit it starts to get steeper of course.
Some fitness level is required as the volcano top turns into scree trails and for the last twenty minutes or so it’s rock and roll up to the top at 7800 feet above.
We weren’t prepared for the sights we would see once arriving at the top. We had done no research prior to hiking Santa Ana and the sheer beauty at the volcanoes top took us by surprise and left us awestruck.
The lake below us was boiling hot and you see the lake bubbling and steaming. We were told that the lake is 100 degrees celsius so unless you were an egg swimming was not recommended.
We sat and admired the picturesque sights for about an hour and took some pictures. Usually the nearby lake Coatepeque can be seen from the top here but today the bands of clouds that blanketed the volcano made it hard to see off into the distance.
We however didn’t mind being in the cool mist of the clouds and it was refreshing after a long hot climb up. The climb down took a little less time as it usually does but by the end of the total four hour hike my old legs were telling me they had just about had enough. We grabbed a quick bite to eat before gearing up and rolling out towards San Salvador where there was a water park that we had intended to check out called Los Chorros.
When we rolled up to the gates of the park it was closed for the day and I wasn’t too excited about backtracking a ways to locate a hotel in the dusty nearby city of Colon so we made a quick change of plans and rode west towards La Liberdad and over to the small nearby surf town of El Tunco.
We grabbed a room at Hotel Morelia for $25usd a night which included a pool and all the hammocks needed for a relaxing few days. Well the relaxing part didn’t last long as a couple of american guys named Casey and Farhad invited us along on an afternoon hike to the local rock jumping waterfall river of Tamanique. We piled in a truck and took the quick twenty minute ride out of town to where the trail down to the river begins. It had been raining hard the night before and our guide for the day named David suggested that maybe we shouldn’t go because the rivers waters would be muddy and that the trail down would be very slippery. As not to stray from adventure Casey and Farhad agreed slippery sounded fun and we took off down the trail. Well David was right the trail was like a ball of snot trying to cling to a freshly painted wall. The entire forty+ minute hike down was a greasy slippery slope with many “oh shit” moments and a whole bunch of laughter! We managed to survive and arrived at the Tamanique falls ready for a swim and a cool off.
The river was blown out from all the rain and looked like chocolate milk but that didn’t stop any of us from jumping straight in.
The cliff jumping was a good time and there were several different cliffs from which to launch yourself from.
One particular spot you were required to scale a flat wall to get out of the pool and back to the cliffs above. The face required you to find hand and foot holds that just didn’t seem to exist for me but after a lengthy battle of man versus clumsiness I managed to get up and out of the canyon. I didn’t jump in this pool anymore as one trip clinging to a rock wall per day was enough for this guy.
The third and final pool had a seventy foot waterfall cascading into a beautiful gorge below and as we sat on top of the cliff feet dangling over the edge I could feel my heart beating its cowardly little drum.
After enjoying as many cliff jumps ones heart desired we set off and headed back up the trail on another slippery battle of man versus mud. The climb out got steep at times and with the sweat pouring down our bodies we were all worthy of that cool beer waiting at the top.
Jumping into the truck with a cold beer, cool breeze and mud covered shoes we headed back to the hotel satisfied with our outing.
We spent the next week in El Tunco really enjoying the vibe of the town. The local El Salvadorians around El Tunco are super friendly towards tourists and always had a smile and a wave when passed on the streets. We would recommend El Tunco to anyone looking to relax, play in the surf or enjoy the many restaurants here.
During the days we hung out with our new friends Sarah and Regan from England and New Zealand respectively. Together we waited for our daily dose of homemade baked banana bread and empanada goodies delivered daily to us by the sweetest local lady named Rosie.
And then arrives the highlight of our day, Rosie.
She enjoyed taking a load off and sharing with us her take on the day while we enjoyed her company and the enthusiasm with which she told her stories. One afternoon as we indulged in a little rum Rosie partook in a nice strong shot with us as she chatted our ears off like she was one of our long lost grandmothers.
After seven days in El Tunco we decided to push on over to the nearby beach of El Zonte with intentions to crash there for a few days.
When we arrived El Zonte it was slightly less “happening” then we expected and found it to be just a bit quiet for our tastes. We hung out for a few minutes before retreating back to our cozy conveniences and new friends back in El Tunco.
Back to El Tunco we went to kill a few more days.
A few more days of lazing around and one botched attempt at shore fishing that ended promptly when Jenns lure snagged rocks just as a large wave crashed on her pushing her violently into the rocky shoreline. All I could do was watch her flopping around trying to keep the fishing rod a float as she was beaten off the rock pile on her back. It was a scary moment for us both that left Jenn far from being in the fishing mood and with one slightly damaged toe.
The time had come to say goodbye to our new housemate and leave El Tunco heading for the Honduras border.
With neither of us looking forward to dealing with the hassles and headaches that typically occur during a C.A. border crossing the option of staying in El Tunco forever was tempting.
We decided to spend the night at the border town of Santa Rosa so we could cross early the following day into Honduras. In the border town of Santa Rosa we seemed to receive looks from the locals like we had not yet received in El Salvador until now. Unfriendly stares and generally a less then warm fuzzy feeling was enough to keep us held up in our hotel room for the evening.
We woke up early in the morning and headed towards the gauntlet which comprises the border crossing into Honduras. As we approached the border again just like the El Salvador crossing from Guatemala we had a fella on a moto race up next to us and in perfect english ask if we wanted a helper for the crossing. I responded with an “ok” and we headed off passed the typical lineup of trucks that were waiting to cross the border miles before the actual crossing location. We landed at the exit point of El Salvador and introduced ourselves to our new helper named David. Being a little more prepared for these helpers and their antics of money extortion I told David that the I was aware of the total costs ($3.00 per person, $36.00 per bike) to cross into Honduras and that if he played a fair game $20.00 for him was waiting on the other side. David went to work quickly collecting from us all the paperwork he needed to begin this process and without getting into too much detail he raced around for 1.5 hours making photocopies of all paperwork needed which was atleast 10+. Fortunately we didn’t have to do much except wait around as David ran here and there as the rain begun to fall. With the border process almost complete David tried his attempt at extorting the typical gringo tax from me by saying he had payed off a cop and the fumigation guy (your bike needs to be fumigated each time you enter a country costing typically $3.00) the fumigation guy was just heading to lunch and that if I did not pay $12.00 ($3.00 for fumigation & $9.00 to the cop that would look the other way while I skipped the fumigation process) I would have to wait 1.5 hours for mr. fumigation to return from lunch and spray the bike. I told David that he did a great job and now to go find another tourist to tax cause I wasn’t in the mood to get played today. After three “not going to happen Davids” he got the hint and pissed of with a snarl.
We left the border and rode on into Honduras never seeing the fumigation booth or the cop…. $12.00 saved :)
We had decided to ride the 160km straight through from one side of Honduras to the other as at times Honduras has a bad reputation of crime and the tourist stops are typically the many islands along the Caribbean coast where it is just too complicated to get our moto over too.
The 2.5 hour ride went smooth and generally speaking the scenery in Honduras along the Pan American highway was typical of Central America. Blanco celebrated his 40,000 km birthday along the way marking 15,000km total on the trip thus far since leaving home.
The birthday party was about to get rained on as we were welcomed by on and off rains all the way through Honduras.
Next stop Nicaragua!!