The trip to El Salvador required us to spend yet another night in Antigua. This brings the total to 9 nights for anyone counting, which is by far the longest we've been anywhere aside from the lovely days of El Nido, Philippines.
We woke up early on the morning of our departure and attempted to get a bit of exercise. We went for an easy 25 minute run, which is when we caught a glimpse of the impending doom. On the way home after stopping for a couple cups of coffee, Adrian had a sudden and violent stomach pain. It became obvious as the morning crawled on that this might not be the best travel day for him.
The shuttle van arrived promptly at five minutes to 8. And by some stroke of luck, we happened to be the first to be picked up. Nope, we were not going to be shoved in the back with 4 other sweaty individuals, with no access to any window breeze, and absolutely zero leg room, oh no, not us, not this time! We grabbed the bench seat directly behind the driver, with ample leg room, windows, and even air controls (not that they worked, but still... It's principle).
We drove around the cobbled streets of Antigua, that we have all but memorized over the last week and a half, and picked up backpacker after backpacker (most of which were from Perth, Australia) at several hostels around town, until finally and yet again, we were filled to capacity... Never ceases to amaze me. It was about a full hour later that we were all packed in, backpacks and surfboards strapped to the roof, and slowly but surely making our way out of town.
By this point in the trip, Adrian was in fits of fever-sweats and trying desperately to find that one cozy spot for his head and body as he sat very uncomfortably between me and an old smoky man. A bit of a lost cause.
Luckily, the trip was on the shorter side...only 6 hours. A couple hour long podcasts and we were at the Guatemalan/El Salvadorian border. We stepped out of the parked van and were greeted by a stifling heat. We queued up at the window and had our passports examined. No stamps or money was transferred as we were passing through the C-4 countries.
Before filing back into the car it was a quick stop at the restroom. Quick for some, not so quick for others. Adrian was well and truly feeling the effects of some undefined G.I-poisoning, and really not looking too hot as he was the last passenger back to the van.
A few minutes down the road and it was out one more time to pass through the El Salvadorian immigration. The process was painstakingly long, for any standards, and the sun was blazing and relentless. It really was a struggle to find a happy place, some more than others.
Eventually though, we had all gotten through the line and back into the van for the rest of the six hour trip to the beaches of El Salvador. Thank God for those Podcasts, not sure how else ole Ado would've pulled through. We at long last caught our first glimpse of the beautiful blue Pacific and knew we were home free.
We were the first off the shuttle at Playa Zonte as the rest of the crew were headed farther to Playa Tunco 15 minutes down the road. We climbed out of the van, thanked our driver, checked into the guesthouse, and this is where we parted ways for the afternoon.
Adrian crumbled onto the bed in front of the fan in the dark, hot hotel room. While being as sympathetic as possible, I quickly changed into my swimsuit and pulled up a lounge chair by the pool, hoping that in a few short hours he would have slept it off and would emerge from the room back to better.
This, of course, was not the case. Instead he spent the rest of the afternoon and evening going between fitful, fever-induced sleep and crapping his brains out on the toilet. I, on the other hand, was bored and helpless. And unfortunately there is very little to do in this village, if you can even call it that.
By that evening, Adrian had at very least pried himself out of bed. We tried to purchase some Immodium at the local Tienda, but it was two years out of date. We decided instead to pop in a DVD and get to bed early.
In the morning, we were forced with the unpleasant task of running errands. It was very simple in theory, a walk to the nearest ATM and a stop at the Farmacia for Adrian. In practice, however, it was much different. The whole charade took us over 6 hours. With only two emergency bathroom breaks we walked for about 2 hours to the closest ATM and Farmacia, only to find out the ATM was broken and the "Farmacia" was a stand selling Coca-Colas and Pepto.
We were forced to hop the bus into La Liberdad. We came across two more ATMs that also didn't work for us until finally when we just about had it we finally succeeded in procuring money to pay our hostel and buying our ticket to Nicaragua.
The other 2 hours were spent at the Farmacia (2 minutes) and the internet cafe (118 minutes). We found out that we would need to stay the night in San Salvador to get a 5am bus to Nicaragua. We battled the terribly slow internet and booked in a hotel close to the bus station. With one more stop at a local tourist agency to confirm prices and timing for the bus, we had completed our tasks and had completely wasted our time at the beach.
We arrived back to our guesthouse around 4. For the rest of the afternoon we laid lazily and read in the cozy hammocks, we walked down to the beach for a gorgeous sunset, and had dinner of soup as not to upset the finally settling tummy.
In the morning, feeling a bit better, we sipped deliciously frosty ice coffees and took a long-overdue dip in the Pacific. We packed up our belongings and checked out of our room by 10:30. Alex, our very kind host, was making a trip to San Salvador to get some flip flops. He had recently had a fairly gnarly surf accident and tore open his foot which subsequently got infected. He thought it was best to not walk barefoot for a few days, and thus, needed the flip flops. Seriously... You live at the beach and you don't have any sandals???!!!
At any rate, Alex kindly offered to bring us into San Salvador in exchange for $15. We accepted knowing full well the chicken bus would take 5x as long and we were hoping to go see at least a bit of San Salvador while we were there.
With our bags packed we got in the van and headed to the capital. El Salvador is known for their incredible beaches and wicked surf breaks, we, unfortunately, will remember it more for the time spent on the toilet.