Playa El Zonte, El Salvador Wednesday 26th April to Sunday 29th April 2012
Journey to El Salvador was very easy as we decided to take a shuttle ride which took us door to door, much easier than the complicated journey of changing several buses in several different cities/towns and on the whole the shuttle was more comfortable and worked out only about £5 more expensive.
We left Copan Ruinas at 13.30 and arrived at Playa El Zonte, El Salvador at 19:00, having crossed the borders of Guatamala and EL Salvador. Only stopping for Immigration - which were both very straight forward with no queuing. The Driver Fernando, who spoke a little English was very safe and helpful. Also on the trip were and American couple Ali & Luke.
We booked into a hostel called Esencia Nativa and had a double room with shared bathroom. As we arrived at night we had little idea what the hotel or the town entailed, we had only booked for one night so nothing too loose. On first sight everything looked good with a bar, restaurant and a small kidney shaped swimming pool. Rooms are basic, beds comfortable and a fan. We ate at the hotel - very reasonable, good, tasty food. El Salvador uses US Dollars as their currency and the beer was only $1.25 - much cheapness. And so to bed.
Thursday 26th April
Awoke early probably with the dawn chorus and could hear the sea so could not resist a peak. To my delight the hotel over looks the sea and is a short walk from the beach. So I went for and explore to find surfers on huge pacific sea waves and black volcanic sand beach. I happily watched the sun come up and the surfers for a couple of hours before heading back to the room to wake Andy.
We took a stroll around the village and met a very friendly local buying Vodka at 10.30am, he tried to give us a Spanish lesson. Later that day when we we walking round the headland who should we bump into but our friendly local, who had obviously consumed a fair amount of the vodka. He took a real liking to Andy and kept trying to teach him strange Spanish words. He invited us up to his house for a coke - not sure if he meant the liquid or powder kind. We declined but thanked him for his kindness and said we might see him later.
The village is very rustic, but we have to remember up until recently El Salvador was ravaged by civil war and unrest. It is a third world country still very much in recovery and it's reputation of being dangerous does not help. We found the people to be very friendly and helpful.
After a paddle in the sea and a swim in the pool we met up with Ali & Luke and went into La Libertad - nearest town to get cash and book tickets for the Tica bus that will take us to Nicargua on Sunday. We visited the pier with its fish market and ate fresh fish for lunch in the adjoining fish restaurants/cafes. Public transport here is the old American school buses and is an experience not to miss, they are very proud of their vehicles and pimp them up with lifted front suspension, flashing lights, paint job and rear spoiler. They are often very full and hot, but great for meeting the locals face to face.
We then took a bus back via Playa El Tunco - which is a much more touristy resort and hence livelier, with many more bars, restaurants and a bigger beach but the waves aren't as big there.
Friday 27th April
Chill out day relaxing by the pool, beach etc
Saturday 28th April
Left the hostel today to travel to the capital San Salvador to catch up on some local culture and history.
Caught the local bus to La Libertard at 8.45 and from there to San Salvador. The second bus journey was very busy and very interesting when wearing a backpack, especially as there was no where to put luggage and no where to sit initially. When we did eventually get seats it was easier to keep our packs on. The people are very helpful and offer to hold whatever bags you have to enable you to hold onto the grab rail. I managed to fall on and squash a old man and he still smiled at me sweetly and offered to hold my bag for me.
San Salvador was a little bit of a let down, with the Centro Historica being a little run down, dirty and very hot. We enjoyed walking through the market with it's hustle and bustle but after that retreated to our hotel for a lovely warm shower and a rest. We ate out at a nearby American restaurant within a new centre called World Trade Centre. We were warned that it is dangerous for tourist in San Salvador after dark in certain areas so decided to stay local. Then to bed for an early start of 2am
Next stop Leon, Nicargua.