Monday, 3 October 2011

Antigua to Playa El Cuco (El Salvador)

Friday 30th September to Sat 1st October

The number of guards sporting pump action shotguns is a reminder that a little care is needed in this part of the World........

...........they are most numerous outside of banks but are also commonplace at hotels, petrol stations and even on delivery lorries (cash on delivery is the norm).

Leaving Antigua behind we headed for the Guatemalan Border with El Salvador.

We thought it would take about two hours to get to the border at San Christobal. Five hours later we eventually joined the chaotic circus that seems to surround these places. With fixers, money changers and others descending on you when you arrive. It’s a bit like arriving at a car boot sale and opening the boot.

We succumbed to the charms of Abel, a fixer who didn’t speak much English but persuaded us to part with 10 dollars each and for that he sorted out all the paperwork for our exit from Guatemala and entry into El Salvador. Even without queues it took over two hours and I’m sure it would have taken at least twice that if we had tried to do it ourselves.

By the time we rode into El Salvador dusk was fast approaching. The dimming light, dire state of the road and the looks we were getting from villagers as we passed made us wonder if we had made a mistake. Lonely Planet says that the best thing about El Salvador is the people. The famous Gringo Trail and most travellers circumnavigate the Country by going straight into Honduras. Dusk turned to dark and we were still riding along dirt tracks looking for our accommodation on the edge of Lake Coatepeque (south of Santa Ana). We eventually found a very tired looking hotel and settled into a room that at best could only be described as basic, where most things were either broken or a bit dodgy. No street lights or even streets as such here, so we had to wait until morning to see what the place looked like.

In the morning light our view began to change. The hotel, although tired and in need of some TLC............

......used to be grand and was in a superb location on the lake edge. The people were welcoming and friendly too.

After a typical breakfast of eggs and refried beans we set off and retraced our steps along the dirt roads to find the main highway.

View of the lakeside properties. Our hotel was down there amongst them.

A coffee stop, maybe not. The water was boiling so we wouldn't have had to wait long!

Our first view of the Pacific coast since Playa Azul (when Terry's battery went kaput)

The roads as we headed East to San Salvador and then onto Usulutan and finally to the Pacific coast at Playa El Cuco were some of the best (condition wise) that we have ridden on in Central America so far. The surface was smooth and free of pot holes, however, the hard shoulders seem primarily used for drying corn, as the locals spread it out over the tarmac surface in the hot sun.

Our accommodation for the night was on the beach front at Playa El Cuco. We were hot and sticky so didn't waste any time getting into the warm Pacific.

Terry levitating above the water having felt something touch him!

Eventually it was time for a beer and something to eat.

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