Our first stop was Haultco and eventually we found a place to stay that could fit all six of us in the same room – now this was definitely different to what we had just spent the last couple of weeks in. There were two double beds and they bought in another mattress, which pretty much took up the entire floor space. We also had to lug all our belongings into the room as there was no way we were leaving anything in the car, especially with easy access through the back window (and half the doors not locking)..
Out for dinner then early night in – we wanted to be up before sunrise to get a full day of driving done – we did have a border crossing to take into account also. Getting into Guatemala was going to be interesting with the car. Not something any of us had done before..
It was a big day of driving and I drove for a lot of it, which I enjoyed. Quick stop for lunch and we were off again – we had a speaker which entertained us with some decent tunes playing along the way..
We finally arrived to the border town, after sunset (!) and we could not, for the life of us, find the border entrance. Yes we were driving around saying “dónde está Guatemala” (“where is Guatemala”) and we received different answers from all – eventually we got there and it was straightforward and easy to leave Mexico, the hard part was entering Guatemala with the Mexican car and not all the papers in hand.
With all our Spanish combined (especially our saviour, Sam) we finally understood that we were missing one document for the car and they could not let us through without it unlesssssss we paid a bribe which apparently was a required fee… Typical border control.
We were finally through after a couple of hours! Found ourselves a hotel with a place where we could park the car securely and with 5 single beds in the one room (two shared one bed).
Now that we were in Guatemala we had to get some Guatemalan Quetzal and have a dinner at ‘Porkys’ which was an interesting night for us all.
Another early morning but this time our repacking of the car was pretty efficient – we were getting used to this….
Big morning driving along the Guatemalan roads which were overrun with the chicken busses – now these are not something you want to take on. The busses rule the roads.
We stopped in a pretty developed town called Esquintla where we made sure we took copies of the car papers, had a nice picnic lunch and took a break. On the road again and we were anxious for the next border crossing into El Salvador. All went well at the border, it was just a very long winded process (including the many lines)..
But we got through – and had a couple of celebratory drinks whilst driving away, yes I was driving. Couple of police checks but when we asked if everything was ok with our papers etc, “más o menos’ was the response we received (“more or less”)!
We were driving in the dark once again but we were so close to reaching El Tunco we just wanted to make it there although, it did include some extremely windy roads along the coast.
We arrived in El Tunco and I borrowed a phone to call the guy of the house where we were to be staying. Grabbed some food whilst we waited and then Fernando met us and took us all to the casa in El Palmacito (five minute drive from El Tunco) – what a relief to finally get there – the day before New Years Eve too, talk about cutting it fine.
Quick sus of everything and Fernando left us to it – we had three bedrooms, a pool and a massive ‘sleepy’ garden all to ourselves. After an exhausting day we called it a night.
That next day we headed to the main town of La Libertad and stocked up on food, alcohol and necessities.
We spent our last day of 2014 cooking up a feast and having a few drinks down the beach and rock pools of El Palmacito. We saluted the sun setting and went back to the Casa to enjoy a few mescal drinks from what we bought with us from Mexico. And then the firework war started.
Wow. This was intense, all the local boys got wind that a group of gringos were staying on their street and the fireworks were next level. It was such great fun though with everyone in the neighborhood getting involved – we had the family that looked after our Casa on our side and the young boys were loving it.
We eventually got a lift to ‘the Tunc’ (El Tunco) where we all had a rather large night with everyone else in the town.
The next few days for the start of 2015 were spent drinking and exploring the local beaches, once again looking for decent surf. And a mention to the ‘sleepy garden’ the most luscious backyard with hammocks and our Mexican blankets in the shade meant for some serious nap time.
One of the days Fernando and his mate Zuzu took us on a massive mission to find some waterfalls, Juayúa Falls. Ended up being a good few hour drive away but it was well worth it once the boys stopped getting lost. Fun to jump off and then going through some sketchy tunnels taking us out to different parts of the falls.
There ended up being nine of us in the car, I was lucky to be driving so wasn’t squished but the whole day gave true meaning to “its not always the destination that counts, it’s the journey to get there”.. ha
We were at this casa for another 10-day stay in total searching for surf, nights out partying and chilled times at the casa. We even found some more fireworks and had fun with the local kids again.
Eventually I called it (knew my end date was looming) and I booked a bus ticket to a town further south in El Salvador (El Cuco). The kiwis were staying on a few more days and the Aussies were heading back to Guatemala. It was time for goodbyes.
Seedy bus trip for myself after a large last night together but eventually I arrived at La Tortuga Verde with a few other people from the bus. Now this was a very chilled and remote place. Just what I needed after a three-week bender..
Chilled out days walking to the town of El Cuco along the beach and hanging out at La Tortuga. The traditional El Salvadorian dish of pupusas here were a big hit of mine – corn tortillas with a filling – usually cheese (pupusas de queso), beans, and/or Salvadoran-style chicharrón (finely ground pork). A pupusa revuelta has all three fillings and all are served with a pickled cabbage slaw called curtido and thin tomato sauce (salsa roja). YUM!
The kiwi boys eventually joined me just as I got an email from my new employer in the Cayman Islands – the reception and internet was so bad that I knew it was time for me to leave and make my way to the capital of El Salvador, San Salvador.
One last eve with the Kiwis with dinner and a few card games followed by a morning checking out the main surf break of Las Flores with the boys and then received a lift half way to San Salvador before bussing it the rest of the way.
I caught up on all I needed to with the internet and went to explore San Salvador a bit. Not much to it really. Zuzu and Fernando (the local boys from El Tunco) picked me up and we went to the watch El Hobbit (in English) at the cinema. Big night out afterwards and then we all went back to El Tunco the following day for what I though was just going to be the night but ended up another week in El Tunco!
This time it was a very different experience as I was staying with the local boys in one of their guesthouses (which was currently closed to guests) and I had a great time. Many pupusas were had and lots of chill time with the local lads. As happens in El Tunco, there were quite a few large nights but all good fun.
The Californians from our Mexican ‘family’ rocked up so I got to catch up with them once again.
After eating a very large quantity of pupusas (one day for breakfast, lunch and dinner), it was time for me to move on once again. Back to San Salvador to pick up my bags and from there I was to go back to Guatemala and visit the places I had not yet explored..