El Salvadore is small. It takes three hours to cross the entire country on the central highway but, weirdly, it takes 2 hours to get 10km once you are off that road. We travelled by shuttle from Guatemala which made the whole thing pretty easy. Pulling up at Border control on the Guatemalan side we were beset by hoards of men waving inches-thick bundles of Dollars and Quetzals (literally thousands of dollars) in our faces and shouting “Dollar! Dollar! Dollar!” Meet the pedestrianized bureau de change locals. No offices, no safety bars, no calculators just quick wits and the ability to have the right amount of currency ready before you even open your wallet.
On the El Salvador side we were met by friendly officials who conducted most of the business with us sitting in the shuttle. Although we did have to get out to have our temperatures taken with a high tech laser thingy whilst all standing on the side of the road in the blazing sun. No explanation – just smiles.
The final part of the journey was an exercise in sphincter control as we seemingly careered along the high dodging oncoming overtaking juggernauts, suicidal donkeys and wandering pedestrians selling stuff from the central white lines.
We are staying in El Tunco for a day or two before heading on to Nicaragua (love saying that word). It’s a seaside town that has lots of surfers wandering about looking all Adonis like – pecks, pumped biceps and 6 packs – Poor Rachel had to endure all of that youthful firmness with only me to discuss it with.
There’s not a lot to say about El Tunco really. The waves were too big and the angle of the beach to steep to allow me to try surfing without being smashed into unforgiving sand so declined to try. The beach itself is black volcanic sand and effectively heats up to skin blistering temperatures so wandering along the coast needs sensible footwear or fast feet. There was no shade on the beach so laying in the full dazzle of the sun was not great. I also had the pleasure of finding a poisonous sea snake on the beach who looked confused and overheated so, using my flip flops like oven gloves, I picked him up and threw him back in the water. Whereupon a wave then threw him straight back towards me. Taking Rachel’s insistent screaming advice I quickly ran for the shore just in time to see a particularly keen wave wash up the beach and over my kindle. Not an easy device to replace in Central Amercia. Even so it was a pleasant enough place to spend two days and we were able to try the local dish of Pupusa – a sort of fat tortilla stuffed with pork, cheese and beans. This however was not enough to detain two aging adventurers such as us. And so after two days in the country, and still in possession of our wallets and lives, we skedaddled off. This time on a 10 hour bus ride through El Salvador, right across Honduras (stopping only to piss and eat service station food) and into the lovely Land of Nicaragua.