Pan American Adventure [El Salvador]

February 3rd to February 5th 2020 [Day 134 to Day 136]

Playa El Cuco, El Salvador

Playa El Cuco is on the southern coastal end of El Salvador and this place is my favourite here so far, the beach is really quiet and endless, you can see a perfect Sunrise and Sunset over the water sitting in the same place which is weird.  It must be my first time ever seeing a Sunrise and a Sunset in the same day.  The water is really warm and I met more American snowbirds staying here who gave me free surfing lessons which was fun.

I camped at “La Tortuga Verde” owned by an American guy Tom, who knows the border guards on the Honduran Border so he contacted them on my behalf to let them know I was crossing so they could expedite the process [which they did!], he also told me to buy lots of packs of Wrigley’s chewing gum and any time I was stopped by a cop at a road block in Honduras to offer them a chewing gum first because it mellows an asshole cop into a lesser asshole cop :), he was hilarious!

I needed to make a day trip into San Miguel to hit up a Walmart since they have the only ATM in the area that my bank card works with and I needed to get some cash.  First of all I think it’s weird that Walmart is here, second of all it’s extra weird that I can take out US dollars here and pay for everything with said dollars & the prices are just like the US, It’s a little doorway to North America here selling all the same trash.  The only noticeable difference is that all the customers look like they’ve been eating sun beds for breakfast and I was the only person that missed that memo.

This folks is a cup of Corn Coffee, just when I thought I had came across every possible use for corn in Latin America [and they are endless…] I find another, they make coffee with it.  They roast the corn, grind it, it looks totally like a bag of ground coffee and it makes a cup of coffee that tastes, well, kinda like coffee but it has no caffeine (I know, what’s the point?), apparently this is quite a common El Salvadorian drink and I only came across it because I refused instant coffee for breakfast and was offered this as an alternative.  It tastes WAY better and more like real coffee that instant coffee.

These are rescue Pelicans hanging out at La Tortuga Verde, the owner takes in Pelicans with broken wings and they live here.  They get let out in the morning and go swimming then make their way back hanging out on the grounds during the day.  He also pays 0.25 per turtle egg so the locals bring him turtle eggs instead of selling them on the illegal market as food, there’s a turtle hatchery on the property where the eggs are buried and protected from predators.

February 1st to February 3rd 2020 [Day 132 to Day 134]

Playa El Tunco, El Salvador

Playa El Tunco was fun for a few days but it’s pretty busy little town and doesn’t really feel like El Salvador at all since it’s mostly a fly in Surf destination.  The hostel I stayed at for 2 nights was very social but most of the people staying there were too “cool” for my liking.  I have until the 5th before I cross the border into Honduras and onto El Salvador with some riding buddies so I decided to skip out of here after 2 nights and head further south down the coast to another beach village called El Cuco.

I did live off Papusosas while here though, this is the best budget food around and they’re so bloody good.  Home cooking here is a total waste of time because it’s cheaper to eat street food than it is to go to the hassle of buying stuff and cooking yourself.

February 1st 2020 [Day 132]

Playa El Tunco, El Salvador

I’ve booked my 3 day sailing taking my bike and I from Panama to Columbia on April 19th.  There aren’t many options to get from Panama to Columbia and all of them are expensive.  Unfortunately the Darién Gap blocks road travel between these 2 countries.  This 3 day sailing costs $1,250 USD, the cheapest I’ve read about someone doing it is $700 USD but they shared a container with other overlander vehicles and had to fly to Columbia and wait to receive their bike.

The boat I’ll be taking is called “The Stahlratte“, it can take around 20 motorbikes, and it seems like a pretty cool adventure in itself…

We will load the motorbikes by winch at a pier at PORT CARTI directly on deck of “Stahlratte” on the first day of the tour. The first day afternoon and night will be spent at HOTEL EL PORVENIR a short boat ride from Carti. The dinner in hotel porvenir will be organized for you.

The price includes the transport of motorcycle + 1person, loading/unloading, lashing, covering the bike and the stay at Hotel Porvenir. All immigration works as well as the customs clearance for Colombia for the motorbikes.

Also included are food on board (min 3 meals per day) and drinks (except alcoholic beverages and sodas). We are very famous for our good food! There is no need for anybody to bring food or drinking water on board!

The crossing from San Blas to Cartagena via open sea will take max. 30 hours of sailing. The rest of the time in San Blas will be spent in in one of the most beautiful spots, anchored between several little uninhabited palmtree-covered islands with white beaches surrounded by wonderful corral reefs.
We provide good snorkeling gear and lots of “noodles” to hang out in the water. You can also use our famous ropeswing. Everybody on board is asked to help a little bit with washing dishes and if you want you are welcome to help raising sails.

Check out some pictures of previous crossings I’ve found on the www.

January 31st 2020 [Day 131]

Santa Ana, El Salvador to Playa El Tunco, El Salvador

Big day today with lots of stuff to visit on my way to the coast for tonight.  The countries have gotten so much smaller now that riding around them in a big loop is painless as the distances are teeny.  This 176km loop takes in most of the attractions in the northern end of the country.

My first stop in the loop is Salto de Malacatiupan which is a thermal river with waterfall.  It’s a little off the beaten track and the road turns from paved to dirt trail at one point which makes me nervous since this is where the bad shit happens.  I stopped for a second to consider if I wanted to continue or not and decided, fuck it I’d keep going, this is what I came to see.

I’m glad I went because the place was pretty cool, it’s a fast flowing river with a pool at the base of the waterfall.  You can jump in from near the top of the waterfall or a little lower down from the side, either way its quite the jump.  I was happy there were some friendly local kids there to show me how it’s done.  Once one of them jumped in in front of me I followed suit pretty quickly and before I knew it I was fully immersed in 40°C water and being pushed away from the waterfall towards the back of the pool from the flow of the water.

It’s relatively clean here for El Salvador, the water was clean and there wasn’t a tonne of plastic garbage strewn everywhere which has become a pretty normal site on this trip.  These countries must have been much cleaner and smelt much better before the dawn of mass produced plastics.  They mostly dispose of it along the roadsides by burning it so the air is usually full of the smell of plastic fire.

After an our or so here I move on to the next attraction known as “Ruta de las Flores” which is a 30km route through 5 or 6 small towns where the road sides are paved with lots of flowers.  I didn’t really think a whole lot of this route, I stopped in each town along the way and rode around to see what was going on.  I stopped in Juayúa for 2 hours to go see the Seven Waterfalls but a guy with  car parking along the way said I couldn’t ride all the way to the waterfalls because they were on private property so I had to park in his place and take a guide.

I didn’t have a guide organized so after some chit chatting he agreed to take me on the hour loop to the base of the waterfall for $10 where you then have to climb up 30 meters or so to near the top of the waterfall before taking another route back through the jungle.  It was pretty sketchy climbing up the waterfall, and since this wasn’t part of my plan I still had my motorcycle pants on while doing it!  Regardless it was entertaining and there’s no way I would have been able to find the route there and back without having a guide.

After the hike I met 2 guys that were in my hostel last night in the carpark so we go grab food and a beer together at a restaurant in Juayúa before I head out to finish Routa de las Flores and down to the coast for the 70km ride to Playa El Tunco where I’m staying for 2 nights, this is a very popular surf destination, and I arrive just in time to catch Sunset on the beach while watching the pretty impressive surf.

The hostel I’m staying at seems to be quite the party place so I ended up going out for a few beers with the people staying here even though I was pretty wrecked after my day!

January 30th 2020 [Day 130]

Santa Ana, El Salvador

Lazy day today planning some stuff to do tomorrow and a route to the coast where I’ll stop for a few days.  I also got my first much needed haircut since I left Vancouver since there seemed to be lots of barber stores near the hostel.  I hate getting my hair cut but doing it through Spanish was even more of a road block, luckily it was relatively painless though!

This is “The Salvadorian Cut”

January 29th 2020 [Day 129]

Santa Ana, El Salvador

Today we hike up the active Santa Ana Volcano! Bart & Rachel arrive at my hostel for 9 just after I scoffed breakfast and we ride to the base of the Santa Ana Volcano for the 90 minute hike up to the crater.  The last eruption from this bad boy was in 2005 so if it decides to blow its nose on us today, so be it!  It’s a nice hike with a pretty great view down into the crater of the volcano from the rim.  There is steam spewing out of the turquoise lake at the bottom and you can hear it hissing from the top.

This guy had a Duff tattoo on the back of his neck, I’m not really sure what I think about that!

Later we ate at Taco Rico Rico Taco, a very busy little restaurant 10km south of central Santa Ana dropped off and collected by courtesy taxi put on by their hostel.  This place is very local and very popular, our order was taken by their eight year old daughter and the food was excellent.

January 28th 2020 [Day 128]

Jutiapa, Guatemala to Santa Ana, El Salvador

This morning I packed up my camping gear, grabbed some breakfast then rode 20 minutes to the Guatemalan/El Salvadorian border to cross.  I didn’t do much research on this crossing so wasn’t really sure what the process was but I figured it out as I went…

The first desk on the Guatemalan side was immigration so I had to get an exit stamp in my passport removing myself from Guatemala, next I had to walk to a little store with a photocopier to copy some documents in the no mans land between Guatemala & El Salvador, once I had the copies it was back to the Guatemala side to export my motorbike, that done I rode on a kilometer and crossed the bridge over Rio Paz which separates the 2 countries and hit the El Salvador border control “Hut” where I imported myself and my bike, once all that paperwork was complete I rode to the final checkpoint where they look at your documents one more time before officially being in El Salvador, time for a quick photo op after the relatively painless but lengthy 3 hour process.  This crossing didn’t cost anything!

The first weird thing about El Salvador is that their official currency is the US dollar, ATM’s vend it and vendors accept it.  It’s a good opportunity to stock up with a stash of USD for those future “get out of jail” situations with the US dollar being universally excepted everywhere as a method of bribery and payment.

From here I rode onto Santa Ana to check into my hostel, when I pulled up on the street outside there was another couple on a fully loaded adventure bike waiting to get in, when he took his helmet off I saw it was Bart who I met in Guatemala also riding from Canada to Argentina, we managed to squeeze the bikes between parked cars, along the foot path and wedged them into the garage, soon after I realized I was at the wrong hostel so I had to unwedge my bike and get it back on the road again to ride across town, at least I got their contact details this time so we can meet up and ride together for a bit.  I had a private room in my hostel which was more like a homestay than a hostel where your sharing the house with the Salvadorian family who live there.  The house was huge with loads of outdoor courtyard space so it was pretty nice and I get to practice my Spanish a bit.  My bike is also in the living room for all to admire :p

I met up with Bart and his girlfriend Rachel in the evening for food and some beers in downtown Santa Ana, we also planned a ride to hike up to the active Santa Ana Volcano for tomorrow.


Read More… Guatemala