09.05.2012 40 °C
Ross mentioned in his last blog that we would be heading to Nicaragua....well, that didn't happen in the end. More often now on this trip our plans keep changing. Money is getting tighter, travel is expensive in Central America; and we still have so many experiences we want to enjoy, so we are getting pickier about the Countries to visit. Surf school was a priority for us, so we crossed the Guatemalan border by bus to El Salvador, aiming for the surf coast.
The journey from Guatemala to El Salvador was comfortable and the scenery at the border dramatically changed to ranch-like countryside, all horses and cowboys! The increase in wealth was prevalent, compared with it's neighbouring countries and the local currency is the US Dollar. Most El Salvadorians work overseas in the U.S and Australia, bringing the money home to enjoy a better standard of living. Tree lined boulevards, American style houses and a flat but well-maintained infrastructure is the norm in many areas.
The El Salvadorian border welcome is notoriously unfriendly....the young woman with eyes like ice and a face like thunder asked us a series of irrelevant questions on the bus, before storing my passport in her shirt pocket and departing the bus! She later returned and handed it back with no explanation. Apparently if you're French, there's a good chance you be told to go back to where you came from. Luckily immigration is not representative of the national psyche.
We stayed a night in San Salvador, but yearning for the coast, we arrived at San Diego, near La Libertad via three chicken buses (our fault - we missed our stop), interspersed with a Spanglish conversation with a chilled out Salvadorian bar owner, before arriving at a lovely guesthouse called El Roble, owned by well-travelled Brit Darren and his El Salvadorian Wife, Seca. The place was wonderful, so chilled, with delicious home cooked food every night around a family table. We honed our skills at ping-pong, tennis, football, French Boules on the lawn(!) and darts!! The place had two swimming pools and everything was lovely including Darren's music collection which we just had to take with us; but most importantly we met some great people who we shared many an after-dinner chat with. Medhi from Iran, Emma from Derby, some ladies from Canada and Andrea from Germany who is working there - we became good friends! This place was like adult 'youth club'! The weather was unbearably hot at times, oppressively humid, so we just enjoyed youth club along with a tiny exercise regime (we mustered a skip most evenings) and a visit to the main town of La Libertad for Ross to watch Liverpool lose to Chelsea.
Darren and Seca took us all to a local annual festival (Festival of the Cross) on Sunday where we watched ordinary men dressed as cowboys as well as genuine ranchers, ride out horse sprints in a galloping display of charged testosterone / 'pin the tail on the donkey' type contest. Odd, but good fun! We enjoyed puposas (small round naan breads filled with refried beans & cheese - a staple in this part of the World) and watched a colourful parade of flower displays through the small village.
Surf didn't happen either! Unfortuantely the waves, rocks and surf were not kind enough to complete novices like Ross and I...so somewhere else on the travels surf will be. So, while our entire reasoning for visiting the Country did not materialise, we had a thoroughly good time and met people we wouldn't have met otherwise, which makes more than half the pleasure of this trip.
After a thoroughly lazy time we took a flight to Panama City last night; Ross will update you shortly on Panama. Tomorrow we head for the Rio Chiriqui (about 7 hours West of the City) for white water rafting. (Incidentally, we're only in Panama to travel to Colombia, but our boat has been delayed until the end of the month, so here we are...again!)
Hope you're all good!
Lots of love
Ross & Charlie