14 September – Day 54
Juayua, El Salvador to El Tunco, El Salvador
Distance: 182kms (including several delays while we waited for marching bands / parades to clear the road…)
El Salvador continued to improve on me this morning – getting up at 5.30am to watch the sun rise up and over the volcanoes surrounding us was definitely a good start!! Wow – it was beautiful. The coffee plantations lining the lower slopes, the almost unbelievable verdancy of the grass and the trees (so much so that it the hills almost look like they are glowing), and the morning sky is amazing… generally, it’s the only time of day without clouds (no no, not Adrian – the actual sky!). We got going later than expected because, just as we were leaving, Adrian mentioned to the owner of the hotel that we were going into town for breakfast and a coffee and he insisted on making us a coffee with beans from his own plantation. So that was pretty cool… sitting in El Salvador, looking out over the volcanoes, with a local, drinking coffee from his own plantation.
And then our breakfast in town was amazing! The local speciality in El Salvador is a little savoury pancake thing (actually it’s a corn tortilla) stuffed with any number of ingredients including spinach, cheese, beans, chicken etc called Pupusa… it’s a little bit like a Gozleme – and is delicious!!! Even the fact that I was calling them ‘poops’ for short didn’t detract from the deliciousness of these little pockets of goodness. Somewhat embarrassingly, this was also the first time we’ve genuinely eaten ‘street food’ in Central America ie food from a tiny shack on the road, with a gas bottle and hotplate. I am already planning a poops bbq when I get home (although.. I may need to work on the marketing and/or come up with a new nickname for them… I can’t see my friends being too excited about any sort of food called poops!!!).
We headed up into the mountains to have an up close look at one of the volcanoes, Cerro Verde. However the higher we got, the thicker the fog became… and by the time we reached the summit, visibility was perhaps 50m… so all we got to see were the flowers in the garden. For that reason, we didn’t stay up there for very long.
Our way to our final destination for the day, we stopped at a lookout and met an American Harley rider, Bruce, who not only bought us lunch, but also guided us to a local beach resort town called El Tunco, where we stayed for the night. We had planned on going further, but it was already well into the afternoon and Bruce’s advice was that our planned stop was just too far away to reach before nightfall. Given one of our golden rules is no driving at night, El Tunco it was.
El Tunco is a very popular surfer town and is a holiday spot for westerners and El Salvadorians (?) alike. It’s a pretty black sand beach, and the town has a relaxed vibe. I overheard two girls saying that like felt ‘safer’ in El Tunco than other surfie towns nearby, because even though ‘you might get your stuff stolen’, at least you wouldn’t be threatened with a gun or machete?!!
After a spot of table tennis, a walk on the beach and some dinner, that was us done for the day. All very civilised, really!