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El Salvador

El Salvador…..

So yesterday, I woke up in Guatemala and I was feeling a little down and homesick for my family so I logged onto Facebook for the first time since we left Antigua. I had one message from my friend Paula, who lives in Paris, France, and she sent me the perfect video link that brought some inspiration back just when I needed it most.  Amazing how it can be just the smallest connection to someone that can bring that spark back into life. That and a phone call to my parents to find out all was well on the homefront.

El Salvador border crossing at La Hachadura

El Salvador border crossing at La Hachadura

Our border crossing into El Salvador was relatively smooth.  There were no lines to wait in.  We just had to had to wait about 15-20 minutes on the Guatemala side to cancel our vehicle import paperwork and another 5 minutes for our passports to be stamped. As soon as we pulled up there were helpers there offering to “help” us but we declined and they left us alone after that.

Jackie patiently waiting on the Guatemala side of the border.

Jackie patiently waiting on the Guatemala side of the border.

We entered no man’s land and after crossing a bridge, we were stopped at a checkpoint where it turned out they only wanted to look at our original import paperwork for the bikes that we were given when we first crossed into Guatemala,  made sure it was stamped on our departure from Guatemala, and we continued on.

Once though that, we parked in front of the Migration office and first took care of Jackie’s papers  getting reviewed and stamped.  There was a little language barrier that slowed the process down and we discovered that besides our vet health certificate and vaccination records that we brought from home, they wanted to see proof that she was properly cleared through Guatemala and then we were good to go.

The line for getting our passport stamped was a little longer as we got caught behind a small tour bus filled with people but luckily the line moved pretty quickly considering.  After the passports were stamped they gave us a little slip of paper to give at the police checkpoint

Getting through customs with the bikes was only delayed by our filing out the forms and not being able to read Spanish very well.  While we were getting some help from one of the officials,  someone came and took Jackie and walked her around outside for us.  They looked at our vin numbers on the bikes, then after a little longer wait, we signed papers and were off.

Waiting for our VIN numbers to be checked in the El Salvador.

Waiting for our VIN numbers to be checked in the El Salvador.

Kinda had a little helper, wasn't the best but he was cute.

Kinda had a little helper, wasn’t the best but he was cute.

At the police check point they took our slip of paper, asked where we were going, again looked at our original bike import paper that we were given in Guatemala and paid a entry fee of $25 USD per bike.  Turns out that there is something called the CA-4 here where there are 4 countries (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua) that once you enter you have 90 days total in all the countries combined.  They reminded us of the 90 days and we were off.  We have 39 more days before we have to be out.

The first town on the other side of the border,  La Hachadura, was busy and not some place that we wanted to stop so we rode right on through.  Not long after, we started passing fruit stands and since it was 1 pm by this time we eventually found a stand selling watermelons so we stopped and ate one at the side of the road. Cost us $1 USD, yes they take US dollars here in El Salvador.

After eating and talking with some locals, we discovered that we weren’t too far from the beach area we were looking for, Playa El Tunco.  Past the fruit stand, we rode through pasture fields and fields of vegetable as we worked our way closer and closer to the coast.

Found a wonderful little roadside restaurant overlooking the ocean that we stopped at for lunch  and where Jackie was  “stolen” by the owners 5 year old daughter. Just as we were finishing up, a man rode up on a nice road touring bike, and we chatted for a while. Turned out he was from Columbia and had ridden his bike, solo, all the way up to Texas and was now on his way back.  Now that is an impressive journey.

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By this time it was probably 3:30 in the afternoon, so we continued on riding in some of the most amazing countryside as we rode through green lush mountain terrain, between cliffs with the tree roots exposed all the way down the cliff walls, through tunnel after tunnel into the mountains and the ocean off to our right.  As we rode, we both mentioned to each other that we were so glad we didn’t let fear stop us from coming to El Salvador.

About 45 minutes later we rode past a couple that looked like they spoke English so we stopped and found out that just a few minutes further down the road there was a hotel and a few hostels where we could get a room for the night.  Didn’t quite make it to Playa El Tunco but we did find an amazing beautiful beach, Playa El Zonte, with very few people so we decided to stop and stay for a couple days.

 

Hotel Esencia Nativa in Playa El Zonte, El Salvador

Hotel Esencia Nativa in Playa El Zonte, El Salvador

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Last night, we sat out on the beach and watched the lightning off to the left of us, saw fireflies flitting around, and watched the waves wash up on the beach. This beach itself has a large area covered with round black rocks that ranged in size from small rocks that would easily fit into the palm of my hand to fist sized rocks and larger and when the waves came up over the rocks, the sound as the water receded through the rocks was amazing.  It was exactly like the sound that a rain stick makes. Milton called it God’s rain stick, which I felt was very fitting.  Sitting out on the beach as it got darker and darker with only the lightening, the fireflies, and sound of the waves was very surreal.  Never in my wildest dreams, did I ever think I would be sitting on a beach in El Salvador.

In fact, the further south we go, the more of a dream this becomes. Mexico, I could imagine; Guatemala I could imagine. For some reason, I had a hard time dreaming beyond those borders, and now, here we sit in El Salvador. Not sure if at some point, I thought that we’d “listen”  to those negative thoughts that tend to creep in at times, or if we’d “listen” to those who tend to live a fear based life. Whatever form the voice comes in, we continue to push it away, we haven’t given up and we haven’t returned home.  Our safety net, as we once knew it, is no longer there anymore anyways but we’ve found a much larger safety net out here on the road that includes locals, friends we’ve made along the way, other travelers that we haven’t had the pleasure of meeting yet, friends back home, and the safety net between the two of us has only grown stronger as we travel. Also, thankfully we have quite a few cheerleaders in our lives who encourage us, whether it’s by a simple message on Facebook, or sharing some inspiring video; whoever and wherever you are, thank you for your encouragement and cheering us along the way.

2 Comments

  1. Hi you two,

    We met a Chili’s in Quito. I was wearing an Ohio State shirt, and had a few beers in me. Sorry I didn’t write to you that night, but hopefully the information shared was enough.

    If you make it to Buenos Aires, please visit the restaurant El Des Nivel in the San Telmo neighborhood. The best steak and house wine ever! Also, if you are there on a weekend San Telmo has an amazing market.

    Best of luck,

    Marvin

    The reason I posted on the El Salvador page is because my parents are from there. Glad you enjoyed it.

    • Katherine Anderson

      November 18, 2016 at 6:22 pm

      Marvin, thank you for posting and of course we remember you. This continues to be an incredible journey for us of both, thank you for input. Our journey always gets enriched when we met people who share their knowledge of the local area. After leaving Quito, we took the long way to Banos and then went on to Cuenca, and both were incredible beautiful areas. Thanks again, it was wonderful to meet you.

      Milton and Katherine

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