We finished our last Spanish class and spent the remainder of Friday packing up and airing Pedro out after his 3 week rest. Our planned drive took us back out of the steep, windy road riddled with blind corners and pot holes. There were barely any other cars on the road thanks to our 6 AM Saturday departure and we were doing great until a pothole as big as the front end of the truck appeared and Eric stopped. After about 15 minutes later, multiple reversals in search of flatter ground, seven attempts to get going again and (luckily) just a very hot clutch, we made it onward. After Eric started breathing again, he said that was the most nervous about the car he had been yet. Starting the day with a panic session at 7 AM is always a bit rough but we made it through the rest of the route, including Guatemala City, without any major issues.
We crossed over into El Salvador around 2 PM on Saturday June 6th and headed along the Ruta de Flores due to Jaye’s recommendation. Our first stop was a beautiful hot springs not far from the border. The man was surprised that we only wanted to camp and just use the springs but he allowed it. For being at least 2 km down a muddy, bumpy road in the middle of nowhere, this place was beautiful and well maintained. It was a nice treat to have the beautiful facilities and a covered parking spot to keep Pedro (and us) dry!
The next day, after completing the shorter than expected Ruta de Flores, we headed for the coast. The road was beautiful and wound along the beaches and little towns. We ended at El Tunco just up the road from the city of La Libertad. This area is well known for its surfing and since we are novice surfers, we were just hanging out. We found a great little place near the rocky, black sand beach and tried to avoid the heavy, daily rain storms. The second day in El Tunco we heard people near the truck and looked out only to find Kyle and Jaye (www.oursouthernexposure.com) parking next to us. We were happy to hang out again, enjoy beers, pupusas and good conversation.
Pupusas were a glorious food discovery. We had had one in Belize and had been waiting not so patiently for El Salvador ever since. It’s basically a thick corn tortilla, stuffed with anything from meats, beans, cheese and shrimp. They are only about $.50 and are amazing. We ate our fair share before leaving the country.
Our next step after a few relaxing days by the beach was to tackle two borders in one long day. We drove inland to a smaller city, arriving there just to be closer to the border more than anything. We find ourselves in places like that sometimes. Places with no character, no beauty, no reason to ever be there except as a midpoint on this journey. On June 11th we woke up early, had an awful but free breakfast, and hit the road for our day of border hell.
The checking out of El Salvador was fairly simple. Everything was in one building and the nice woman stamped our passports, scribbled on Eric’s vehicle permit and laughed at my passport picture, then we were good to go. Getting through the Honduras border was the trouble. There will multiple stops with zero signage of course and we had to drive a surprisingly long distance between each required step. Honduras was the first country that gave us a hard time about only having a copy of the title with us. That was a long argument. Also, they required a ton of copies and an unusual amount of going back and forth from aduana, to the bank, to the car, immigration and back to aduana. An English speaking “helper” latched on to us even though we continued to explain we didn’t want or need help. In the end he tried to explain that we owed him $60 or else the policeman who was now aware (thanks to him) of our lack of a real title would detain us for 72 hours in the next town. Eric spent 10 minutes arguing with him and eventually just had to drive away slowly, pushing the guy out of our way with Pedro as we went. From there we were so turned off by Honduras that we drove our two hours to the next border without stopping for food or photos. We hope to go back one day to the east coast of Honduras, but for this trip it just wasn’t in the cards.
The Nicaraguan border was similar to most all the others. Check out of Honduras, pass a million waiting semi-trucks, get your fumigation and spend at least an hour getting paperwork approved for your car to be legally in the country. Standing waiting for the extra rude woman behind the glass, listening to the blaring Spanish nature show on television, swatting away endless flies, and smelling the mixture of sweat and street food; that was our day. As we finally drove away from the border and on towards the Nicaraguan coast it started to rain, not only cleansing Pedro of his recent fumigation spray but also our spirits of the long, terrible, double border day.