Feliz Cumpleanos Gringo!
Trip Start Dec 30, 2010
84Trip End Jul 06, 2011
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I assume the bus will pull into the bus station in Santa Ana, but upon further reading it takes a bus 15 minutes to drive 100 feet through a busy market, most of the passengers had left the bus, I recognise from the map where I am and the driver is beginning to head away from the city, so I jump off. I walk around 20 blocks through a busy market and pass a small park before I am in an area where a couple of hostels are located. The first one I look for is shut, so I swing around the corner and find a motel type place, solo rooms and it looks like a good place to spend my birthday. I know the price of the room is $10 (El Salvador use the US Dollar as their currency) upon entering the reception area, the woman increases the price of the room to $15. It's outrageous, and in a way, pretty racist. From the colour of my skin she has added an additional 50% on the price of the room. I smile, shake my head and tell her I will pay $10. She backs down and starts to check me in.
The room is very spacious, I have an en suite (luckily), a TV, a large double bed and I can see myself having a very relaxing couple of nights here. I switch on the TV and catch the last ten minutes of Utd v Newcastle on ESPN. It's time for some food, so I find a pretty hip and cool coffee bar some 3 blocks away. Sadly, on the way I have to pass three or four bars where some very underdressed unattractive women are standing outside trying to tempt me in. Instead, they convince me to walk by and keep my arms to my side as I see them grab a couple of guys by the arms. This makes me sad. Are they really there because they want to be? Or do they have a habit that needs feeding? At least a run on the treadmill might tempt a few more local guys to pop in. Before I reach the coffee bar, I encounter a TV in the front room of someone's house and the guy watching the TV had stood up for the Spanish national anthem. He's watching the Coppa Del Rey and the town has emptied out. In central America and particularly El Salvador, they are huge Barca supporters. You either see a Barca shirt, cap or flag or a New York Yankees cap! Finally, I survive the brief walk and enter the great little coffee bar.
I sit in an outdoor area, the place has free wifi, and I order a very basic burger and fries, with a natural limonade and a coffee after my meal. There was some confusion as the waiter was asking if I wanted my coffee after my meal, but I had no idea what he was saying, luckily, a young lady interrupted and explained what he was saying.
Lunch took around two hours, you know when you've entered a cafe, you normally expect to receive your drink within a few minutes, well I waited thirty minutes! Good job they had wifi to keep me entertained! The food was delicious, the limonade perfect and the coffee came with cream.........but was pretty weak and covered in Cinnamon!
So I left the coffee bar, walked a different route back to my hotel and put my feet up for a while.
Seeing as I had a full day tomorrow in Santa Ana, I left exploring till the following day, I have got into the habit of watching Lost at 5pm, so I watched the episode from Series 6 then headed out to find an Internet cafe. An hour later I came back frustrated as the useless maps from the lonely planet guide failed me again, I wasn't really hungry so picked up some juice and tucked myself in for the night. Whilst watching some USA TV, I pottered around with my schedule, reading up about the places I have scheduled to go to. I read about these places in November/December of last year, so need to familiarise myself with why I want to go there.
I go to sleep after a relaxing day and look forward to another relaxing day tomorrow for my birthday.
Miles walked 1.94
Temperature 33C 92F
Day 106 April 20th My 29th Birthday - So, my 29th birthday! I'm sure my family find it difficult to believe I've turned 29, it's shocking how quickly time disappears, but I'm spending my birthday in Central America instead of buying a Caterpillar birthday cake from M&S and spending the day at work. Today is going to be a very very lazy day. I end up waking up for an episode of Criminal Minds at 7am, watch some more rubbish till 9am then head back to the coffee bar place for a birthday breakfast.
I'm overwhelmed by all by birthday messages I received. Still, my theory goes without a birthday card physically in my hands, I shall stay 28 for another year and I will certainly find another country to hide out next year for my 29th!! For breakfast I have a large sandwich, with some limonade and a cafe negro.
The day is going to be relaxing, no pressure to do anything except for finding a slice of birthday cake!! After breakfast I explored downtown Santa Ana. The town is shaped in a grid like fashion and is very easy to navigate. The majority of shop owners stand on the street encouraging you to visit their shop or shouting out some special discount sale they are having on a particular item.
I walk along one very long avenue where I find a street market selling all sorts of food items, clothes, etc.
On my way through this street, I spot a cake shop called Anthonys. I mean how perfect is that? Is is just coincidence I am spending my birthday in a town where there is a cake shop with my name or is this something freaky. Clearly a coincidence, but Anthony from 5 years ago would have believed it was some sort of destiny.
Still, I add the location to my memory and walk on, I don't want to purchase the slice just yet.....slice.....half cake.....whole cake.....we'll see!!
I head to the Parque Libertad and the Cathedral. The buildings are similar in style to Santa Rosa de Copan, small in size and height but an array of different colours and styles, old style windows and of course every window covered with metal grating.
The Cathedral was locked up and the parque
I stay in the area for a short while till the thought of the cake is eating away at me. I must go buy some cake! I walk into the shop, and try explain that it was my birthday today and that my name was Anthony....hoping for a free slice of cake, she just laughed at me, boxed up my cake and charged me!
I pretty much skipped my way back to my room, turned on the TV for Spurs v Arsenal and enjoyed my SLICE of birthday cake! The temptation for more was just not there!!
The cake caused a brief afternoon siesta before I spent some time at an Internet cafe to relax, look at some of the events for the Olympics, read some more birthday messages before I returned to my hotel, after passing a modern looking church.
My evening involved returning to the same cafe and ordering a spaghetti bolognese. If only I had found a curry house, then that would have been the most perfect day. It does not bother me that I spent the day by myself, by not catching a bus, by having some cake and from receiving lots of personal messages, it turned out to be a great day, so thank you to those who wished me a happy birthday. Maybe if I'm lucky, my brother who is on paternity leave,might bake me a cake?? Por Favor??
My evening involved some more murders on USA TV being investigated, it's similar to Jonathan Creek, you watch the first two minutes and have to watch the next hour to find out what happened.
Tomorrow, I will move over to Guatemala, but I promised myself not to plan it today, I can think about it tomorrow.
Miles walked 1 slice of cake
Temp 32C 90F
Day 107 April 21st - Again, for the 4th time I find myself at the coffee bar. Why not? The food was great, service friendly, and well, it had free wifi! I order some fried breakfast sandwich that came with a juice and a coffee.
I did the usual of packing my bag, checking the book and I set off for the bus station. I have to walk south 10 blocks and squeeze through small gaps in the market to find my school bus. This bus was heading to Ahuachapan. The ride is an hour before I'm kicked off. I'm on the wrong side of Ahuachapan for my next bus to Los Chinamas and the border with Guatemala. I ask another bus driver where my bus is located and it's three blocks away near the park. This bus was a mini bus and only took 30 minutes to reach the border. I walk down a steep hill and my passport is inspected by an El Salvador official. He asks if I have been to any beaches in El Salvador, I say no, my time was tight and showed him the underside of my arms and tell him I'm too white for too much beach action. He laughs and points me to exit immigration but again no stamp.
I walk across a bridge that connects the two countries. When I look down from from the bridge, there are dozens of people swimming/washing in the river below. Most of them were swimming, some guys were floating around pretty far away from the shore, the steep cliff makes for passing to Guatemala pretty impossible this way, but still an interesting image.