El Salvador At Last

Trip Start Jul 04, 2010
Trip End May 10, 2011

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Where I stayed
Posada Al Faro

Flag of El Salvador  , Ahuachapán,
Thursday, March 3, 2011

2km before Chiquimulita, Guatemala to Cara Sucia, El Salvador: 64.24km
Trip Alt: 357M

Max Alt: 213M
Ave Climb: 3%
Max Climb: 12%

It was still totally dark at 5:30AM and truck traffic on this stretch of road seemed extra heavy. Heading for El Salvador we presume. The plan for the day was cross the border at Cuidad Pedro de Alvarado / La Hachadura and find a hotel just on the El Salvador side.
Just after the cut off to Chiquimulita we followed the heavy truck traffic and a fork to the right in the direction of the El Salvador frontera (border). Up ahead the trucks disappeared into a cloud of dust, a precursor to the deteriorating road conditions. After several nose dives into pot holes Michelle noticed a passing truck driver honking and gesticulating wildly, pointing behind. Michelle could not see Dave so she pulled away from traffic as far a she could and stopped. Back in the distance she saw Dave trying to ride with one of his panniers in his hand. She rode towards him and it dawned on her that the extra pannier Dave was holding must be her pannier. The pannier had jumped off her bike while bounding down the bumpy dirt road.  Luckily, Dave was behind and saw it tumble. Michelle's bike was not feeling solid and the rear break was rubbing. But this was no place to do a repair, with killer trucks missing us by inches. We slowly continued as part of tight convoy, choking on the dust and exhaust. We wonder out loud if the road would be this bad all the way to the border of El Salvador. The road got worse before it got better. After about 8km, we emerged on to highway 2. As soon as we had room on the side of the road to work, we looked for the cause of the instability of Michelle's bike. The rack was loose after the wire repair of a broken weld (back in Mexico) began to fail. The wire had stretched and the rack was free to flop around. Dave had brought an extra hose clamp for just such an event and put it on. With a few more adjustments, the fix seemed to work. But the rack was looking pretty sad. 
9am and it was 38c/100F, hot hot hot, but all in all we were making good time. The road stayed a safe distance away from the serious mountains. It was good to be riding the bikes again. We hid out in an air conditioned convenience store and rested just before border. 

At the Guatemala side, we waited in line for 20 minutes before the friendly officer put a stamp in our passports. Money changers were hanging around with thick stacks of US dollars and asked us if we needed to change money. El Salvador's official currency is US dollars. We crossed the bridge to El Salvador and waited in the line there for 20 minutes for the official to stamp us in, no fees were needed to get into El Salvador on this land crossing. We both remember seeing the Immigration officer stamp our passports after checking us out on the computer. But now we don't see a stamp in the passport, perhaps he stamped something else next to our passports. We hope they have a record of us in their computer so we don't have any hassle when it is time to leave. Stand by. 
La Hachadura is a typical dusty border town on the El Salvador side and Michelle was ready to find a hotel. Dave thought this could not be 'town' already and insisted on going ahead to find La Hachadura. Michelle wondered why he didn't ask anyone to verify that town center was indeed a few km ahead. So Michelle asked some guys, they said right here are a few hotels and the next one is in about 9km. Dave still insisted 'town' was just ahead so we continued. Michelle just went along but was getting agitated.She was at the end of her energy and really didn't want to continue another meter further. Dave insisted on continuing. So Michelle pedaled off ahead and Dave silently followed. She stewed until she saw a discarded McDonald's cup on the road and broke the ice and said "I bet you are happy now!" meaning there must be a McDonalds in town. But Dave had not seen the cup and answered he did not think it was that far. We were clearly not comunicating!! Ten km further, we got to Cara Sucia and found a decent enough hotel. "Cara Sucia" which translates to English as Face Dirty. Hummm. There must be a story behind that name.

It was now 3:00PM and we had had a long hot day. Dave went out in search of food and came back with a roasted chicken from the store and a pupusas from the pupusaria. Pupusas are variant of a tortilla, thicker and stuffed with cheese, beans or meat. Pupusas originated in El Salvador. The ones we had were delicious and cost just 25 cents each, a filling and tasty bargain.

Yes, we made up and were happy to be in El Salvador.
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andrewjerome on

What a great way to see the country! Cool read.

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