El Salvador - El Tunco and San Salvador

Trip Start Jan 03, 2013
Trip End Jul 21, 2013

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Where I stayed
Papaya Lodge, El Tunco

Flag of El Salvador  , La Libertad,
Monday, January 28, 2013

We left for El Salvador on a shuttle bus from Antigua to the surf town of El Tunco on the pacific coast. It was a comfortable journey stopping at the border to get our El Salvador stamps before cruising down the beautiful coastal road. Sean was happy to see the sea again, especially as there is surf on this coast! Our first impressions of El Salvador is that this place is much drier and not as green and mountainous as Guatemala but many of the towns look similar. We arrived in El Tunco and it was roasting hot. A good 5-7 degrees hotter than Antigua. We decided to spend a few dollars extra and stay at Papaya Surf Lodge - a recommended place with nice room and ensuite as well as daily surf board hire and lessons for $10. We checked out the beach which to our surprise had black sand, probably due to the volcanic nature of this region.

Our time in El Tunco was very chilled with Sean having 3 surfs a day - pre-breakfast, late morning and late afternoon/sunset, the coolest times to be out. Alexa usually joined him on the beach to watch the sunset as it was just stunning setting into the sea to the west of the beach. Sean enjoyed the decent surf at El Tunco and the vibe out in the surf seemed friendly although it did get quite crowded with 25-30 people in the water. He was a little rusty to start with but soon got in the swing of it and it was great to get in the water again and to surf in board shorts.

Alexa had a surf lesson on our second morning in El Tunco and wasn't too sure about it. It was probably not helped by the board she had (just a big normal surf board, they didnt seem to have any of the normal learner foam boards) and also the local surf dude instructor who wasn't very patient. The waves were also a bit strong and very sandy, and she didn't enjoy being in the 'washing machine' when falling off the board. She may have better luck with another lesson in Nicaragua or Costa Rica! That afternoon we decided to walk up the beach to El Sunzal village, the other side of the main surf break at El Tunco. It was not touristy at all, with only local fisherman and a few little shacks. One was serving food, so we had lunch there and chilled in the hammocks for a couple of hours, reading and listening to music. Really relaxing and it was nice out of the scorching sun!

The next day, we decided to explore a bit and visit El Zonte beach which was 10 mins down the coast and more laid back/less touristy than Tunco. We waited for an hour until a chicken bus picked us up. We were in Zonte before lunch, it was a small village on a nice beach, with a few hostels and hotels but much less built up than Tunco. We discovered a nice hotel with a rooftop terrace, hammocks and a small pool, which we could use if we ate at the adjacent cafe. It was an amazing spot so Alexa chilled there and played surf photographer whilst Sean hired a board and went for a surf as the waves were decent and no one was in! A pleasant surprise. Sean stupidly decided to wear his cap when surfing to avoid the midday sun, however subsequently lost it after 5 minutes! We really enjoyed the day and had a little regret that we didn't stay there, but at least we did get to see it. When back in el Tunco, we had a nice BBQ dinner at a bar/restaurant close to our hotel, lots of tasty meat! We had a couple of beers at another bar and did some Spanish revision there to make sure we didn't let the things we learnt in Antigua slip before heading back to our hostel for some sleep.

Before we left El Tunco for San Salvador, Sean had another pre-breakfast surf - his last before hitting Nicaragua in a week or so. We headed up to the main road to catch the bus to San Salvador, the start of our journey to the Bay Islands in Honduras.We caught the direct local bus to San Salvador and it arrived into the capital city an hour later. We got a taxi to our chosen hotel - near the international bus station convenient for our early bus to Honduras. We checked in and went out into the hectic bustling streets of San Salvador. We checked out the options for the bus the next day and decided to go for the expensive bus at the better time but it was leaving later than we thought and meant that we wouldn't make it to the Bay islands that day as we had hoped.

We went for a wander in the crazy streets, walking through endless market stalls selling everything from fruit to mobile phone accessories. We stopped at a little cafe for lunch (much the the owners delight) and had a delicious lunch of chicken in a yummy sauce, rice and salad. We went on the hunt for an Internet cafe as we wanted to complete the blog for Guatemala and back up photos. 2 hours later we managed to finish it battling against slow connections and computers. We had debated about going out for a few drinks in San Salvador but with the bus ride being much more expensive than we expected, and the safest area in the city with the nicer bars was the other side of the city to where we were staying, we decided for a night in the hotel and ended up playing silly games of Alexa's kindle fire which was fun.  We caught the bus to the town of San Pedro Sula at 7am the next morning and were on our way to Honduras, the fifth country of our trip!
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