Surfing and Sophistication in Salvador

In this blog I will talk about another small period from our time travelling around Central America. I am doing these in no particular so I may go back and write another blog about things we did before this.


The story starts with the 4 of us, Hebe, Rosie, Sam and I crossing the border to El Salvador. As the stamps accumulate in our passports, we get suspected more and more of being drug traffickers by border control. We spend 20 minutes persuading the man behind the desk that there is a Mexico exit stamp in Hebe’s passport but the Guatemala stamp has been put over the top of it and then, finally, we enter El Salvador. First things first, lunch. Pupusas, the national dish of El Salvador, are fried dough pancakes with a stringy cheese melted inside and any other fillings they have on offer (pumpkin, chicken, beef, an edible flower, garlic). I’d heard about these from Hebe and Rosie, who live quite close to El Salvador, but I’d never tried them; they’re delicious and you get a tub of pickled cabbage to add on top. The destination today is San Salvador, just a couple of hours bus journey we’re told, and its only just passed midday so we’re relaxing. As we munch our pupusas, someone notices the ice cream place over the road and we decide we’ve earned a pudding after a hard day sitting on busses. Of course, by the time we’ve finished our ice cream, its nearly half 4 and last bus to El Salvador leaves in 5 minutes. With memories of our last night spent at a border town (see previous post) we run and somehow end up first on the bus. Locals have a perfect sense of timing when it comes to busses and they always fill up completely 10 seconds before the bus leaves. Our 2 dollar (Salvador uses the US dollar) bus journey ends up being over 4 hours and after a long taxi journey we get to the hostel; a nice, small and cheap hostel owned by a norweigan photographer and her husband. For dinner we walk to the main road and admire the crazy selection of fast food, by the end of our stay in El Salvador I had eaten at a stupid amount of American fast food places- when in rome…
The next day, despite my Wendy’s burger breakfast, was extremely cultural. We visited the national anthropology museum which had an interesting section on migration in El Salvador going right from native American to modern day migration. One graph showed the number of El Salvadorean’s living in other countries and strangely there are more in Italy than in many central American countries. After this, feeling fully anthropoligised, we headed to the museum of modern art. Whilst it is the biggest and best in Central America (according to the lonely planet), it was still quite small and I only found a few paintings which I liked but modern art always seems to cause a debate which is fun. Leaving the museum we all decided sophistication was overrated, went to Dennie’s American Diner for lunch and then to Central America’s biggest shopping mall for flip flops and groceries.


Also during our stay in San Salvador we went to visit an art deco church, which looked very out of place amongst old colonial buildings. It was closed unfortunately so we never saw the supposedly magnificent inside. After that we got a bus journey out of the city to la Puerta del Diablo (the Devil’s door), a peak from which you can see the whole of San Salvador on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other (on a clear day). That night we visited an ‘irish bar’ which didn’t even sell Guinness and had Latin American heavy metal as the music of choice but still had a good atmosphere.


Our next stop was Playa El Tunco, our visit time seeing the Pacific during travel time. El Tunco is the surfing and partying capital of El Salvador but since we weren’t there on a Saturday we didn’t actually do much partying. Surfing however we had all mastered within hours. Our initial scrambles to stand up on the board quickly became graceful attempts at 180 jumps. Unfortunately were not successful due to never achieving the standing up part. This was probably due to not wanting to pay for lessons but after I broke 2 fins and paid a lot for them it wasn’t really an option. Eventually a local kid took pity, taught us a bit and I managed to stand up and ride a few waves. El Tunco was one definitely one of the most touristy places we visited; absolutely full of American surfers, hostel and hammocks.


As we were leaving to Nicaragua at 6 in the morning we got picked up by a pick-up truck, which took us all the way to San Salvador. This made for one of the best and cheapest journeys of the whole two months and karma soon hit us when got charged 5 dollars each for a short ride in a bike taxi. All in all El Salvador struck me as a fantastic country with friendly people who seem keen, as they do in Honduras, to prove that their country isn’t all that bad.


2 thoughts on “Surfing and Sophistication in Salvador

  1. Hi Leo
    Once again a great blog it’s nice to here how well you Sam and the rest are enjoying yourselves while undertaking a worthwhile project


  2. Hi Leo –
    I am looking forward to more updates from your Honduras experiences after this exciting travelogue dated 28th February …
    I have sent the link to your blog to Justine D’Ooge, via her mother Fran who is an old friend of mine based in DC. We all last met in Ecuador a couple of years ago.
    Justine, who lives in New Orleans, is doing a diving qualification course 7-14 May in Roatan – very soon – and they are staying, I think, at CocoLobo resort.
    I hope you might be able to meet up… will that be feasible ?
    (I wanted to go too, but other commitments got in the way).
    All good wishes, and I hope this bit of networking turns out well !


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