3 Countries in One Day!

This post is originally from February 15, 2013

So onward bound we go…540941_10152639742325434_218073826_n

I forgot to mention that while in El Salvador before we went on the death hike we first visited a coffee plantation. It wasn’t a guided tour, but we got to go visit the locals who were picking the beans and see how they worked. We got to see what it takes to make the coffee and export it. Every bean is literally plucked off the tree and most trees are on edge of the steep cliffs. The pickers precariously climb the mountains to pick the beans which takes so very long. Once their bag is full they go to the big scale at the top of the hill. For every 25lbs,  the picker gets a mere $1! It is back breaking work and it is so sad to see how much the price of coffee is jacked up overseas!
Anyway, the other day we left El Salvador bright and early and had to cross the Guatemalan border, only to drive for another 2 hours to cross the border into Honduras. Each border crossing takes time and has its hitches and bribes. This crossing wasn’t too brutal at all. When we arrived into Honduras we reached the town of Copan. Copan is famous for its Mayan Ruins. These ruins are the most ornate out of any of the ones in Central America and are really quite incredible. Unfortunately when I listen to a guide give detail after detail my A.D.D kicks in and I tend to drift off into my own world. 63963_10152645719065434_341604606_n
We spent quite a bit of time in this country…literally less that 24 hours. Copan felt safe and cute, but apparently Honduras is the most unsafe country in Central America. Perhaps eating at a restaurant with signs that prohibit guns and knives makes you realize that yes…perhaps there is a bit of violence in this country. When trucks pass back through the border the guards make the drivers remove the massive tires so they can check for any drug trafficking.
Yesterday we came back into Guatemala, drove through the slums of Guatemala City and finally came to the picture perfect town of Antigua. Antigua is a really cute town with cobblestone streets and so much character. Just walking around listening to locals play the flute, makes me really feel like I am in Central America. Last night was time to rock out to salsa. Not the kind you eat…we took dancing lessons. It was a lot of fun. Our instructor was this little Hispanic man with crazy slicked hair and stood probably 5 foot nothing! Having him spin me was a bit of an effort as I had to bend my knees and basically duck under his armpit. Good thing I am flexible!
After our dance extraordinaire it was a final night with our group. It is always sad as we really develop a bond over the weeks. Our ride in the minivan yesterday was like a group of children fighting. We are all at a point where it feels like family and instead of being polite, it is bickering and laughter. Thankfully we are easing ourselves out of our group. The Aussie couple, a Swiss girl and Michelle and I are staying an extra two nights in Antigua so we got a hostel room together here in town.
Anyway, until next time…

Shall we have a taco in Ataco?

This post is originally from February 13, 2013
So much to tell about the last few days…406795_10152639611720434_1893520363_n
I will start with where I left off (how appropriate). Back on San Braziles Island I forgot to mention a proposition that one of my friends got. So this place that we were staying was a hostel which had other traveler there with our group.   On the second day,  a skinny french dude in dreadlocks with fingernails that were super long showed up. He seemed nice enough but there was something kind of dodgy about him. The Australian couple who we’ve really become good friend’s  (Tom and Katherine)  were talking to him about their upcoming travels. They are heading to Cuba. This dude was like “I know of a way that you can get a free flight to Cuba”. Oh really how???? “Well all you have to do is carry a bag full of clothes and they will pay for your flight”. Obviously he wants them to be drug mules and when they questioned him on it, he insisted that it was totally legit and legal. He insisted and gave them the email of the lovely fellow who could get them into Cuba for free! Hmmmmm. That’s a first.

That’s me trying to tempt a small child into my snare…

The night before we left a friend and I went to the beach to see the phosphorescence glow in the water. I am not sure if you have experienced this before but it is absolutely amazing. I remember seeing this in Australia. I am unsure of the scientific explanation but basically the algae in the water glow when you move in the ocean in the dark. It kind of looks like when you are in the dark and your blankets spark with static. With the stars shining so bright above me and the moon shining off the wet sand I felt like I was in a dream. Did I say it was beautiful there?
The next day we set off on a 14 hour journey. The day was long, but it was such a great day. When we had to cross from Nicaragua into El Salvador we actually crossed a bay that from the centre we could see Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras at one time. We took a speed boat across the bay and about an hour and a half later arrived in El Salvador. Our first stop was a town called Suchitoto. With a name like this I thought I had arrived in Japan. But domo arigato Mr Robato…no, it was El Salvador.
Yesterday we moved on to another town called Ataco. Here is another sleepy town, and by that I mean that hardly anything is open. Tourism has really not touched this country and we are definitely seeing the back roads of Central America. Last night we ate a typical Salvadorian meal of pupusas. These are little cakes the same shape as a green onion cake that in the middle have a variety of things in them (cheese, spinach, beans, squash). They are then fried and you eat them with pickled salad and some sauce. Delish!!!!!
This morning we drove about 2 hours in a 4×4 vehicle to a remote area. Here we hiked where literally there were no trails. We were told that we are probably the first tourists in the area. Ripping down trees and branches to get through, as well as crouching under huge branches were not an uncommon occurrence.
At one point we had to pull ourselves up by the roots of the trees. Hiking in my Toms shoes was a bit of a challenge once again, but I made it out in one piece. The scenery was amazing. There was even a place we could see that had Mayan ruins that haven’t been excavated.  Because the country doesn’t have the money to uncover the ruins it lays there untouched. It would have been a 15 hour hike to this site, but we could see the views from where we were. From there we made our way to El Salvador’s most beautiful beach. 28 km of soft sand. Again, getting to this location you needed a 4×4 vehicle and also a guide as it is so remote. Driving past little villages was very cool. Here the guide actually fished himself and served the food for us. Being vegetarian I obviously I opted out of the fish but was impressed, all the same. The waves had some major undertow, but it was hilarious to be pummeled by them.

Off to Central America

This post is originally from January 28, 2013

Hey Everyone,
Well, it is that time again. Time when the excitement of Christmas and holidays have worn off. When icy roads and bundling up becomes old news. And when all my scrimping and saving has come together and I am lucky enough to head somewhere warm and full of new adventures. Yes my friends, I am traveling down to Central America tomorrow. I am going with a friend of mine, Michelle – and we will start off in Costa Rica where we will meet up with another G Adventure tour. From there we will travel through Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and finally Guatemala. The last week will be solo…or should I say duo – and the two of us will have to make our way back to Costa Rica; but in the mean time we will go where ever the wind may take us.
I am pretty sure there are no camels there, so you don’t have to worry about me falling off again. And after my near sexual assault disaster in India I have learned to never go into a dressing room alone with a man. So hopefully my stories can take you on a ride with me sans near death or dismemberment. 🙂
Tally ho, or should I say Adios!
The G Adventures Tour I will take – Backroads of Central America