Friday, 8 November 2013

252 Onto El Salvador

Monday 4th November 2013
Miles Today 111 Total 27,007

We had been told about Chiquimula by the Germans we met in Belize. They said it was worth a visit. So set off for what is a relatively short 110 mile ride. The journey was uneventful and we arrived at around 2pm and found a McDonalds. Now I am not a great advocate of Maccy-Ds but today it was an oasis in the desert. 
The 'restaurant' is in a mall type area where we had to collect a ticket on the way in and produce it to get out to stop car thieves. This was actually unlikely due to the look-out tower in the middle of the car park and the pump action shot gun the guard in it was holding.
The car park actually had a bike park too as bikes, albeit small ones, are more popular here than cars. Probably due to poverty but everyone seems to have one including all the girls. Also the legal age to be able to ride them seems to be about 10 !

The bike park. Wallace was around 5  times the capacity of the next largest bike.

After Maccy-Ds, we went in search of a hotel we had previously selected. The Hernandez Hotel. We found the rear entrance but could not see the front. It turns out after asking several people that it is just an almost unmarked opening in a wall. Still we got in and the reviews on the internet were obviously written my the owner, but it was OK, especially for £16 per night.
We then did what we do best and went in search of beer and food. One out of two wasn't too bad. We found a nice bar but food was a different matter and I ended up having some sort of meat filled tortilla from a street vendor and Karen took a rain check and went hungry.

Tuesday 5th November 2013
Miles Today 1 Total 27,008

To day was a catch up day. We sorted out our washing and found a 'Lavanderia'. 60 GTQs (£5) later and it was done. I also took the opportunity to give Wallace a wash. There was no hose handy so the hotel owner told me to take the water from a large clear tank. On looking in to get the water there was a huge 20" Coy Carp and a few smaller friends swimming around just waiting to suck the dirt off of Wallace (No I didn't !). 
I also took the opportunity to change Wallace's oil whilst no one was looking. I do not think they would have been too impressed if the saw me. Anyway, whilst draining the old oil back into the now empty oil bottles, I came across the washer for the sump plug. It had dropped off, without me seeing it, into the old oil. Brilliant, the new oil was in and I had to remove the sump plug, put the washer back on and reinsert it. A difficult job to say the least. Then I had a moment of clarity, laid Wallace on her side so the oil drained away from the plug and sorted it in about a minute. Phew......

The central park opposite our hotel

The bandstand in the park

We then decided to finally get some grub and on the advice of the hotel found this place where we had a scrumptious pizza and accompanying beer. All for £16, nice.

Great Pizza. A gift from God...

Wednesday 6th November 2013
Miles Today 162 Total 27,160

Break for the border time. Our stay in Guatemala had been relatively disappointing.  There was nothing bad about the place but it was not as happy go lucky as Mexico and Belize had been. Having said that we did not at any point feel unsafe, so not all bad.
Need I say more. She is the  Maddona....
The roads to the border were going downhill fast. (Not literally)

Anyway, a short 50km ride south to El Salvador and the flavour changed dramatically. 
The exit from Guatemala was a bit fraught with me running backwards and forward to get photocopies but aside from that there was no major drama. We certainly did not have to pay any fees (aside from £1 for copies) and after Wallace had her numbers checked we changed the last of our Guatemalan money for US dollars as are used in El Salvador and crossed over the border.
Entering El Salvador was like turning a light on. We were gestured to pull over by a pretty immigration officer with a huge smile. She showed us exactly what we had to do and where to go. Karen understood her Spanish whilst I just stood there with my mouth open.
Our passports were not stamped but just scanned. A major step forward on it's own. Getting Wallace imported was a simple but slow process, mainly because the first customs officer was stuck in 1st gear, mentally and physically. The second guy was more normal and on checking Wallace's VIN we were laughing and joking with him. Again, no money was passed over at all. We were then free to go.
1/2 a mile up the road we were stopped at a police check point. The officer, in English, wanted our "passports, driving license and our identification". Not all in that order I hoped !
Anyway, we got the passports out and I pulled the trump card and slipped in, in Spanish, that we were retired Police officers. That did the trick and the smile appeared. He glanced over the passports and forgot the rest. He asked us how much Wallace cost and nearly hit the floor when we told him. He then asked how fast Wallace went and I jokingly held my lips together which made them laugh all the more. I then told them about 200kph and he came back with the speed limit being 90kph in El Salvador. We parted friends. El Salvador seems to be a big step up in friendliness.

It was then on to a large town called Santa Anna for lunch. We parked Wallace by the side of the main square and visited the cathedral. 
Inside the Cathedral

..and outside the cathedral.

After that it was food time and we found a Chinese restaurant. We both asked for a bowl of fried rice with chicken. We thought it a bit odd when the Chinese chef came out to confirm we wanted two of the meals to which we naturally replied, yes.  What we did not realise was that each order was actually for two people and this was the result.
What am I going to do with all this ????
Using the hole in the wall without getting off the bike. The height of laziness.

We then set off for the Pacific coast hoping to find a hotel to rest our weary bodies. Sadly, there were none and we had to ride 50km of twisty mountain roads in the pitch black. Not a good idea !
As it started to get dark we were mobbed by cattle. They are so cute and taste even better.

Our first view of the Pacific at dusk.
 We eventually made it to a place called La Libertad (The Liberty) and found what would appear to be the best hotel in town and paid the princely sum of £33 for the night.
The hotel had a bar and restaurant so we got a couple of beers and ordered a broccoli soup and a shrimp cocktail. I do not know whether our Spanish is faltering but when my soup turned up it looked more like a someone had stolen one of the film characters from the deep, in Pirates of the Caribbean, cooked it and stuck it on a plate.  There was all manner of crusty and squidgy things that hail from the depths of Davey Jones' locker. I looked at the waiter and said "No es, broccoli ?" (That's not broccoli). He replied saying he had run out of broccoli soup so the chef decided I needed a basket full of the 'Worlds deadliest catch'. It was huge, ugly and looked for all the world like it would attack me at any moment. I sent it back and had a spaghetti.

It was then off to bed for some nautical nightmares.

Thursday 7th November 2013
Miles Today 44 Total 27,204

We decide to stay another day here. The sea was at the back door and the sun was out. What more could we want.
The black beach.
We popped into a beach restaurant behind the hotel  and whilst looking at the soups and other simple dishes the chef came over and started to point out the expensive lobsters. No amount of dissuasion would put him off, especially after last nights deep sea nightmare. After a few minutes he turned up with this - fortunately not cooked.

I have my eyes one you !!!!
 We managed to order calamari and chicken in the end.

Idyllic setting for lunch.

Whilst waiting for our food we had the usual raft of beach sellers trying to sell us all manner of things. The one that shocked us the most was the guy selling turtles eggs. I recognised them form many years ago in the Amazon. He had about 50 of them in a basket, still covered in sand and he had blatantly just dug them up. Sad but true.

Then it was time for a paddle - almost.

After lunch it was a wander along the black beach. The area is volcanic and the sand is pulverised volcanic rock.
A grackle popped by the pool for a drink.
 Tomorrow we travel further south towards the border of Nicaragua and hopefully spend a couple of nights at a beach lodge where turtles regularly lay eggs on the beach.

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