Sunny place for shady people

Trip Start Jun 27, 2009
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Trip End Jun 26, 2010


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Where I stayed
La Estancia

Flag of El Salvador  ,
Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Well my bus trip to El Salvador started uneventfully with a short mini-bus trip with a few others to the Tica bus terminal in Guat City. You know things are getting serious when you have three armed guards wandering around the bus terminal compound with shotguns (the weapon of choice for security in central america). The bus started off a bit late and arrived in San Salvador even later. It was supposed to arrive at 5pm but we didn't get to the city until around 6.30pm, way after dark. I had originally planned to stay on the bus into the city centre and stay in one of the hotels around there but after the majority of the bus including every foreigner got off in San Benito on the outskirts of the city, I thought it best to re-evaluate my plans. After talking to the bus driver who advised me to stay in San Benito, I quickly grabbed my stuff and hot-tailed it off the bus. Fortunately the only hotel around the bus stop wasn't too bad and only charged $12 USD for the night.

That evening whilst chatting to a Canadian couple in the bar I found out that the reason most coach lines don't run at night is because they are not paying the gangs protection money and thus the bus drivers are liable to be shot at night whilst driving the bus. It seems that most of the violent gangs that formed in California many years ago were deported by the US back to Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. On the whole they generally only traffic drugs and extort businesses so most travellers are safe, but it still put me on guard.

The next day I went into the city to check out the hotels near the bus station as I had an early bus to Manugua, Nicaragua two days later, also I had left my sombrero (hat) on the bus and was hoping I might get it back. Anyway I was certainly glad I had stayed the night in San Benito because whilst the western part of San Salvador is quite developed with shopping malls and western chains like pizza hut, the centre of San Salvador is absolute carnage. I have not seen a more run-down and decrepit place on my whole journey (except for maybe Belize City). I eventually found one of the hotels "recommended" in the guide book and after seeing the room I quickly fled. I couldn't even find the other hotel so after escaping to the bus terminal I worked on plan B. Fortunately the bus company had found my hat and would have it at the terminal when I left in two days time so all I had to worry about now was to find a place to stay. The guide book recommended a few other places around the north of the city near Boulevard Los Heroes so I caught another bus up there and managed to find a half decent hostel for a much cheaper price in a semi decent area. That evening I went out with two American guys who had been travelling up through central america and were heading to Honduras next. We went to what is apparently the coolest nightspot in San Salvador but we did get there a bit early and it was a weeknight so I can understand why the place was empty. We would have stayed longer but one of the other guys wanted to go back to the hotsel to use the internet to contact his girlfriend so we called it a night.

The next day I caught several chicken buses down to La Liberdad on the coast and caught up with Cal. One thing I love about buses in El Salvador is that they cost next to nothing. For example any bus trip around the city costs 20 cents US and my trip to the coast was only 80 cents in total for a bus that took me about 50km. Bloody brilliant!! The beaches in El Salvador have great surfing which was evident when I arrived, not least because the place is packed with lots of surfers from all over the world. Unfortunately the sand on the beaches is derived from the volcanic rocks and so is black which is not the greatest for sun bathing. I didn't go swimming which was fortunate because that evening I found out from 3 travellers, a Kiwi guy, a Canadian girl and an Argentinian guy that the water is very infectious because all the creeks empty into the ocean. They had all suffered several ear and throat infections and had been constantly pumping themselves full of the antibiotic Amoxycilin which is incredibly cheap at 10 US cents (or something like that). Wow, what people will do for the love of good surf!
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Comments

baotamphan
baotamphan on

Well done
Hi Jules,

Wow you are leaving a real adventure!
Worrying though about the gangs!
Saying that same kind of thing happenned to me in Senegal when I was doing volontary work....

We wished we were as lucky as you seeing the world!

All the best,

Bao-Tam & Roberto

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