We went to Coban (in Guatemala) and then went to stay in Lanquin. For the first time since we've been away it rained practically non stop for 4 days, this had an adverse effect on the place we wanted to visit near Lanquin, called SemucChampey. Normally there are beautiful bluey, green swimming 'pools' within the river near a natural Limestone bridge that change colour with the sun. There are also caves that you can usually walk through. However, due to the amount of rain the pools had turned into a muddy brown fast river and the caves had filled with water. As Paul and I had travelled quite a distance to visit Lanquin and SemucChampey we decided that since the weather seemed to be clearing up that we would go and see what we could do and it turned out that if we could swim it was ok to visit the caves. So after a scramble up a steep muddy path to the entrance of the cave (the normal path was submerged in the swollen river) we entered the cave with a candle in one hand (swam with the other) and started our journey through the cave
. At one point we had to swim against the current which was a bit difficult one handed but we got safely to the other edge of the cave and then climbed up a rope ladder. Our guide confirmed that we couldn't go any further as there was too much water (you could hear it thundering away in the background so we were quite glad we didn't go any further) and we came back the same way to the entrance. Instead of taking the muddy path back we had to clamber through gushing waterfalls which was 'interesting' to say the least, but we got back to the truck safely and had a laugh with the others (gringos) about what we had done and that we were glad we hadn't headed up to the 'brown' pools. The weather started to clear up in the afternoon and we had some lovely views of the lush green countryside with all the hills in the background, as there was mist hanging around the scenery was similar to that in the film Gorillas in the Mist.
The next day we decided to head right down through Guatemala to get us near the border with El Salvador and ended up spending the night at a town called Chiquimula. It was a huge change for us to be in quite a modern place after spending a long time in small vilages and towns - they even had a supermarket (with all the christmas things in). We had a luxurious room with Cable TV, soap, towels and a private bathroom (we've not had a room like that for a while either).
Monday was border crossing day so Paul and I headed down to Anguitla (on the Guatemalan side) had our passports stamped out - the border official wanted to charge us $5 US but we refused (as it just goes in his back pocket and it's not necessary to pay any money) and carried on to obtain a stamp in to El Salvador (our 5th country on this trip). El Salvador is home to the Pupusa (mentioned on one of our other travelogues) and they make this yummy stuffed tortilla practically everywhere so we had a couple as we crossed the border. We then took a bus to Santa Ana and stayed in another lovely place which had painted countryside scenarios in each room and in the courtyard. Paul even got to hold the parrot. Santa Ana is a smallish city/large town and has a really ornate Cathedral that is beautiful on the outside although its going through renovations at the moment so was difficult to see all of it's interior. After a good walk around the town (full of Pizza Huts, and lots of fast food chains) we went back to watch cable TV - it's a luxury!!! Later on we gave into the fast food but instead of going into one of the large chains we ate at a small street vendors who made yummy hamburguesas. When you've been having beans, chicken/beef, rice and tortillas for a few weeks it makes a nice change.
The next day we headed to Lake Coatepeque which is a really pretty lake about 1 hour south of Santa Ana. We stayed in a nice, friendly, family run place called Amacuilco which was on the lake side
. We had our own little balcony with some fantastic views of the lake and the surrounding volcanoes. After checking in quite early we headed up to Cerro Verde National Park on the local bus (buses are really cheap and run all the time its normally about 40p for an hours ride). The national park is set atop a dormant volano and you can see various volcanoes in the surrounding area, one of which is Santa Ana. Unfortunately we arrived too late to actually climb one of the surrouding volcanoes so we had a good walk around the national park on the 'nature trail' and had a picnic lunch of pupusas and bananas at one of the view points. It was so sunny and the view was fab, really glad that we made the effort to come to El Salvador as well - very few tourists and fantastic countryside. Returning to the entrance of the park we looked out to the south of El Salvador and you see the ocean (Pacific) and the flat valleys against the stark contrast of volanoes (some lush green, others black and smoking) and the mountains. We spent the evening on the balcony having beer, wine and lovely food (fresh fish), the two little girls served us, frequently coming to ask us, algo mas?? (anything else) - they were really cute.
We spent this morning reading and sunbathing on the jetty whilst looking out onto the lake then we caught several buses to get us to Suchitoto (one of which came straight through the capital city San Salvador, which was busy and noisy). We arrived here this afternoon and as there is a lovely lake here we went to have a look and ended up having a beer in a garden overlooking it
. The lake is gorgeous with lush green countryside and surrounding hills. The town is small, friendly and very relaxed with cobbled streets and little traffic - it reminds us a little bit of France.
On Wednesday morning we went down to look at the lake and had a bit of a walk round, they seemed to be building a 'Turicenter', Paul and I hope that this won't spoil the town of Suchitoto. We left Suchitoto midday and arrived in San Vicente 3 hours later. After a quick look around and a look at the uninspiring and expensive hotels we decided to catch a bus to Ilobasco, a town north of San Salvador. We arrived late into Ilobasco and found somewhere to stay but it wasn't the best room we've stayed in although there wasn't much choice. As we were quite tired from all the travelling we stayed in and watched TV and had a few beers. The town of Ilobasco didn't really appeal to us in the morning (especially as we'd been spoiled by Suchitoto) so we decided to move straight on towards the border. Several chicken buses later we arrived at the border with Honduras (El Poy) and paid our $3 entrance fee into Honduras....
Hello all from El Salvador, We are now in a picturesque little town called Suchitoto north of San Salvador.