El Salvador San Salvador El Tunco La Liber
The collectivo/van from San Pedro goes through Antigua and drops you off in Guatemala City where you can catch a bus to San Salvador, cost of the trip was $300 Q. You can do it by Chicken bus a lot cheaper but I was being lazy and wasn't into changing buses 4 times. The bus terminal in Guatemala City is in a rough neighborhood (the ticket counter had bars) but they were some of the nicest people I've met on the trip working there.
The trip took about 7 hours including a 2 hour stop in Guatemala City. Crossing the boarder into El Salvador was very easy. You go into Guatemala customs to check out of the country and then the El Salvador customs consists of a guy who looks at your passport and waves you through. No stamp in the passport.
I got into San Salvador at about 7pm, it was definatly not what I thought it would be. It is very North Americanized, Burger Kings, Pizza Huts, malls. I arrived the day after the elections, the rebels who fought against the government in the civil war won (FMNL) so internationally it was of interest to a lot of people. There were many journalists in town to cover the election, it was very cool to be there when history was being made.
I stayed at Ximena's Guest House in a dorm room. They are located in a very nice area of the city, one of the safest places in San Salvador. The cost for a bunk was $7.00 (the currency of El Salvador is US dollars). It is a couple of blocks from the largest mall in Central America, visiting a mall was not really part of my travel plans but I needed to get a pair of running shoes as mine got stolen in Antigua (not by a local, it was a tourist). The mall is very large, I only saw about 1/2 of it before I found the shoe warehouse at which point I purchased my shoes and got out.
I spent 2 nights in San Salvador. The first day I went for a walk, I think I logged about 20km. I started with the Zona Rosa District, there are some Museums in that area. I went to the Museo de Arte MARTE the cost to enter is $1.50. There is some incredible art all of it from El Salvador artists, there is some pretty angry art from the 1980's when the war was going on. I also wandered around outside the theater next door and then walked down to the Museum of Anthropology I didn't go, the enterance fee was $3.00.
Next stop was the historic district, I found a great little local bar, had a beer and went down to the cathedral and the National Palace where I ran into the local market. It is the biggest street market I have ever seen, it comprises about 8 blocks and it is very busy. You can get pretty much anything you would ever want here. Movies are 3 for a $1.00, CD's, they have cloths, shoes, produce, fruit etc.. During my 6 hour walking trip I didn't see any other noticable tourist which was kind of nice for a change. The locals in San Salvador are very friendly and nice everyone was smiling and saying hello, I did not have any issues in any of the places I went
The next day I took the chicken bus out of downtown El Salvador for 60 cents and went to La Libertad which is a 1 hour trip. I had to change to a different chicken to get to El Tunco which cost 25 cents and was a 20 minute trip. It is free if you can get a pick-up truck to stop and pick you up and safe, everyone was hitching rides in that area. I stayed at a hotel/hostel called Papaya's down by the beach. They didn't have any dorms available when I got there but if they did it would have been $7.00 a night. They did have a room with 2 beds and a private bathroom for $16.00 a night, I was traveling this part of the trip with someone so it worked out to $8.00 apiece. They have free WIFI and a full kitchen. El Tunco is a very small surf town, the majority of tourists here are El Salvadorians, it is very near to the capital and is very popular with them. There was also a holiday at the time, part of the whole 6 weeks of Semana Santa. The nightlife here is not a party all night kind of thing, a bonfire on the beach is about as crazy as it gets. Food in restaurants will run you about $2 - $3 for breakfast, dinners can ve anywhere from $3.00 for a burger to $9.00 for fresh seafood. While in El Salvador be sure to try out the national dish, pupusa's they are very tasty and cheap.
I took a surf lesson while I was there, I have surfed before but I am not very good at it so thought a lesson would be good to brush up on my technique. The lesson cost $15.00 for an hour. My instructor didn't speak English and my Spanish is not so good so there was much communication via hand signals. I asumed that he would take me to the nice little wave beach, this was not to be, I got taken to the big kid waves. Getting out involved a very long paddle session which my arms had issues with. The waves break on the reef, which I did not know so I didn't realize that putting your feet down was a bad thing. I got some cuts on my feet and lost some skin on 1 knee as well as a fat lip from the board when I came off and it hit me in the face. Despite the injuries it was great. The cost to just rent a board for the day is $10.00.
While in El Tunco I was interviewed for a documentary on tourism in El Salvador. I hope it is not one of those drunk North American tourists are bad pieces ;-)
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