After 2 1/2 weeks in Guatemala and Honduras it was time to head South into El Salvador. First stop, El Tunco.
La playa at El Tunco was a destination unlike any of the others we had yet experienced in Central America. One, it’s a beach. Hooray! Two, it ‘s in a new country – El Salvador – so we needed to sweat through another border crossing. No problem, though! At this point, Central American country number three, we felt like experts!
Unlike entering Honduras, we did not have to pay to enter El Salvador. We did get an exit stamp out of Guatemala, but no stamp showing entry into El Salvador because it is part of the CA-4 (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua) (which doesn’t make sense why we had to pay to leave Guatemala and pay to enter Honduras and got entry and exit stamps in Guatemala, but only a proof of payment in Honduras, but we weren’t about to argue with frowning Uzi toting border officials!).
Unfortunately, one couple on our shuttle did not breeze right through immigration. They had ridden a bus from Belize into Guatemala and did not get a stamp into Guatemala when they entered. (Apparently, no one on their bus got a stamp). They were stopped at immigration trying to leave Guatemala and enter El Salvador and ended up having to pay a $50 fine each. (They were able to negotiate it down from $100 each because immigration had already stamped their passports out of Guatemala and the couple said $50 each is all the money they had). While we waited the half hour for them to sort everything out, our shuttle driver got his shoes shined.
All in all, the ride from Antigua to El Tunco was interesting. For $30 each we caught an 8:00 a.m. shuttle in Antigua. On the way we passed two military checkpoints, but we only got stopped at one for a few minutes with no problem. Phew!
Much of the drive is through rolling farmed hills that looks like Pennsylvania. But, then, around a bend there would appear unexpected palm trees and Spanish style abodes along the road.
At the El Salvador border trucks were stacked up for miles. One driver even hung a hammock and took a nap under his truck while waiting to move!
Luckily, passenger vehicles don’t have to wait that long and before we knew it we were in El Salvador!
I thinks it’s fitting here to mention something about driving (or passengering) in Central America. Frankly, it’s best done with eyes closed and fingers crossed! You know that solid yellow line in the middle? Here, that’s the passing lane! Everyone passes each other. Trucks, busses, scooters….on windy, mounting overpasses…drivers just grab a quick look, slam on their horn and barrel forward! It’s nuts! This is the view from the shuttle, passing a truck, with another massive truck speeding our way.
After about 6 crazy hours on the road, two police checkpoints, one pee break and a border crossing, we finally made it to the la playa.
Life is good.
Audrey and Rhiannon – two border hopping beach babes looking forward to ladies night!