We left Anitigua, Guatemala via a shuttle and hit la playa at El Tunco, El Salvador around 6 hours later.
The mountains in Antigua and Honduras were great, but we were both looking forward to chilling at the beach for a few days. El Tunco is a popular surfing destination in El Salvador. Neither of us surf (yet!), but it was a great place for watching surfers!
The hostel we picked, la Sombre, was a short walk from the main (very short) road. A local who had hitched a ride on our shuttle recommended it as a non-party hostel. The kitchen was a little (a lot) gross,
but there was wi-fi, a private room (shared bath) with two beds, and a pool for $17 so we took it.
We threw our bags in the room, shook our heads at the people in the pool, and hit the beach. Once we got to the beach, we immediately realized why people were hanging in the pool. El Tunco beach is covered in rocks. Smooth, beach tumbled rocks, but rocks nonetheless. And the surf is rough. Great for surfing (thus its popularity), but not great for sunbathing and swimming.
Although tiny, like most popular surf beaches, El Tunco has a really cute main strip with a variety of shops and restaurants.
It also has a lively night life with a ladies night (translation: free rum) fiesta at a different bar each night. After a few cocktails, we called it a night and headed back to La Sombre. Unfortunately, our room, with only one tiny window had turned into a sauna. The heat was unbearable! The tiny floor fan was about as effective as one of those handheld carnival fans and the ceiling fan only worked if the light was on. Perched on the edge of the bed, I tried, to no avail,to reach and remove the lightbulb.
We tried leaving the door open to get some air circulating, but the overhead light was a beacon to the mosquito colonies cruising for dinner. I think Rhi was melting.
In desperation, we attempted to turn on the window air conditioning unit (it costs extra to use a/c). The spot that would normally have the control panel was covered in duct tape. I peeled that off to reveal a pulsing mass of wires surrounding what appeared to be an “on” button.
When I was a kid, I accidentally grabbed hold of an electric fence meant to corral horses. Every since then I have had a healthy fear of unidentified electrical wiring. However, at that moment, half naked, drenched in sweat, and gasping for cool air, I was convinced that instant death by electrocution outweighed slow death by heat stroke. I reached in and pushed … something.
Instantly, the unit roared to life. It was glorious! For three whole minutes we were in heaven. Three. Then the damn machine hiccuped, spit at us and began choking out hot stinky air. I pulled the plug, doused myself in Deet, grabbed a thin sheet off the bed and declared that I was sleeping in the hammock outside by the pool. It was one of the best night’s sleep of the whole trip thus far!
Having been deprived of dinner, however, the mosquitos were determined to get their revenge. The next day when I braved taking a shower…
[Side bar here: showering in Central America is an adventure. Many hostels promise agua caliente, but few deliver! Hot water showers are a luxury accompanied by risk of electrocution.
Showering generally involves sticking one brave body part at a time under a stream of freezing cold water, hopping around trying to deter hypothermia, while also not splashing your clothes that are hanging on the one nail jammed into the wall to serve as towel bar. Shampooing requires a mental pep talk and forget about having the strength to endure the torture long enough to apply conditioner.]
Anyway, I decided to brave a shower in El Tunco. The facility (I use that term quite loosely) at La Sombre is an open air model in the center of the hostel next to the toilet. After figuring out how to hang my towel, change of clothes and toiletry bag all on the one rusty nail/towel bar, I turned on the water and stripped off my clothes. I had one leg clean when the onslaught began. The mosquitos were out for blood. After the fourth bite in as many seconds I escaped only by subjecting my entire body to the freezing shower. I stood under the shower head turning slowly and looking in horror at the mosquitos lining up on the walls waiting for me to dare step away from the water.
I did manage to escape, but not unscathed!
Shower debacle aside, El Tunco was a beautiful place to spend two days. We strolled down the beach and, getting caught in a sudden downpour, had a great conversation with a fantastic bartender who was more than agreeable to help us practice speaking Espanol.
Having overstayed our time in Guatemala, we had little time to see much in El Salvador so we decided to leave El Tunco and spend a day and one night in San Salvador before going on to Nicaragua. The adventure continues…
Audrey and Rhiannon – traveling mosquito bait with heatstroke