Loaded down with our bags, Audrey and I walked to the edge of the short street that is home to practically everything in El Tunco. We were on the lookout for bus 102A to San Salvador. After standing at the edge of the street for about ten minutes, we saw it barreling down the road towards us. We flagged it down, loaded inside, paid the $1.50 fare and were off. Although it’s only a short hour ride to San Salvador, we had no clue where to get off – the bus just stops on the side of the road, after all.

Rather than chancing it and getting off in a dodgy area, Audrey asked the lady sitting next to her which exit “la feria” was. Curt and obviously annoyed that Audrey had dared ask her a question, she responded that it was at the end of the line. Clarifying, Audrey quizzically asked in Spanish if she had understood correctly, and that we were indeed getting off at the end of the line. “Si,” the woman responded.

At each stop, the bus lost more and more passengers. Finally, with only a handful of people left, the bus pulled into the chicken bus station – which was clearly not “la feria.” Not wanting to be left to our own means at the dodgy chicken bus station, Audrey and I frantically asked the bus driver where “la feria” was. He promptly took us to a taxi and helped us get everything sorted. For $7 total, we drove ten minutes and the cab dropped us off along the route we had just passed. Grr, thanks for the help, lady from the bus!

Since we had an early bus ride the following morning, we decided to stay at the Hotel Meson de Maria. It had good recommendations from the man who arranged for our tickets in El Tunco (from San Salvador to Estelí). We walked up to the reception and inquired about a room. $32 for a room. That was nearly double what we had paid in El Tunco! We thanked the receptionist and walked down the street to Wendy’s and used their wifi.

Unfortunately for us, there were no hostels or hotels that were close for much cheaper. We decided to suck it up and go back to the Hotel Meson de Maria. We had filled out all the paperwork and were pulling out our wallets to pay as the receptionist asked what Tika Bus number we were on the following morning. We informed her that our tickets were through Tranporte del Sol. Apparently this hotel has an arrangement with Tika Bus. Since we were traveling with a different company, the rate went up to $45 per night. No way. We arranged for one of the independent taxis outside of the hotel to take us to JoAn’s Hostel for $2 a person. (If you’re ever traveling in Central America and need a taxi, mototaxi, tuk-tuk or anything else other than a bus, negotiate! Gringos are quoted higher prices, but if you refuse to pay their inflated price, you can usually get them to go down. In this particular instance the taxi went down 43%, from $7 to $4.)

JoAn's

As the taxi pulled up to JoAn’s Hostel at Calle del Mediterraneo No. 12, it seemed we were at a private residence. The driver rapped on the door and a young man named Rigoberto answered. We were escorted inside what definitely looked more like a home than a hostel.

JoAn's Hostel

Audrey and I took a minute to look around and liked what we saw.

Holy Satellite

There was a lovely patio outside, complete with a satellite fit for communicating with aliens. Rigoberto went through a small door and rolled up a canvas type thing to reveal a reception desk and office. We paid $30 total for our own private room and set out to explore the city in the few hours we had left.

Basílica Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe

Ask anyone, San Salvador does not have much. Locals and fellow travelers alike will caution you to stay away from the capital. Not only is crime rampant, there is nothing to see. The biggest highlight of the city: the mall. Audrey and I passed the beautiful Basílica Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe on the way to the main road to catch a chicken bus to the mall.

I think it’s funny that our destination was the mall. It’s certainly not a place you put on your bucket list to visit while in Central America, but it made for an interesting day none-the-less.

Bulevar Monseñor Romero

The Metrocentro (mall) is along the Bulevar Monseñor Romero, which is an incredibly busy highway. It consists of six lanes of constant traffic and is fed by many other routes, so it’s always busy. Therefore, it is impossible to cross the road. This handy dandy bridge solves that problem! It’s a rickety structure made of concrete and metal; there are some holes in the concrete as you’re walking above the highway, so you definitely have to watch your step!

Rigoberto gave us directions to the Metrocentro, so we crossed the pedestrian bridge and asked a lady on the other side which bus we needed. She sent us back to the other side of the highway. After getting back to where we originally were, we asked another lady which bus to take. The first lady thought we were going to Metrosur, not Metrocentro. The second lady sent us back over the bridge to catch bus 29. We caught the bus for a quarter, and less than five minutes later we were walking into the mall. We could have easily walked!

The mall was like any mall you’ll find in the States. It definitely had a similar feel to it, too. It was full of several American shops and eateries. The biggest difference between there and the US was the price; import fees made the prices skyrocket.

Taco Stand

Amazing Tacos

After grabbing some grub at an amazing local taco shop (we refused to go to the Taco Bell right next door), we perused the Metrocentro.

World Cup at the Mall

The highlight for me was the World Cup game. There were big, flat-screen tv’s with plenty of seating spread all throughout this huge mall. Who says you can’t shop while still keeping up with the games? ;)

We left the mall and needed to buy a few items at a grocery store. There was a Walmart right behind the mall. Neither Audrey nor I are fans of Wallie World, but there were some things we had to get. It was going to be dark soon, and San Salvador wasn’t somewhere we wanted to be roaming around too much anyhow. We bit the bullet and went in.

Support Brasil in WalMart

Unless you’ve been there, it’s hard to imagine how big ‘soccer’ is south of the US. The World Cup made the entire city come to a screeching halt in Copán Ruinas, Honduras, and while San Salvador kept on moving, support was everywhere (even Walmart)! All of the sample girls were wearing Brasil shirts and jerseys.

Meeting Steven and John

We rounded the corner and heard a couple of guys speaking English. When they discovered that we spoke English as well, we somehow ended up all high-fiving, hugging and making quite a scene with our excitement about finding fellow English-speaking foreigners. It sounds silly, but there is an instant bond with someone you meet who speaks the same language while traveling.

Steven and John were stationed in San Salvador with the U.S. Navy. They ultimately gave us a ride back to JoAn’s Hostel and met up with us later again that evening. Thanks to Audrey for the photo (and the one of the bridge) by the way!

New Friends

Along with Rigoberto and a Colombian also staying at the hostel, we all went out to a taco stand for dinner and came back to hang out for the remainder of the evening.

Like so many times before, San Salvador proved to us that what makes an impression and makes a place amazing is not the city nor the food. It’s the kindness of strangers, the lives of the people who live there and the friends you meet along the way. We were excited about our next Nicaraguan adventure, but sad to leave the city we thought we’d need saving from as well as the people we met along the way.

Central American country number four coming up soon! Nicaragua or bust!

Our two days in El Tunco were lovely. It is a quiet little beach town known for its amazing surf. Therefore, there are hundreds of travelers who trek to this small village on the coast of El Salvador to go surfing. Locals and foreigners alike paddle out to sea each day to catch a few good waves. Even though it was the wet season (May to October), dozens of surfers were in the sea. Since coastal areas are warm all year round, El Salvador is a great place to enjoy the beach, whatever the season. (Temperatures average between 72 and 90°F all year – or between 22 and 32°C.)

El Tunco I

Playa El Tunco is 100 percent a beach town. It is absolutely tiny. This is the main strip that leads to the beach. Everywhere you look, people are walking around donned in only a swimsuit with a surfboard in hand. The beach town itself is dotted with a few hostels, bar/restaurants, and shops to buy touristy trinkets or beach gear.

At night, different bars take the limelight. A different venue every night has a “ladies happy hour” – usually from 10 PM to midnight, where ladies drink free – as much as they want. It’s crazy. As you can imagine, every night the bar with the special is absolutely packed!

Coconuts

In El Tunco, you can buy as many coconuts as your heart desires.

El Tunco, El Salvador

Even though the beach is rocky, it is still absolutely beautiful.

El Tunco - A Surfer's Paradise

Beach at El Tunco

Surfers in El Tunco

One great thing about being in Central America for the wet season was being there when the storms rolled in. It was pretty incredible how fast it could go from sunny and clear to dark and stormy – the weather would change in a matter of minutes. However, on the flip side, that was also a negative thing. That afternoon we were walking along the desolate coast and suddenly a huge storm rolled through.

Rain in El Tunco

We took shelter at a little bar with only a little tent-type thing as cover. We still got soaked, but it was better than nothing. It’s a bit hard to see, but you can see the rain clinging to the chairs and to the surfer if you look closely. This local was always surfing.

Surfing El Tunco I

As soon as the storm cleared, he was back in the water again.

Ricardo and I

While we were at the little bar, Audrey and I had a nice chat with Ricardo, the bartender. It’s always interesting trying to chat when you know little Spanish and your new friend knows little English. Hang signals are a must, but generally you get the point across. :)

Toilets in Salvador

Before we went back to our hostel, we decided to use the bathroom. I’ve had quite a few interesting experiences with bathrooms in Central America, and this one adds to my ever-growing list. The wooden door on the left is for women. I should add that it does not lock. Obviously, the urinal on the right is for men. Imagine my surprise when I was using the toilet and I hear a man come in, pee right next to my stall and then leave. It was a very interesting bathroom design to be sure!

Pupusas

Our final night we found a pupusa stand. Pupusas originated in El Salvador, and they are delicious! They are a corn tortilla filled with your choice of ingredients: cheese, pork, chicken, beans, jalapeños, mixed, etc. A cabbage slaw with red chilies and vinegar goes on top. We first had pupusas in Honduras, and were ecstatic to have them again in El Tunco.

Playa El Tunco

The following morning, we packed our bags and headed to the capital, San Salvador. Even though the hot, sticky nights were less than pleasant, we were sad to be leaving this lovely town. Nevertheless, it was time to continue the adventure. Check back soon to read about San Salvador!

Às vezes tirar um milhão de fotos é uma coisa ruim. Eu tento não bombardear todos com um monte de fotos, pois muitas fotos podem demorar um pouco para carregar em alguns computadores – então sou muito seletiva com as fotos que partilho em posts. (Embora você possa sempre ver o álbum de fotos!) Porém, apesar de pensar que não deva compartilhar todas estas incríveis fotos, este post é principalmente a minha coleção da vida em Copán Ruinas. Não é uma compilação de atrações turísticas, coisas que o nosso pequeno grupo fez, ou lugares fantásticos para ver enquanto estavamos lá. É simplesmente a vida daqueles que chamam Honduras a sua casa. Por isso, é o meu favorito. Espero que aprecie as fotos e histórias tanto quanto eu gostei de as tirar e as viver!

Voltando a conversa, Audrey e eu ficamos presas em Honduras – durante uma noite pelo menos. Optamos por pegar o ônibus Hedman-Alas no dia seguinte, em vez de pagar mais do que o dobro para a primeira classe, nós voltamos para o hotel, Via Via.

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Nós nos cruzamos com esta pequena estrutura do tipo gazebo. Era totalmente aberta exceto a parede do fundo, que tinha um pequeno bar com uma geladeira enferrujada com dois tipos de cerveja hondurenha. Audrey e eu entramos casualmente para o interior e ela pediu uma “Salva Vida”. Além de sermos as únicas mulheres neste bar com cerca de vinte homens Hondurenhos, eramos também as únicas pessoas estrangeiras. Sem problemas, com normalidade, pegamos um par de cadeiras e nos sentamos em uma das mesas.

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Estou bastante certa de que os assentos nas cadeiras deste pequeno bar eram feitos de couro de cavalo, mas poderiam ter sido feitos de um tipo diferente de couro. De qualquer maneira, elas eram surpreendentes. Afinal, quantas vezes você vê uma cadeira feita de couro em casa?

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Audrey orgulhosamente exibindo a sua “Salva Vida”. Você vê o cara para á direita da foto? Era tudo assim neste bar. Homens hondurenhos casualmente em pé contra um parapeito, vestindo com seus chapéus de cowboy, saboreando uma cerveja gelada com os amigos.

Pode ver também a área gramada à esquerda da foto? Aí estava uma das aberturas e era um lugar popular. Um bar sem banheiros pode tornar-se um problema quando o álcool está envolvido. Não para estes homens! Pelo menos quatro homens despreocupadamente foram fazer as suas necessidades nesse barril em algum momento durante a nossa curta estadia.

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Esta foto mostra o caminho para a estação de ônibus. Está bem próxima das Copán Ruinas e mostra uma casa local com uma moto táxi estacionada em frente e um pequeno estabelecimento ao lado, provavelmente o negócio de família. Foi uma caminhada muito boa, pacífica. Provavelmente o motorista do táxi parou em casa para um almoço rápido, ou tinha acabado o seu serviço naquele dia.

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Mais perto da cidade, passamos por um caminhão cheio de passageiros. Se você quer uma ideia de como é em Honduras, este é um grande exemplo. Honduras é cheia de caminhões, cavalos e chapéus de cowboy. Geralmente você encontra os homens da geração mais velha em cavalos usando orgulhosamente os seus chapéus de cowboy. As gerações mais novas tendem a usar bonés de basebol e a andar na parte de trás dos pick-ups, mas as mulheres e os homens mais velhos pegam caronas às vezes também.

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Este é um restaurante local no final de uma rua no coração da cidade de Copán Ruinas. Vêem o sinal de paragem á esquerda? É um sinal de paragem real, não é apenas decoração. Este homem está se preparando para abrir o seu negócio.

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Honduras é assim mesmo! O moto táxi decorado com figuras de apoio á equipe hondurenha que joga na Copa do Mundo, estacionado na praça central.

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A vista para a praça no centro das Ruinas. Veja embaixo mais fotos da -vida- nas Copán Ruinas.

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Há um mercado criado aos domingos, onde as pessoas podem comprar e vender produtos locais, e se torna bastante movimentado. É também aqui onde os vendedores ambulantes ficam durante a noite. Uma coisa que você está avisado para não fazer: comer comida de rua. Ela pode deixá-lo doente e você tem que ter muito cuidado em países da América Central. Isso pode ser um pouco de uma atitude imprudente, mas quantas vezes você vai visitar Honduras?

Quantas vezes você vai ter a oportunidade de experimentar esta culinária local incrível. Provavelmente não muitas vezes. Audrey e eu comemos até cair, e foi delicioso. Ficamos doentes depois durante a viagem, mas não acho que foi devido á comida de rua. Viajando por cinco semanas, não há como dizer onde você pegou alguma coisa e ficou doente. Sem arrependimento algum sobre comer a comida de rua!

Copán Ruinas Street Food

Esta foi a minha comida de rua favorita. Eles cozinhavam a carne e o queijo em uma grade ao ar livre, em seguida, colocavam-na dentro de uma tortilla cozida. Então você adicionava os seus ingredientes, como salsa, pico de gallo, cebola, alface e tomate. Muy delicioso!!!

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Eu não sei bem o porquê, mas esta é a minha foto favorita tirada em Honduras. Eu acho que é um exemplo perfeito da vida lá. Ela foi tirada na cidade, e não na periferia, e era um dia quente (como de costume). Ela mostra dois homens a fazer uma pausa e a desfrutar de um momento na sombra, enquanto outro homem gere o seu negócio. Depois, há a senhora que passa dois moto táxis, indo em direção à praça. Eu realmente não posso explicar porque eu gosto tanto, por isso espero que esta imagem ajude a transmitir mais que mil palavras, como se costuma dizer. Isto é Honduras.

Depois de nos despedirmos de Trent e Evelyne, Audrey e eu aproveitamos a nossa última noite nas Honduras apenas perambulando pelas ruas, tentando aproveitar o máximo este momento. Fizemos uma aula de espanhol na escola de Ixbalanque na nossa última manhã e, em seguida, pegamos o ônibus para Guatemala. Infelizmente, todas as minhas fotos do nosso último dia foram deletadas devido a uma terrível viagem de ônibus que foi de El Salvador para a Nicarágua. Mas isso é uma história para outra hora. :)

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Quer ouvir mais histórias sobre viagens? Eles estão aqui, neste livro, esperando para ser compartilhadas com o mundo. Volte para mais histórias a cada terça e sexta-feira! O que se segue: Dizer adeus ás Honduras e escalar um vulcão na Guatemala!

 

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