Foi um fim de semana louco. Além de ser o feriado do Dia do Trabalhador, também foi meu aniversário e o fim de semana em que nos mudamos de Pittsburgh para Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. Imagina se mudar de uma metrópole para uma pequena cidade universitária. Chatice más fazer o quê? De qualquer forma, estes últimos dias têm sido loucos, mas não tão loucos quanto Honduras, isso é certo! :)

Acordamos bem cedo para ir visitar as Copán Ruinas, e estávamos determinadas a não deixar escapar de novo. Passaportes na mão, Audrey, Trent, Evelyne e eu chegamos às ruínas logo após as 8:15. Ninguém estava lá. Nós esperamos [im]pacientemente pela chegada do rececionista e, às 8:30, ele checou os nossos passaportes e compramos nossos ingressos. Audrey e eu tinhamos dividido a compra de um cartão de desconto, Promo Dias, que nos dá certos descontos nos monumentos nacionais e nos bilhetes de ônibus entre outras coisas. Nós poupámos 25% do valor dos nossos bilhetes de onibus Hedman-Alas, e as instruções afirmavam claramente que o desconto seria elegível para duas pessoas. No entanto, quando chegamos, eles só deixaram Audrey usar o desconto (pois estava registrado em seu nome). Aparentemente, eles têm de apresentar o número do passaporte, o que obviamente é registrado apenas por uma pessoa. De qualquer forma, ela pagou o preço com desconto (291 lempiras ou 13,80 dólares), e eu paguei o preço total (315 lempiras ou US $ 15) e dividimos a diferença mais tarde no hotel.

Do lado de fora das ruínas, havia guias em todos os lugares perguntando se você queria uma visita guiada. Quanto mais as pessoas ficavam no seu grupo, o mais barato seria a visita guiada. Nós acabamos tendo um guia que nos iria acompanhar por um total de US $ 30 (abaixo dos US $ 60 que tinha pedido inicialmente), mas enquanto Evelyne e Audrey queriam um guia, Trent e eu preferimos explorar por nós mesmos. No final, todos nós exploramos as ruínas sem ajuda.

Copan Ruinas (1)

As ruínas maias de Copán parecem ser um pequeno santuário para as araras. Depois de comprar o seu bilhete, você desce um caminho até às ruínas. Parece ser entrada livre. Ninguém está lá para conferir o seu bilhete ou para se certificar de que você pagou. Então temos que percorrer o caminho e ver todas estas bonitas araras. Infelizmente, não tivemos sucesso na tentativa de interagir com nenhum dos pássaros.

Depois de andar um pouco, você chega a uma cerca enorme. Você vai para a entrada, e é aí que eles checam os bilhetes e deixam-no entrar na área de ruínas. Depois de passar por cima do muro, você caminha um pouco até encontrar as ruínas.

Copan Ruinas (2)

Estávamos todos em admiração quando chegamos às ruínas. Este é o primeiro que você vê, e ele realmente é incrível. Definitivamente não é algo que você vê todos os dias, e para os quatro de nós, era a nossa primeira ruína.

Copan Ruinas (3)

Audrey e eu corremos ansiosamente para o topo. Nos EUA ou Europa, estou bastante certa de que é ilegal correr, levantar, pular, cuspir, ou tocar um artefacto antigo. Não na América Central. Tiramos proveito disso e tiramos uma grande quantidade de fotos quando no topo das ruínas.

Copan Ruinas (4)

As ruínas estão constantemente sob vigilância e sendo cuidadas. Enquanto não estão reconstruídas, a manutenção é feita para que fiquem como estavam durante a sua antiga glória.

Copan Ruinas (5)

Uma área que estava sob “construção” era as escadas. As escadas estavam sob um enorme toldo, e esta era uma área que os turistas não eram autorizados a correr livremente.

Copan Ruinas (6)

Pouco depois de deixar as escadas, escalamos outra ruína e tiramos algumas fotos.

Copan Ruinas (7)

Eu realmente não tenho nem palavras para descrever o quão bonitas este monte de rochas antigas são. Enquanto as imagens nunca serão capazes de lhes fazer justiça, é de tirar o fôlego.

Copan Ruinas (8)

Copan Ruinas (9)

Estas foram tiradas em cima da outra ruína.

Copan Ruinas (10)

Copan Ruinas (11)

Os militares estão por toda a parte. Eles estão andando ao redor da cidade. Eles estão de guarda nas sombras quando você está comendo comida de rua à noite. Estão descontraindo com as suas armas quando você está passeando em redor das ruínas maias. Eles são altos e orgulhosos e estão por todo o lado, é aterrorizante. E Audrey e eu absolutamente não poderíamos sair sem tirar uma foto, não só deles, mas com eles. Em retrospetiva, isso foi, provavelmente, muito, muito estúpido.

Esses quatro caras na imagem anterior mantinham o patrulhamento ao redor. Eu casualmente tentei tirar fotos deles sem querer parecer muito óbvia, mas eu tenho certeza que eu falhei miseravelmente. No entanto, Trent, Evelyne, Audrey e eu estavamos imaginando por que diabos esses militares com fuzis AR-15 e Galil estavam circulando ao redor das ruínas maias.

Copan Ruinas (12)

Mais tarde soubemos os militares estavam ali simplesmente para proteger a cidade e as ruínas, mas mesmo assim, eles ainda eram extremamente intimidantes.

Ignore as armas, ignore as pessoas que estão atrás das armas, Audrey e eu concordamos que simplesmente que não podíamos ir embora sem tirar uma foto com aqueles homens, ou pelo menos tentar. Haviam quatro homens e estavam perto uns dos outros, e a Audrey perguntou casualmente se podíamos tirar uma foto com eles (em espanhol, é claro). Um deles foi realmente brusco e, enquanto não respondia, fez um sinal para o seguirmos e a outro soldado. Nenhuma de nós sabia para onde eles estavam a nos levar, mas a foto é a última coisa das que nos preocupava neste momento (você não tem noção do quanto eles eram assustadores)! Contornamos uma esquina e os dois jovens guardas começaram uma sessão de fotos. Tiraram duas fotos com cada uma. Audrey e os dois guardas, e depois eu e os dois guardas.

Audrey foi a primeira e ficou no meio dos guardas para dois sorrisos rápidos. Depois foi a minha vez. Ignorando completamente o fato de que estávamos perto de dois guardas das Honduras, sorrateiramente tiramos as fotos longe de seu superior. Eu coloquei os meus braços em volta de ambos e eles inclinaram-se para um grande, espécie de abraço, com um sorriso enorme. Eu realmente acho que eles não esperavam isso. Na segunda foto, eles também estavam a sorrir como eu. :) Confira a imagem; foi épico…

Depois da nossa rápida sessão de fotos, Audrey e eu agradecemos graciosamente mas eles ainda queriam tirar fotos connosco, então cada um de nós foi para a segunda rodada. Eu acho que eles já estavam confortáveis perto da gente neste ponto, parecia que estavam felizes e se divertindo quando começamos a tirar as fotos com os seus celulares. Para a ultima foto, o segundo guarda meteu-se no nosso meio, com Audrey à sua direita e eu à sua esquerda. Eu não tenho certeza se ele se mexeu antes do seu colega tirar a foto ou assim, mas sua Galil deslizou pela minha perna. Eu olhei para baixo e minha perna estava encostando neste rifle de alta potência nas mãos de este militante das Honduras. Isso definitivamente não é algo que pensa que te vai acontecer quando acordas de manhã!

Seu superior estava a aproximar-se da esquina onde tirávamos as fotos, e eles pareceram ficar um pouco nervosos. Nós definitivamente não queríamos causar nenhum problema, portanto, agradecemos novamente, de forma rápida, e lá fomos nós em nosso caminho, felizes.

Às 11:00 estava insuportavelmente quente e havia grupos de turistas chegando, por isso, decidimos voltar para o Via Via, o nosso hotel. Trent e Evelyn foram pegar o ônibus pouco depois do meio-dia, de modo que, infelizmente, nos despedimos. Isso é uma das melhores coisas da viagem: reunião de algumas pessoas maravilhosas; no entanto, quando nos despedimos e cada um segue o seu caminho, isso é realmente triste.

Assim sendo, Audrey e eu fomos para a estação de ônibus Hedman-Atlas para pegar o ônibus das 02:20 para voltar a Guatemala. Era domingo e, aparentemente, é um dia bastante popular para voltar a Guatemala. Logo descobrimos que a única opção era para pagar um bilhete de primeira classe, que custa cerca de 70 dólares. Umm.. Não. Então, Audrey e eu, agarradas em Honduras…

Interessado em ouvir sobre como Audrey e eu saímos de Honduras? Clique aqui para Vida em Copan Ruinas!

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!

 

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