A Travellerspoint blog

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sunny 28 °C
View Central America - March 2016 on Andy-Irene's travel map.

Friday 25th March - Playa del Carmen
Arrived after 23 hours of planes, trains and automobiles !
checked in to local hotel, 5 mins from beach and went for a few beers !
Started on Corona (4.5%) then, on to Sol (4.2%), a few more followed with some Nachos then crashed out for an early night.

Saturday 26th March - Playa del Carmen
Started with Mexican traditional breakfast including eggs with chiles !
Then had a 5 min walk to beach and arranged a ferry trip across to Cozumel Island to go snorkelling.
Took hydrofoil across and then straight on to boat for snorkelling trip, had our first "dive" close to ferry point !
Although we saw quite a few fish and I took the Gro-Pro for its first underwater trip, suffice to say it survived and
Hopefully we've got some decent marine shots.
About 2hrs later we got back to shore and went for a stroll around the island before catching the boat back at 4pm.
Went for group briefing at 7pm and found out that the group size was 16 ! Although there was only 5 British,
The majority coming from Nz and Oz and one Swiss person, again More women than men -
4 guys and 12 women (not complaining though 😀).
After team brief Irene and I went to local Mexican fish restaurant away from the main tourist area and had some excellent fish tacos with our first Dos XX (4.2%) which agin was ok but I think, sad to say that the Corona was the best so far (what most locals drink too).
After dinner we went from a walk through the tourist area and the hundreds of "Tat shops" selling every kind of Mexican hat or hero Masks !

Sunday 27th March - Tulum
Had an easy start, breakfast followed by a stroll down to the beach, before departing for Tulum.
Due to our group size we had 2 mini buses, set off around 11am for an hours drive to our hotel.
Rooms weren't ready so we dropped bags off and hired some bikes !
No brakes though, we just have to back-pedal like the Dutch ones !
Anyhow we made our way to the Tulum ruins on the beach cliff.
Massive queue due to it being Easter and a national holiday so it was packed with locals although we managed to jump the queue
as we were foreigners and also that we hired a local guide, split between 4 of us it worked out quite cheap.
Great Historical site, even though it was full of tourists it was well worth the visit and the views of the White Beach with the Coral Reef-
(which is the second biggest in the world after the Great Barrier Reef) was good and also one of the reasons why the Mayans built Tulum here -
As it gave them a natural defence against the invading Conquistadors !
Cycled back to the hotel via the centre to cool down before heading downtown for a night out.

Monday 28th March - Tulum
Our last day in Mexico but it ended being our best.
We started off with a Caribbean Breakfast, something different to start the day with -
a humongous plate of fruit covered with honey, yogurt and granola.
Left hotel for a short bike ride to Grand Cenote (say-no-tay)
A large natural sink hole come cave system found a lot in the Yucatan peninsula.
Got there early, the place was empty without many other swimmers or divers.
Had a fantastic swim and snorkelling trip through the underground caverns, the nearest thing to actual cave diving,
we surfaced a few times in the bat covered caves and spotted catfish and some turtles.
The Gro-Pro compensated for the low light underwater and in the cave, so hopefully we might have some good shots.
Just before we left we swam to the limits of the cave ceiling with only about
1ft of air space and watched some cave divers descend below us, lighting up the lower caverns.
Came back to the hotel for lunch by the pool before going for a bike ride to the beach.
We found a quiet spot south of the Tulum site and had a swim in the sea, although the water was warm,
the waves were very strong totally wiping us out a few times with us ending up several metres further down the beach upside down !
Spent the last evening having some cold beers and tacos (again),
Like ain't too bad 😀

Posted by Andy-Irene 09:37 Archived in Mexico Comments (1)


sunny 29 °C

Mexico into Belize
Tuesday 29th March - Caye Caulker Island
Left the hotel in Tulum, for a 3hr drive to the Mexican border at Chetumal and
Crossed into Belize then quickly consumed the fruit that we were Not supposed to import into the country !
Adjusted our clocks and gained another hour, now -7hrs behind BST.
We had managed to use all our Mexican pesos in Mexico and in Belize the US dollar is directly interchangeable with the Belizean dollar @ 1:2
which made it easy, plus all the notes have the queen on !
We then continued on to Belize City and headed for the docks to board a water taxi to take us across to the group of Caye Islands,
which was about an hours boat trip. We arrived on Caye Caulker Island, one of the larger Cayes to spend a couple of days relaxing on the beach, doing some snorkelling hopefully some Manatee and Shark spotting.
Cars are not allowed on the island, so the only major mode of transport is by golf buggy ! or by bike rental,
So we got a golf buggy taxi to the "China Palace Hotel" and then went for a short walk and arranged a
Snorkelling trip out towards the reef for tomorrow before heading out for dinner. Fresh locally caught fish is the main deal on the menus,
So we went for the daily special at the Happy Lobster - Blackened Barracuda !

Wednesday 30th March - Caye Caulker Island
Went for an early morning walk and then had breakfast down by the beach in one of the local cafes.
Afterwards we meet up with a local, "Ninja" an old chap that had being doing these trips for around 30yrs,
(and you could certainly tell).
We took his small boat out towards the Barrier Reef and stopped for our first trip at Hol Channel Marine Reserve.
I got some good shots of the Reef and underwater wildlife, we then went onto Shark-Ray Alley and
I found out why - jumping in I was approached by 3 Nurse Sharks and school of Rays !
Slightly worrying at first, but thankfully they didn't seem to have an appetite for me !
We then went onto our last dive on the Reef itself at Coral Gardens, again great shots of the Reef and
lots of different species, plus Irene found a lobster under a large block of coral.
We returned to land in the afternoon and chilled out in a local cafe before having a walk around the island,
(which takes less then 2 hours) and then back to the hotel.
We ventured out early evening to sample more local cuisine and the Belizean Beer - Belikin Beer.
Which is the main brand throughout Belize, although there is also a Lighthouse Lager,
(Not desperate to try it, but I guess I will have too for quality control purposes).
There is also Guinness, I guess a throw back to their colonial past, poplar served extra cold.
The Belikin Beers are either a 4.8% Lager or a 6.5% Stout, both were ok,
But no guessing as to which one either of us choose 😀 (and surprisingly the stout was nice).
This was followed by the local catch of the day - grilled Red Snapper, with Belizean Rice n Beans.

Thursday 31st March - Caye Caulker Island
After yesterday's great water adventure, how could we top it ? By flying over the famous Blue Hole ?
Yesterday, I had managed to negotiate a deal with a small tour company to take a flight over the Barrier Reef and
on to the famous Great Blue Hole in a 5 seater Cessna aircraft.
The Blue Hole is basically it's a large underwater sinkhole, near the centre of Lighthouse Reef -
A small atoll 60 miles off the coast of Belize, It's around 300m wide and nearly 125m deep.
Divers dive to around 40m to enter the cave then swim through the cave exiting up via this natural hole
(where the cave ceiling had collapsed several hundreds of years ago).
We arrived at the "airport" a rough track in the middle of a field, had a quick chat with Brian our Pilot and
Then we were off and the bonus was, I had managed to blag the co-pilots seat, so with go-pro in hand we took off.
However, halfway down the runway my door flew open !
Luckily both Irene, who was sitting behind me and I were both strapped in and
the two of us managed to pull the door closed just before taking off !!!
Once airborne we headed out to the Lighthouse Reef Atoll and circled the Blue Hole a few times in both directions,
we got some great views of the hole and hopefully some good photos & video too.
We then headed towards a stranded Cargo ship that got stuck during a Hurricane a few years ago,
Its still stuck there rusting away.
Then came the fun - Brian then handed me the controls ! and
I had a go a flying the Cessna on the way back for about 15 mins, pretty scary at first as it really responded to my moves,
but suffice to say we all got back and landed safely - cos I'm writing this blog !
After all the mornings excitement we decided to have an easy afternoon walking around the island,
having a swim in the sea and then sitting in some hammocks drinking a coconut !

Friday 1st April - San Ignacio
Today we packed and left the island of Caye Caulker, taking the 1hr water-taxi back to the mainland,
where we caught a local bus to take us on to San Ignacio.
San Ignacio lies close to the border of Guatemala about 70miles west of the capital Belize.
After enduring a local bus ride of about 3hrs, we eventually arrived in San Ignacio,
A small town, although the second largest urban area outside of Belize City, with only one main street; Burns Avenue where we were staying.
We checked into the Venus Hotel only to find that there was no water, there was a lot of construction work going on outside, (hence the no water, as one of the workmen had burst through the mains supply to our hotel) and finally if we wanted A/C we had had to pay for it !
Anyhow, we got briefing of possible activities to do in the area, then 4 of us went up the local Maya ruins of Cahal Pech,
these date back to around 900BC and weren't discovered until 1950.
We arrived there with only an hour left before they closed, but the bonus was, the site was empty, so we had it all to ourselves.
We got back to the hotel as it was just getting dark, to find the water had been restored, great news as the temperature reached 32c today,
so after a welcome cold shower, we decided to keep cool for longer with the aid of some ice cold beers !

Saturday 2nd April - San Ignacio
An early start as we had decided to visit the ancient ruins of Carocol, the largest Mayan site in Belize. We left the hotel at 7am for a 2hr bumpy ride to the site, this was due to the fact the the site had only been discovered in 1937 and this track was the only way to reach it.
We stopped on the way to visit Rio Frio Cave and do a spot of Caving,
Although it was an easy walk-through cave system with massive entry & exit holes of around 50m in diameter !
We then got back in our people carrier to endure the final section of track before arriving at Carocol.
Carocol (which means Snail in Mayan) was the largest city and Mayan site in Belize with a population of around 150,000.
The main structure know as Sky Place rises above the settlement to a height of 500m above sea level.
we climbed the very steep and large steps to get some impressive views of the site and across the border into Guatemala.
We also had the complete site, virtually to ourselves with only about 10 other tourists,
We thought this might be due to the rough track to get there, but having counted around 20 armed soldiers dotted around the site (?)
we found out why - someone was shot about 2 weeks ago by Guatemalan Poachers crossing the border, hunting in Belize.
Tensions between both sides are running high and they didn't want any more casualties (we totally agreed !).
After 3 hrs climbing around the site with the temperature hitting 36c !
We set off back and stopped at the some waterfalls and plunge pools for refreshing dip and swim.

Posted by Andy-Irene 16:18 Archived in Belize Comments (0)


sunny 29 °C

Sunday 3rd April - Tikal
Today we said goodbye to Belize, leaving the hotel early we drove for about 1/2 hr to
the border check point and painlessly (apart from the $20 dollar exit fee!) crossed into Guatemala, country No.3
Once over the border we stopped for a 3hr breakfast stop !
Well it was only about an hour but the painful service made you feel it was an eternity.
We then continued on to Tikal where we would be camping and also to visit the Mayan Ruins.
On arrival we all got tents except for Irene and I who, as we were the only couple,
Were taken to stone pavilion thingy, where our 3 man humongous tent was already erected inside (undercover) the pagoda and
with 3 mattress's inside ! luxury camping - "Clamping" or what !
Our camp was actually in the National Park, so after dumping our rucksacks we set off to the site.
The Tikal site is massive, spread over 16Km sq. with over 400 structures and even more amazing is that only 10% has been excavated.
We walked through the jungle on forest trails for about 20mins to reach the first pyramid, Then on to Temple V and so on etc.,
eventually reaching the famous Plaza with Temples II and the famous Jaguar Temple I.
The site was virtually empty with only a handful of other tourists, so with the lack of people, plus the amount of wildlife we spotted and heard -
Howler Monkeys, Spider Monkeys, Parrots, Raccoons and lots of others etc. It really gave an atmospheric feeling to the place.
Climbing up the Temple was another challenge, Temple IV was the highest at 61m (geting towards 200ft),
But it wasn't the climbing of the stairs it was the size of the stairs, some coming up to your knees!
Plus the gradient of the staircases really made you work.
Having said this a few are now sadly closed - due to people in the past 2 years falling off and killing themselves !
It seems that every time someone dies, they close that particular one off, luckily there were still some left for us !
After about 5 hours trekking through jungle trails, each one ending with yet another impressive structure we returned to camp and
actually had a warm shower ! 5 star camping yet again.

Monday 4th April - Rio Dulce
Woke up about 4am by the sound of Howler Monkeys roaring in the trees around us,
It can be a bit unnerving if you've not heard it before, but it really adds to the jungle atmosphere,
Overall though we slept well in the heat, under the jungle canopy.
Another early start, we were up just after 5am and left camp by 7am as we had a long travel day south towards Flores
on route to Rio Dulce by late afternoon.
We stopped off at the same "breakfast place" as the day before,
But this time we decided to go off on our own to another local cafe opposite rather than endure the tortuous wait again,
both of us had better meals and watched their "Breakfast Tv" which was showing some horror movie involving a
deranged Scarecrow killing people with a pitchfork !
After all the early morning excitement we boarded our bus for a peaceful drive on to Rio Dulce.
On arrival we caught a water taxi for short 10min ride to our lake side rustic lodge.
The lodge had its own launch and we struck lucky again and ended up in a detached bamboo bungalow !
After a quick check in we decided to take a hike along the lakeside to Castillo San Felipe,
a fortress and castle built in 1652 to keep pirates from looting the villages in the region.
It was like a toy castle complete with turrets, cannons and small underground tunnels.
After clambering around in the small dark tunnels banging our heads on the ceiling, we caught a river taxi back to our lodge and chilled out on deck having our first Guatemalan Beer !

Tuesday 5th April - Rio Dulce
Woke up to a wonderful jungle dawn chorus in our Bamboo Bungalow followed by breakfast on the lakeside.
We then got a boat down Lago de Izabal to visit the Mangrove swamps and
watch the various array of birds that live along the lago and it's small islands.
We continued on to reach Livingston, a small town where the descendants of Africans brought to the New World as slaves live.
We strolled around the town and managed to meet a local who gave us some additional info and history of the place,
nice chap, quite amusing.
After some local street food, we boarded the boat back to Rio Dulce, on the way we stopped at some "Hot Springs"
albeit a hot pool near the side of the jetty !Some went in for a dip,
whilst we decided to walk up to a cave located in the cliff side and got a local lad with a few spare torches to give us a guided tour.
It was well worth the effort, our round trip was decent and we spotted some fossilised remains in the cave ceiling,
plus lots of stalls and calcite flows etc.
We decided to venture into the town itself at night and jumped aboard the hotel boat that takes it's workers back home at 5pm to the Rio port.
Rio Dulce was small town, which we had walked all around by early evening,
Although trying to get some authentic street food was proving very hard. It seemed that everywhere was either a Mexican Pizza takeaway or a
"Pollo Rapido" (the Mexican KFC !), so we ended up in a riverside bar having a Beer and a sandwich.
Then came the dilemma - did we wait here for another 2 hrs hoping to catch the hotel boat back,
if it would return for us or make our own way back ?
We decided to try and get a water taxi, but this was working out quite expensive and difficult to arrange,
when an American guy in the bar overhead us and offered to give us a lift in his dingy ! Well why not !
So Irene, me and "Brandon" set off in pitch blackness with me holding a flash light down the Rio Dulce !
suffice to say we made it back to the Hotel, thanked Brandon and retired to the safety of our hotel bar.

Wednesday 6th April - Antigua
We we left Rio Dulce early for a long travel day west to Antigua.
On the way we had to pass through the busy industrious capital of Guatemala City.
The traffic was terrible, but nobody blasted their horns - we found out why -
Apparently if you blast your horn, the other guy shows you his gun, (which people freely carry about) and
this sort of stops any frustration !
However, our journey came to a standstill in bad traffic and sadly we found out why -
somebody had just being killed by a car driver and he was laid out in the road as we passed by him.
Eventually we arrived in Antigua, the former colonial capital until 1776 when it transferred to Guatemala City following several earthquakes.
It is full of cobbled streets, Plaza's, Spanish architecture and is surrounded by 3 active volcanoes;
Agua, Fuego and Acatenango all at around 3,700m (12,000ft).
We checked into the hotel, then went out for a walk around the town, grabbed some street food and soaked up the atmosphere,
Although it was noticeably cooler here givens it's at an elevation of around 5,000ft, it still had a great feel about the place.

Thursday 7th April - Chichicastenango / Jan Jorge
Another day woken up by a wonderful dawn chorus and by 6am we were both up and about,
so we went for an early morning walk to Parque Central,
(the main square in Antigua) & found a couple of nice shops, one selling fresh bread and the other great Guatemalan Coffee.
So we had our breakfast sat by the water fountain, full of female statutes in the main square,
when we suddenly both noticed where the water was coming from -
it was spraying out of the women's breasts in the middle of the fountain ! (made a change from what's in the UK!).
After breakfast we left Antigua, albeit only for a couple of days, as we were going to have an overnight "homestay" with a
local Guatemalan family in San Jorge.
On the way we stopped at the famous Chichicastenango Market (try saying it!); "chi-chi-cas-ten-nan-go"
It has a famous market that everybody seems to visit.
Anyhow we arrived late morning to the usual ambush of local traders trying to sell you their wares,
once we'd dodged them we headed off down the small streets filled with stalls on each side,
We didn't really buy anything but soaked up the atmosphere and had a good photo shoot of the markets scenes & people.
Late afternoon we arrived in the main square of San Jorge where we would meet our local family.
A local guide introduced us to a middle aged lady called "Martha" who then took us to down the street to her house.
As we entered the house we met "Pedro" her husband who was a Builder and was building an extension to the house when we arrived,
which involved nailing some corrugated sheeting from one building to another !
(He had also built the original house 23yrs ago), luckily it was still standing.
Neither of them could speak fluent English, nor us any Spanish, so out came my phrase book and we started to have a "chat"
They had 6 children and 2 grandchildren, all of whom joined us for a supper of Vegetables and Tortillas,
which was sadly stretched to go round us all,
However, there were plenty of warm tortillas which we watched being made on their wood fired Aga.
After watching various bits of Spanish Soap operas and the start of a Godzilla movie, we had a short walk and retired to our beds.

Friday 8th April - Panajachel
We had a good nights sleep at our homestay, followed a breakfast of Scrambled Eggs & Tomato - Guatemalan style !
with very hot, freshly made tortillas. We said goodbye to Martha and Pedro and
walked up the street to meet the rest of the group and transferred to our hotel in Panajachel, briefly checked in,
Then went on a day-tour of the region via the lake on a private boat.
Panajachel is the biggest town around the lake and from here we first went across to San Juan,
A small village where we visited a local Mayan Art Gallery and then went to see a Textile Factory/shop,
both nice but geared towards Retail Therapy !
We then had a short stop over at San Pedro for a quick tour of the town before departing to Santiago Atitlan.
We found a good local restaurant, also in the LP guide where we had some nice tortillas for lunch,
before getting a local pick-up truck to take us to the "shamans House" this is where the current Mayan God is held for a year.
It then moves onto another location collected by the next priest who watches over it every day for the next year and so on.
When we arrived, we were very lucky as a local man was visiting the Shaman to be exorcised !,
which involved a ritual whereby the statue of the Mayan God in the room, had the cigar (which was in his mouth) lit as well as candles on the floor, the guy was then dressed with a sheet over his head, a cowboy hat on and some strange shoes !
It sounds a bit naff, but seeing it taken so seriously is very dramatic.
The ceremony then began, as we watched intently, his local priest chanted a message and
at the same time swung an incense burner, all surrounded in darkness except for the burning candles.
It was all very mystical and quiet eerie.
The shaman let one of us (me) take photos for the group and l managed to get some good shots of the ritual.
We then returned by our boat back to Panajachel for a relaxing night out on the town !

Saturday 9th April - Antigua
We had an early start in order to travel back to Antigua,
leaving Panajachel at 07.00am we drove around the tight & dangerous hairpin bends,
passing numerous vehicles that had either broken down or ones that couldn't get up the steep hills, (probably due to their clutches burning out) and
were then abandoned with their wheels chocked with stones.
Once back in Antigua, we went on a walking tour of the cobbled city visiting various Churches, Squares and Plazas,
down quaint little streets full of cafes and Boutique shops and then up to Cerro de la Cruz -
a cross on a hill overlooking the city with good views of the surrounding volcanos.
We continued around the town visiting the local street & food markets before returning to the hotel after about 4hrs of walking.
We went out for another walk and brought some local Cheese and Chilean Wine,
(first of the holiday) and then we sat in the hotel courtyard to enjoy them !

Sunday 10th April - Antigua (Pacaya Volcano)
A very early start; we were up at 5am in order to leave at 6am to climb the
Pacaya Volcano, one of the local active volcanos close Antigua.
We drove for about 1 hour to reach the base of the volcano, from here we started the climb,
although climbing from around 1,800m we soon reached the lava flow from the 2015 eruption.
Looking across the valley we got good views of the 3 largest volcanos that surround Antigua and one of them;
Fuego was giving out occasionally plumes of smoke and sulphur.
We continued and soon reached the point where we could go no further for safety reasons, which was about 2,200m (approx. 7,000ft).
Our guide then did the tourist thing and produced some Marshmallows from his day sack and proceeded to heat them over some lava stones,
within a few minutes we were all eating toasted Marshmallows in the early morning Sun.
We then descended back to the start point and got our bus back to Antigua, not really what we were hoping for,
but it was a good leg stretch and perfect walking conditions.
In the afternoon we spent the rest of our last day in Guatemala having a walk round the old town and ended up in the
Chocolate museum where I copped for buying Irene some handmade Guatemalan Mayan Chocolate !
Expensive but very nice, or so I was told !
In the evening we met out new tour leader that would take us on to Honduras in the morning and on to Copan.

Posted by Andy-Irene 17:38 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)


sunny 32 °C

Monday 11th April - Copan (Honduras)
We left very early (4am !) for the long drive to cross the boarder into Honduras,
It wasn't so much the distance it was more that we had to get through Guatemala City before the crazy rush hour traffic brings it to a standstill,
even driving through at 4.30am it was still starting to build up.
(So far in Guatemala we had experienced first hand, both a man and a dog getting killed by traffic,
so it was nice to get this behind us).
We passed through the border checkpoint really fast and arrived at Copan around lunchtime,
had a quick orientation walk around the "town" which was very small, with a main Plaza and all roads leading off went up very steep hills,
one of which was to our hotel !
Soon after we went to the Copan Ruins albeit via a dodgy mode of transport,
we'd arranged for a local guide to meet us and he turned up at the hotel in his pickup truck !
So 11 of us got In the back of the truck, plus 2 more in the cab !
Luckily it was only a mile or so away. We Visited the Copan Ruins, the most famous site in Honduras and
yet again when we arrived there was nobody there and we had it all to ourselves !
Walking through the jungle paths we spotted lots of giant Macaws sat in trees and flying around very close to us, even landing on the statues.
Copan is different to the other Mayan sites in that there are more Glyphs and Stale's around rather than pyramids, plus we got to go down inside 2 of the tunnels that the archeologists had dug in order to explore the hidden tombs below the main structures.
Given we were up at 3am we decided leave the site and return again tomorrow to visit the museum.
The weather was now just cooling down from around 32c,
So walked back to the hotel rather than get a tuc-tuc and went to try some local Honduras food.

Tuesday 12th April - Copan
After a good nights sleep, apart from the bloody Cockerel crowing from 3am onwards !
we set off to walk back to the Copan Ruins again to visit a live
Archeological excavation that was taking place close by and then onto the sites museum where a lot of the original artefacts are kept.
It's hard to believe, but Copan like Tikal has only 10-20% of the site excavated !
With both sites covering a vast geographical area where thousands of people lived when these were thriving Mayan centres.
When the civilisation ended, which most believe was due to droughts and the change of faith towards their leaders (gods),
the sites were abandoned and the jungle took over consuming it for centuries.
It's amazing when you walk round the jungle trails you see lots of large pyramid type hills covered in grass with trees sprouting out of them,
all of which contain a hidden temple or structure yet to be revealed,
It's like going back in time or being in part of an Indiana Jones Movie !
Las Sepulturas is the site where current excavations are taking place, they discovered this about a year ago and
estimate they will be there for another 5 years.
We couldn't take photos of the work but we then went to another area of Las Sepultures that was completed and accessed via jungle tracks.
We walked round the 2km trail all on our own (again) and then went onto the Copan Museum.
The entrance is via a Serpents mouth, which leads you into a large auditorium with the actual artefacts on display, well worth the visit.
We headed back to the Hotel (clocking up about 10km by now) and entered the town once again, when passing by the local market we suddenly spotted a pen of multi coloured baby chicks ? ! (Chickens).
It took us a few minutes to actually comprehend what we were seeing, they were coloured Pink, Orange, Blue and Green etc.
Sadly however we found out later what it was all about - the baby chicks had being dyed and were for sale as pets !
(Even worse is that many of them die during this barbaric process), apparently the children want different coloured ones as pets,
Very sad but true.
After a Burrito Brunch we boarded our bus for the long drive to the border to cross into El Salvador.
However even though we were going to El Salvador, we first went back into Guatemala, headed south and
then crossed into El Salvador as it was actually quicker and a lot safer !
Several border crossings and hundreds of Km's later we arrived in Suchitoto, quickly checked into our hotel,
Then went out to try some El Salvadorian Street food, the most popular are Pupusans,
Which is a tortilla either made with Corn or Rice and then filled with various ingredients, a popular and the one we had was
Frijoles can Queso (Refried Beans n Cheese) served straight from the pan, their very hot and gorgeous !

Posted by Andy-Irene 20:15 Archived in Honduras Comments (0)

El Salvador

sunny 32 °C

Wednesday 13th April - Suchitoto
After yesterday's long travel day, today was a free day and our first in El Salvador.
We met a local guide; Rene' who took us on a tour to the Los Tercios Rock-waterfall
Athough there's only water there 5 months of the year and given that we were in the dry season - guess what -
No Water !
Anyhow we went via the usual mode of transport in CA - by pickup truck and
walked to the rockfall which is made of Basalt Rock (hexagonal structure).
The sheer cliff face was very tempting to climb, but our guide dissuaded me to do it.
After another truck ride later we went to a local Indigo workshop,
Indigo was originally farmed centuries ago and is what the conquistadors came for,
now it is used in a various array of tie-dye clothing.
This was followed by visiting an elderly lady (95) who has being hand-making cigars from her home for the past few decades.
Finally we went on a walkabout around Suchitoto and ended in Bar trying the local maize sprint -
Chuco which is fermented from Corn, You drink it as a slammer with a slice of lime covered in cinnamon & sugar as a chaser.
It was 32c today, really bright so we had a siesta before going to the Cinquera National Park in the afternoon.
We hiked for about an hour uphill to a great view point over the countryside recently occupied by the FMLN Guerrilla Army during the civil war and
then visited a few camps and hideouts used by the Guerrillas during the 1970-80's conflict and
Finally ended the afternoon at some waterfalls, where we had a dip to cool off.

Thursday 14th April - Suchitoto / El Tunco
Up early (5.00am ! ) as we went on an early morning Kayak ride along Lake Suchitoto,
The largest inland lake in El Salvador to see the wildlife.
Irene and I got into a 2-man kayak, with cameras and binoculars at the ready we set off across the lake,
We stopped at a very small island where an "artist" has been living for the last
several years, around his shack where he lived in part of a rock mountain is his artwork and
on top are the remains of an army plane that crashed several years ago.
We returned to our boats and made are way to the swamp marshes and spotted
Egrets, Herons, Wood-Storks, Cormorants and an Osprey.
It was very relaxing paddling at dawn with the sun rising and birds feeding along the waters edge.
We returned for breakfast then set off to travel to El Tunco on the southern coast of El Salvador.
On route we drove through the capital San Salvador (not stopping - even at red lights !).
It was just another busy capital city, although I guess it's a lot different, at nighttime -
At which point I spotted a group of balaclava masked armed police, shotguns everywhere,
Who had a guy, on his knees, with his hands tie-wrapped around his back !
We arrived at El Tunco early afternoon and went for a walkabout, it's apparently a top surfing spot and
our hotel was only 200m from the beach, so we headed to the beach only to find it was all black volcanic sand.
During our walkabout , we tried to find a new local microbrewery that had just been up and running for a couple of years,
But sadly, we didn't and think it may have shut down, so we had a beer ourselves,
sat on the beach and watched some guys trying to surf the White Rollers.
Fish was the speciality here, so we gave the Pupusa's a miss tonight and
had some local grilled fish stuffed with shrimps, watching the sun go down with a cold beer !

Friday 15th April - El Cuco
A lie in and breakfast in bed.
(Well we sat in our porch having home made "Banana Tortillas")
We left El Tunco and travelled east along the coastline for about 3hrs to reach
El Cuco, where we would be spending the weekend to relax by the Pacific.
On route we stopped at a gas station for a break and as we were getting of the bus,
I noticed that the truck parked next to us was a removal van, at which point the rear shutter door opened to reveal a
house of furniture and a large family sat on the two settees inside !
El Cuco, like El Tunco is another coastal resort deigned to attract people from San Salvador for a weekend retreat and
on the first impression, it looked and felt a lot nicer than El Tunco.
Our hotel was on its own actually on the beach and we had a small chalet complete with its own porch and hammocks.
We decided to have a beach day, went waking along the beach and ended the day swimming in the Pacific,
which was really really warm, but had a strong under current.
We then sat at the beachside bar side sipping Margaritas (well it was Happy Hour!) and
watched the sunset over the Pacific, to top it off we both had Lobster for dinner - a great start to the weekend or what !

Saturday 16th April - El Cuco
Skipped breakfast and had some fresh mangos watching the tide, sat on the beach.
(the mangos are collected from the hotel grounds and free to all guests).
We then went surfing ! (well we had a 1:1 lesson with an Italian guy that worked at the hotel).
This was our first attempt at catching some rollers and after a 10 min talk on the beach we had a go,
surprisingly we both seem to get the hang of it and although we were only in the white surf, we both caught some waves and we're off.
It's a great feeling when you catch one and the board really speeds up.
The main town of El Cuco was about 4km down the beach so afterwards we decided to walk there, to checkout the local town.
The sun was very hot again and after about an hours walk we arrived, it was Saturday so all the locals were out on the beach and
playing football or just chilling out. The town was a bit run down, no real shops or bars,
but we found a real local's cafe overlooking the beach and we had some Ceviche for lunch, escaping the the sun for a while.
After the walk back it was time to cool off again so another dip in the sea before having a massage each at the hotel.
We had half an hour each, which only cost $10, the woman was really good, (and strong)
so it felt like 5 rounds in the ring with Mike Tyson afterwards.
Relaxed and revived afterwards we spent out last night at the beach bar.
Today had clearer sky's towards the evening and we got a good sunset on our last night -
sipping Tequila Sunrise's before having some local caught fish.

Posted by Andy-Irene 05:18 Archived in El Salvador Comments (0)

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