Pacaya Volcano was a perfect goodbye to Antigua and Guatemala. I had only expected to be there a few days but after those few days had passed I felt like I would be leaving prematurely so I extended and decided to do the hike on the final night. A terrific hike, sunset, a great night’s sleep,crisp beautiful morning, scrambled eggs and toast to start the day, and I lugged my bags outside of my temporary home here in Antigua and waited for the prebooked bus to come pick me up.
A few hilarious English lads that were in the hostel had their second “Hangover” experience where they had lost their friend, again, after a good night out and this friend happened to be the one with the tickets to El Salvador!
As the private shuttle arrived, and we loaded our bags in, we organized to go hit the other places, pick up the other passengers, and return back to hopefully have given their friend time to stumble his way back to our hostel. After a few laps of the town, having picked up only 2 other people, a terrific couple from England, we looped back and found only the two lads standing there, still no friend, still no tickets. They sheepishly unloaded their bags, and massive sombreros and dragged their things back inside, seething at their irresponsible friend, as we headed out. We bumped along the uneven roads exiting Antigua, and onto the normal tarmac which felt like floating on a glass lake in comparison to the roads in town.
The journey is supposed to take 5 hours to the coastal town of El Tunco, El Salvador. As I planned my departure from Antigua, I was looking at going straight through, to Leon in Nicaragua. That particular journey is 16 hours and done in one long shot and my friend from Australia who I had met in Antigua, mentioned that it was not very enjoyable! I looked at alternatives and splitting up the journey and the only real stop on the way seemed to be El Tunco. A shuttle to there, as to Leon, can be booked at most tour operators and whether you do the long shot, or split up the journey, the cost for the whole journey is the same. Its $50 to go the whole way, or $30 and $20 to do it in 2 parts. I chose the option to visit another town, and another country instead of the one long haul. I would come to be extremely happy of this decision.
When we arrived at the border, we all lined up and filled out some forms which were taken and thrown into a drawer like trash. We then piled back into the van, at our own leisure, and headed off like the whole immigration process was optional. Few hours later, we turned a corner and the impressive Pacific Ocean opened up before us. It had been a couple years since I had seen this beauty and it was smiles all around as we pulled off the “highway” and into the miniscule town of El Tunco, El Salvador.
The van pulled into the center of town, which is the same road that exits the town. Yes, thats how small El Tunco is. We got out at a hostel called Papaya’s that was a great open area, hammocks, balconies and a nice pool taking in the rays of El Salvadorian sunlight. Good price, great spot, awesome layout and a restaurant on site, so I settled in. As soon as I got there, I met a lad named Matt, from Bristol in England, where I used to live, and his buddy Dave, who invited me out for some Pupusa’s. Having no idea what they were, I politely said “sure” and we went out to eat these typical corn meal, chicken, pancake things that became a staple of our diet in El Tunco.
A stroll down the main “road” in El Tunco, which does not accept cars, and we arrived at the rocky but beautiful beach which El Tunco is famous for. El Salvador has an extremely gorgeous, relatively untouched and unknown coastline and with the town of El Tunco as a backdrop, I knew, just like when I arrived in Antigua, I would be here for more than a night or two! We returned to the hostel, grabbed a few other people, a few beers, and sat down on a log on the beach to watch one of the greatest sunsets I have ever seen. As the sunset, it went through a transition of colours from yellow, to orange to a reddish pink that left a red glow in the sky for minutes after the sun had completely disappeared.
More pupusa’s for dinner and an early night ready to get out in the water the next day. So far so good in El Tunco, El Salvador.