The last week we have been busy! We started with a lovely barbeque farewell in Antigua with all our fellow campers. It was a great night until the boys decided rum and tequila was a brilliant idea
Not so good the next morning when Christine found herself in the drivers seat with a less than fully functioning Dave beside her. Thank goodness we were travelling with Denis and Renee who took the lead on the road. We made it to the border crossing into El Salvador shortly after lunch and both managed to muddle our way through with all the different photo copies and documents needed.
Close to the Guatemala/El Salvador border we found our way to Parque National El Impossible. It was on the outskirts of a little town that obviously doesn’t see a whole lot of tourists, especially with RV’s. Our neighbours, Denis and Renee have a very unique, for these parts, truck camper that is constantly turning heads. The kids were so interested and loved to listen to Denis who’s spanish is excellent!
We had a guide take us on a 5 hour hike up to the look out and explain about the area and its history.
It was a beautiful area and one of the best parts was cooling off in the river, sometimes with the company of half a dozen local kids.
We then headed towards the coast to a little surfers town called Sunzal Point. We hunkered down in the parking area of Sharky’s Restaurant and had access to their bathrooms, outdoor showers and internet, plus it was a two minute walk to the beach.
The beach here is really fine black sand and the surf is quite high with a very long right hand break (apparently??) which is why the surfers take up residence here
Dave and I enjoyed the waves and took a couple of days to try and plan our next few weeks of our trip as well as try and do some maintenance on the van. Ginger’s fridge is not working so well when it’s on gas but is perfect on electricity so Dave, with the assistance of Denis, tried to clean the orifice jet and see if it that was the problem. After a lot of sweat (literally) and work they got the fridge out and cleaned the jet and flue, but sadly there has been little improvement. Any other suggestions out there??? (It’s an ammonia fridge – very different to your fridge at home).
Our next planned destination heading south was somewhere on the beach around a little town called Costa del Sol. Would you believe that we could not find anywhere to camp?! We tried, with Denis’s excellent Spanish, at least 6 different hotels and turi-centers but no one would accommodate us and if they would it was for an extortionate amount of money. We tried one recommendation that had been previously used by other overlanders, but which closed down only 3 months before our arrival. Dave drove into the driveway and ran over what he thought was a steel water pipe. Sadly it was an aluminum irrigation pipe and the security guard decided that Dave would have to compensate him $15 USD as it would be taken out of his salary otherwise. We payed – and let me tell you Dave was not a happy camper!
After hours or trying, and not managing to find a place to stay in Costa del Sol we made our way back to a water park we had passed earlier in the day, Atlantis Aqua Park. Here we were welcomed and informed we could stay over night no problem just for the price of admission. We gladly paid the $8/per person and enjoyed the waterslides and pools all afternoon. The scariest was the huge tandem tube drop (Dave made Christine go on this!) but we even kind of liked the odd wave pool with waves going sideways.
Then at 6pm when everyone else left we plugged into their electricity and enjoyed our happy hour.
The next day we drove north to Perquin where there is the Museo de la Revolucion showing the photos and history of the not so long ago civil war. Over 100,000 people died and people came from all over to fight alongside the guerrillas.
When we finally got to the village at 1200m elevation, Denis informed us that our gas tank was leaking! We checked out the museum, then went in search of a mechanic. We couldn’t see any leakage on the way, and the mechanic couldn’t see any specific issue, like a cracked tank, and said everything looked ok.
Dave feels it’s more likely due to pressure and overflow as we had just filled up the tank then climbed steeply. Fingers crossed that’s it because if that gas tank needs to be lowered from the van we’ll probably never get it back up with the amount of rust under there!
After the gas leak excitement we needed to find a place to stay for the night, our last night with our friends Denis and Renee! We looked at a couple of spots before eventually stumbling upon the Arizona Hotel that is about 3km outside of town on a horrendous dirt road. However the camping spot was stunning with mountains, great view and excellent amenities. Too bad about the gale force winds that kept us from having a fire and really enjoying our last night together.
Good luck to Denis and Renee (and their beautiful dog Mimi) as they now head north and eventually back home to Quebec. They were a wealth of information and experience for us first timers, and we really enjoyed spending a couple of weeks with such friendly and caring people!
We decided to attempt to do 2 border crossings in a day – through Honduras and into Nicaragua. We got to the El Salvador/Honduras border around lunchtime today, Saturday, and had no problems exiting El Salvador but the Honduras border was a different story. The customs officer, and the random guy that had been following us unrequested throughout the whole exit/entrance process, told us that because it’s Saturday the bank was closed at noon and that we could either pay more than double the normal rate or wait until Monday. They had obviously seen on our immigration forms that we were just transiting and were doing their darndest to get as much from us as they could. But what can you do when it’s the goverment official telling you this??!! Well Christine did say a few words and even brought out some new spanish vocabulary, which included telling them that Honduras was a terrible country… All to no avail. We payed the stinkin money and set our mission to get out of Honduras ASAP.
This was successful a couple of hours later (and after three police checkpoints) when we exited Honduras and entered into Nicaragua.
By this time it was late afternoon and we started to look for a place to stay. We asked at the parking lot of a recreation park but we couldn’t stay over night. Next door was a hotel and they were kind enough to let us park as long as we got a room. Crazy but we did get a shower and toilet. The rooms are fairly yucky, and neither of us would dream of sleeping in the bed!
We’ll stick with Ginger thanks!