Deeper in Central America

Antigua, Guatemala to Somoto, Nicaragua
May 21 – May 26, 2014

Salvatruchas for a week

It was with a bit of sadness that we left Antigua and our host family. To cheer us up Zebra’s friend from University, Rodrigo, was waiting for us in El Salvador. After the usual 3 infernal hours of immigration-custom-copy shop loop, we entered El Salvador at Las Chinamas and begun climbing towards “La Ruta de las Flores”. The road winds through the numerous coffee plantations of the region. Once a year, usually in May, the coffee plants blossom into millions of white flowers, giving this road its name. As luck would have it, the bloom was late but rain was on time. Wet to the bone, we cut our sightseeing short (there were no flowers to see anyway) and rushed towards the Capital and dry towels.

A view of El Salvador from the restaurant La Pampa

A view of El Salvador from the restaurant La Pampa

Rodrigo and his lovely wife met us at the “Cumbres del Volcan” Hostal, our refuge for the next few days, and took us for a fancy dinner at La Pampa. The restaurant is perched on the side of the San Salvador Volcano, offering breathtaking views of San Salvador. On the menu for us the next day, our friend had planned some relaxation at the “Circulo Deportivo Internacional”, a very shi shi member-only club located in the heart of the Capital, boasting tennis courts, squash courts, an Olympic pool, a gym and a couple of restaurants. Needless to say we found it very difficult to end an afternoon of such luxury after almost 3 months on the road. In a vain attempt to top that experience and enjoy a rare sunny day, we rode down to the coast to check “El Sunzal” a known surf spot. Paddling started to feel like a lot of work, so we settled for a swim and cocktails at the “Hotel Kayu” instead. Eager to explore the mountains behind the coast, we returned along a narrow road climbing to “Chiltiupan” and to our delight the road, still under construction, traces the mountain ridge offering a fun ride and sweeping views on both sides of nearby valleys and the ocean. A turn to “Comasagua” lead us back to San Salvador and to “Paseo El Carmen”, the popular bar district West of the city, for a few locally brewed cervezas with Rodrigo. Thoroughly rested, and finally dry, we got back on the road to explore the Northern part of the country heading toward Perquin.

Lago Suchitlan

B_ElSalvador-14The road North toward Lake Suchitlan allowed us to fulfil our never-ending quest to always stay the hell away from the PanAmerican highway. Our plan was to spend the night as close to the Honduras border as possible. With any luck, we could drag ourselves (mostly me) out of bed early and cross 2 borders in one day, minimise our time in Honduras and get to Nicaragua. But more of that later. Perquin, a small mountain village with a gloomy history, met our requirements. Despite Google Maps’ protests, we followed the Hwy CA3 in an attempt to cut through rivers and bushes to get us to Perquin. A bit to my disappointment (and the Zebra’s relief), instead of bushes, we found a recently paved highway offering beautiful views onto the lake Suchitlan. After a long days ride, a friendly military checkpoint and a few more downpours, we dragged our soggy selves into Perquin. The night proved too short to dry our clothes, and in waterlogged boots, we prepared for our border crossing Marathon. It started at at El Amatillo around 8am and by 11am we were in Honduras and speeding along CA1 towards the El Espino border. Finally at 3pm we entered Nicaragua eager to find a spot to relax. For a detailed report of our race through Honduras, check Through Honduras in a Day

Somoto Canyon

Such a campsite was surely worth getting wet

Such a campsite was surely worth getting wet

As it turned out our friends at Moto Pasaran had recommended the Somoto Canyon, a recent world heritage site thanks to its random discovery in 2004. Following our (ocassionally) trusted GPS through a rock garden and a difficult river crossing (read, I went down twice), we reached a small beach at the mouth of the canyon. There we met Eddie Jimenez. His family has owned part of the canyon for generations and he and his son now run small tours and tubing expeditions there. He gave us his thumbs up to camp on the beach, so we proceeded to spend the next couple of days thoroughly enjoying ourselves exploring canyons and lazying by the riverside.

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