Hehe.. . had to get them Athlete lyrics in there... We did actually know why we were going to El Salvador and what for - Claire was pretty much whacked out following her Shamanic training, and we decided a couple of weeks by the coast was the order of the day before continuing our journeys through the rest of Central America. After finding a fabulous retreat in the pages of the trusty local Revue Mag we headed out of Antigua by coach and slipped across the border into El Salvadors capital - San Salvador. Having read many scare stories of tourists being held at gun point by local bandits, violence, crime and its general lack of tourist infrastructure, I must say how unexpectedly clean, tidy and prosperous this city appears with gleaming glass tower blocks and a wealth of corporate names proudly displaying offices thorughout its central plaza's and shopping mall's - 3rd World it certainly ain't. For a country that was in a bloody civil war until 12 years ago, it appears to have locked its problems securely out of sight and in the past - there are armed guards in stores and banks to be sure, but that's common
one of the regular nightly lightning storms - captured!
place everywhere we have visited so far. To be honest I felt as much apprehension walking the streets here (or anywhere else in Central America for that matter) as I would in any major UK city, as Public Enemy put it 'Don't Believe The Hype'.
A note for the unaware: The tourist visa for Guatemala actually covers you for the whole of Central America ie. Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua & Panama - so where we thought we were going to get a new visa for a new country we actually found out, to our dismay, that we only had 3 more days of our current 3 month visa before we had to depart... Doh! After a bit of umming & arrhing - we decided to extend our visa for a couple of weeks to allow us our anticipated sun, sea & sand and to forego the journey through Central America and fly direct to Peru after the allotted visa extension period had ran out. Great idea it seemed - only one thing in our way - 'Immigration Control'. Images of queues, moustached officials, probing questions, form filling, hours of waiting, sitting numb arsed in ergonomically uncomfortable seating areas
Bee In A Lilly
nature is best
awaiting a yes/no decision and a rubber stamp - these thoughts filled my mind on our journey to the offices in Central San Salvador. Heh what was I thinking! - this ain't England - god no they got their shit together here - as soon as we entered we were shown where to go and handed a form to fill out, then we get a photocopy of our passports, speak to a kindly official and explain our plight, pay the 11 dollars fee, get our passports stamped and away in 90 minutes.... I was totally amazed - real customer service & satisfaction! honest no BS service... something that has sadly been totally forgotten about in the UK.
Whilst I have been away I have had to call customer services in the UK on a number of occasions to sort out a few matters - these events always put me in a bad mood - if only to remind me of how little being a customer actually means to our nations major companies. You all know what I mean but I'm gonna rant on anyway as I need to get it off my chest - Example: you get the mandatory
5-15 minutes waiting time before you actually speak to anyone because there is always an unprescedented amount of people calling at that time (heaven forbid them spending money on extra staff to reasonably cover the call volume - heh are you kidding!) then when you do get through after your brain has dribbled through your nose after the umpteenth rendition of 'greensleeves' you end up speaking to Numpty Number 1 who can't help you - you know 'we are customer services, not internet banking' or 'oh you need savings not current account information' or my favorite 'unfortunately my computers not working at the moment - i'll transfer you to someone else' - then before you can even get a word in edgeways you are put on hold and made to endure more 'greensleeves' this time being offered the chance to reduce your mortgage repayments or take out an insurance policy.. blah de blah.... After enduring the sales dribble you are confronted with Numpty Number 2 - who can't for the life of them understand why you've been transferred to them as they are 'obviously' the wrong department, so back onto hold, more music, more sales blurb, and finally you're transferred
to someone who actually sounds helpful and gives a shit.... Oh my god! My queries are being answered, it seems very promising that I will get everything sorted out until you hear those fateful words - 'I just need to check something with my boss - hold on one second - no sir I won't cut you off!' - unfortunatley I don't know why and even after asking not to be cut off - a few minutes of music/sales disappears and you are confronted with a mysterious click, scrunch noise then nothing - no pips, no sounds just a deathly silence..... After a few moments of shouting into the reciever 'Hello, is anybody there?' you realise the bastards have cut you off ... again! This my friends is Customer Service UK Style - If the calls not answered in 5 minutes Mr 'Helpful' gets a bad marks for not being 'efficient' whereas Mr 'I Will Pass You Through To Someone Else' is the toast of head office for handling so many calls! If you complain you get put through to some smart arse who twists your words around or just doesn't listen and asks you to 'write to our complaints
department', fat lot of good thats gonna do - you really expect somethings gonna change? Are we fools for putting up with this shit or is this just the price we pay for living in a 'modern' world where no-one cares. Who's kidding who here, face facts - we are the 3rd world country with 3rd rate service - I can testify to that.
Okay, back to the plot - after getting our visas sorted out we headed for Libertad on the coast and ended up staying at Hotel Tekuani Kal, Playa El Tunco - this was definitely one of the best hotels along this surfers paradise, with a distinct Mayan theme - the food was fantastic, the refreshing splash pool gave you a perfect vista of the sea and surfers, we had cable TV, internet access and the all essential A/C - Oooh Yes! This corner of El Salvador is prime surf country and attracts hoardes of surfers to its beaches, with every other shop being a surf shack - theres not really a great deal else to do if you don't surf so bring a book and get that sun cream on. The weather was a sweltering
El Tunco Beach
from our balcony
humid tropical heat interspersed with occasional thunderstorms and spectacular light shows, the beach was rocky and the volcanic sand was charcaol grey, the sea was very hot and fun to dive into the throthing surf. Although I'm no surfer the waves did appear to be very impressive on certain days (although nothing like the gargantuan ones we witnessed at Escondido) and the countless surfers put on some great shows. So we got upto not alot for the following 14 days and I must say that it was thoroughly enjoyable.. All in all a lovely spot to let the world go by...
Well thats about it for El Salvador - the pictures tell the story better than my ramblings - we took its charms and chilled right out. Next stop Peru - Woo Hoo! Have fun wherever are - looks like we are heading back to Blighty Mid November - so if i don't see ya sooner I will see ya later - until then
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