Driving to El Salvador - country #49


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Published: April 7th 2014
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Getting ready for Holy Week in Antigua
05:00 is early - but when you know you are traveling it makes it that much easier. Justin our amazing CEO (Chief Experience Operator) had arranged for coffee for us; however it was glorified crayon water - thankfully I travel with Starbucks instant coffee so added some (yes I don’t change). Away we went, but managed to find a coffee shop in the square that was open at 06:00 so we got REAL coffee. The irony of destinations that produce coffee is they export almost all of it - and leave the crappy stuff here. So people come to places like Guatemala expecting to drink amazing, incredible coffee only to find out it’s Nescafe:-( ..... But coffee shops you can usually get it - and we ALL know how much I worship my coffee, so any good cup I can get I am so thankful (and less cranky!)

Relatively uneventful day; other than getting lost a couple of times; border crossing was simple and easy. No stamp for El Salvador but at least we were here. Lunch stop and then we DID get lost. Really lost. Funny actually. And of course it’s incredibly hilly so we were doing u-turns in
Suchitoto HotelSuchitoto HotelSuchitoto Hotel

Who can fit in that opening with a huge backpack??? I was determined to try
a manual transmission up hills, driving backwards and going literally in circles. Getting directions from an El Salvadorian is entertaining - I swear they have Italian in their bloods. They will never admit they don’t know where we are trying to go, because it’s in their nature to be helpful. I couldn’t help but laugh; and with wrong directions, 6 back seat drivers, Jose was probably going a little crazy. Once we managed to find our way out we all cheered for him, drove for 1/2 an hour and got stuck in a traffic jam in a small town because someone had ran out of gas and was blocking the road. 45 minutes later we found out what happened (after sitting still) and backed up the road, and followed the crowd through streets that were not exactly made for a van, but eventually ended back up on the highway. Ah the joys of Central America - 200 kms' takes approx 8 hours!!

What amazed me is we are on a highway; a paved, painted, smooth highway. Having traveled enough in Latin America this was a shock to me. And we stopped in San Salvador for lunch and discovered a mall. A real North America, filled with brand names like Guess, Forever 21, Starbucks. SO out of context for me and honestly, a little disappointing to see the North American culture spreading down here. But after that it became more what I think of for Central America. Small towns, unfortunately a lot of garbage on the road, little buildings and shacks, run down vehicles, cute little kiosks for shops and just what you would expect.

One of the small towns we were in Janice motioned for me to look out the window and alas, there was my creepy clown. Directly out of a Stephen King novel, completely out of place, brightly coloured, face painted and not a drop of ‘human’ to him at all. Got a shiver, too bad I couldn’t get a photo of him in time. Now I just needed to mix him with the fog from yesterday and I would be set.

The down side to the day? I dropped my camera off my lap and it hit the floor of the van and I destroyed my LCD screen. At first I had thought I broke my camera (my SLR) and I was barely holding back the tears. BUT the screen is destroyed, and after taking pictures, plugging it into a computer the photos are OK, but I have no screen, so no menu, no concept of my aperture, ISO, White Balance, Shutter speed etc. Sucks royally. So took a photo, plugged it into the computer, downloaded the picture, looked at the meta date to see what the ISO was, and tried to change it to keep it generic at 100. Took 5 photos (remember I’m changing the settings by pressing buttons blindly) but finally got that set. I can see one setting at a time inside my view finder - but no composition, no post photo. OK, I admit it, I did shed a tear or two, but found out one of our fellow travellers is a professional photographer and he helped me figure out the settings as best as possible (plus I emailed John) I have a camera that works, but don’t know what I’m shooting and can’t see composition or anything until I plug it in at night. could be worse - but needless to say I’m a bit shattered I did that. I just hope it’s affordable to fix - because buying a new camera body isn’t the end of the world but Canon keeps changing the batteries, SD cards etc so I’d have to buy all new of that - and that gets costly.

Arrived in destination, and had yet another Ned moment (that only I can do) The hotel was a step back in time, and the door to our from was narrow (see photo). I was a bit cranky from the drive and just needed to unwind. I had my backpack on my back and my day pack in my hand and the key would not fit in the lock (one of those old fashioned kind) and when I finally got the door open, I was wider then half the door. And I tried to walk in. And got stuck. So I walked out and tried again on an angle. And got stuck. And this went on for a few attempts (I was just determined to get in that damn door no matter what). The second half of the door was bolted to the floor AND the ceiling, so I tried one to get in, and got stuck again. Meanwhile Larry is behind me watching this with his face contorted, not daring to laugh for the fear of me going all Satan on him. I finally managed to get both sides of the door open and stormed in the room with an “AH-HA” moment of I beat the door triumphantly. Turned around and looked at Larry and realized what an ass I was making of myself and couldn’t help but giggle a bit. I *heart* being me!

We are in a lovely hotel overlooking the lake here in Suchitoto. After a long day in the van, we relaxed in the courtyard, wandered around and took a few photos and had happy hour with sunset overlooking the lake. wonderful end to a rather uninteresting day (yet I still manage to blog about it!) and I was surprised how tired I was and drifted off to blissful sleep.

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