Yikes, way too much effort to get this post up. Sketchy net connection means no supporting video just yet…
So these last few days have been interesting. Sometimes quite eventful and sometimes just dull & boring. It is 8am on the El Salvadoran pacific coast and we are prepping for a simple breakfast listening to the endless waves breaking onto this long lovely beach. How we got here is a long story…and I don’t mean retelling the whole journey. When we were in Niagra Falls Canada a very enthusiastic campground attendent named Helen was so excited to hear that we would be heading to El Salvador as that was her favorite country and she had had the time of her young 20 something life down there. Specifically at a place called El Mira Flores. http://www.elhotelmiraflores.com/ She wrote the info down and I have been carrying it ever since. Knowing we were heading this way I sent an outreach email from Mexico. Long story short Esther was kind enough to offer us a break given our travel conditions and budget. This place has the most amazing buena vista! It sits atop a beachside hill that overlooks pretty much everything and provides a great vantage point for observing the sought after surf. For it is that surf that this area of El Cuco & La Flores is most know for. Great waves. Surfer dudes from Brazil, England, Italy and California are here getting their fix. Dave, our very pleasant and helpful host hails from Santa Cruz. Esther you have a great crew here. Thank you for everything. Sadly they are fully booked for the weekend so we will be moving on today, hoping to catch up with our overland friends Bryan and Jen from www.thedangerz.com.
Now, about the dogs and drunks. We spent most of yesterday tooling around spalshing in the waves, lounging in the pool and enjoying this beautiful place. The highlight of our Thursday was the walk to town. We met fishermen and saw their salted fish out drying on the racks. Not cod like in Newfoundland but same exact process. Everywhere they were – bringing their bounty in from the ever present wave-busting ponga (small) boats. This area is wonderful partly because it has many little bays with good surf breaks so I am told. I did not go out primarily because I would embarrass myself in front of these great riders and the much needed lesson was going to be an “out of budget” experience. It sure has been fun to watch these guys do what they do on these very solid waves.
So back to the beach walk. We were meandering down towards town as the tide started to move in and we needed to redirect around a jetty now covered in waves. As such, we were looking in the logical place for passage when all the sudden not one but four alley dogs decided I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Gaila had stepped about 100 feet to my right and was out of the foray thankfully. It was concerning when the first one headed my way but down right scary as they all converged with loud barks and knarly teeth showing. As I looked for an exit strategy they encircled me cutting off an easy exit. Uh oh! Now what I thought. Hoping that they were more bark than bite I tried to stand my ground calmly at first. However, seeing them charge closer I needed to work on a plan B. OK, it wasn’t really a plan but more like a panic of survival. They did not stop their approach and I was forced to get as big and as loud as I possibly could. Waving my arms, kicking my feet and yelling quite loudly gave them pause, but just for a second. The brave black stray appeared to be the most eager with a three brown males following his lead. A few kicks in his direction, several 360 swirls to keep each side at bay and other crazy antics kept me from a trip to the local seamstress – aka doctors office.
After a what seemed like too many minutes, some nearby lady yelled out a random window and the slow retreat began. Not before one more snap or two that had me on full alert. With my heart racing I quickly picked up my long lost flip flops and I slowly backed my way over to Gaila. Who was standing there frozen, I think by the haunts of a dog bite long ago. To be honest, this was a pretty terrifying experince. Having these ruff & tuff dogs sink their teeth into my legs or arms was just too visceral. I was actually thinking about the very feeling and pain that would happen – let alone the aftermath. My mind raced and adrenline was spiking still. Another lady who was tending laundry or something showed us a tucked away route that would get us back to the other side. Whew. I truly hope this is a one time experience. Normally, the dogs are so skinny, timid and afraid to be much threat but in this case they seemed to have strength in numbers. Usually they are just looking for food scraps or handouts. If they approach you at all they most likely have their tail between their legs and heads bowed in a submissive position. I guess if it was all wine and roses it wouldn’t be too much of an adventure. Now we have the story.
Oh, almost forgot to post a couple highlights from the El Cuco town directly. One was the refreshing coconut water and flesh(meat) we were able to consume oceanside and the other was Gaila hand making torillas with the local ladies. Check out the two videos here: Sadly the other main event was turning a corner only to see a local man passed out on the sidewalk face down in the dirt. Someone had told us this was a drinking town with a surfing problem. Seriously though this was really sad. What was more shocking is the fact there were three guys standing right there. One who actively began going through the passed-out guys pockets, then grabbed his sandals and ultimately what appeared to be his bicycle too. We debated for some time if this was a friend helping his buddy or an opportunist thieving what he could when he could. Hard to know. Either way it was not pretty and down right disturbing.
Speaking of adventure, how about them border crossings? Two crossings in two days – what a joy. First Nicaragua to Honduras and then Honduras to El Salvador meant we had to have our easy going, patient selves ready for anything. Nic to Honduras was slow getting out but not too many hassles, just a little $2 here and $12 there kind of thing. Getting into Honduras on the other side however meant more money!! $70 is too much for what essentially was a one day stay. Don’t get me wrong, I quite like Honduras and enjoyed our more lengthy stay here before seeing the Copan ruins and D&D Brewery among other things. Our ride Tuesday and Wednesday was really about cutting through the 103 degree Wild West and avoiding the cane trucks. Serious cane trucks – like five semi trailers connected into what the Aussies call a road train I think. Not only are they slow, but they are incredibly dangerous for us on the bikes as any minute loose and very heavy stalks can jettison themselves from their uncovered storage. It would not be pretty. Regarding the Wild West, I will do a whole other post on that topic as I think surely this is much how it must have been back in our own country.
But let me finish with the El Salvadoran crossing. Getting out of Honduras was easy and getting through immigration in El Salvadora when way too smooth. Surely it couldn’t be that easy? It wasn’t. As I have highlighted in a Ride West safety article the next step is ADUANA. Getting the temporary vehicle importations addressed. As at so many other places we came upon the standstill of trucks. Trucks, trucks and more trucks. Holy crap there were a lot. So many that they actually hid any signage (if there was any) that told us where to go. At first a very pleasant surprise greeted us as we pulled into the correct spot – our new Mexican and Canadian friends had their Suburban and minivan in line for exit too. After a quick reunion we realized they had already been there waiting for about two hours. Sadly it was foreshadowing of our mid-day too. OMG I was losing the will to live. This was the longest individual wait yet. Yes, longer than the immigration exit in Cost Rica with Jeff and Monica. As Gaila waited in line – swimming in the fact she could not find a banos anywhere. I serviced the bikes. Had to do something – I can’t sit still that long. Ultimately the whole crossing took over 4 hours, maybe 4 1/2. Thankfully the ride to El Mira Flores was short and quite enjoyable. Well, except for the trash piles and burning cane fields or plastic. Sometimes hard to tell…
Yep, another couple of days adventure in the books. Now, off for some more.
P.S. I have a significant LOVE/HATE relationship with technology!!!! I can’t upload the video of Gaila making tortillas so it is going to have to wait until I have a better connection. Sorry about that. Oh and if there are lots of mistakes here that is because the wrong version uploaded. Took over 10 attempts!