Days 127 to 128 May 2024

Posted by The Madbiker on Thu, May 16, 2024

Day 127

After spending 2 nights at my accommodation in Santa Ana it was time to leave. Due to having to return to Panama to attend to some personal business, I have had to cut my Central America trip short. Now having no time to visit Mexico, it was time to start heading South towards Panama but not before taking another couple of days to explore El Salvador.

I left Santa Ana at about 9 ‘o’clock in the morning heading generally South, and an hour later I had stopped for a coffee high above lake Coatepeque. The view was great except for the heat haze that restricted it somewhat.

I got back on the bike and headed South past the town of Sonsonate and then turned East on to road CA-12 that runs parallel with the Pacific coastline. The road had about 4 tunnels on it and although they are relatively short, they are unlit.

It was difficult to get a clear view of the coast due to thick roadside vegetation or the houses that were built with a great sea view, but on the occasions that I did catch a glimpse it was stunning.

I stopped at a roadside cafe, perched on a cliff, that had great views of the ocean and beach below. I ordered a couple of coffees, I smoked a black market cigar that I had purchased in Santa Ana, and I sat absorbing the view for over an hour.

I had planned to stay in San Salvador for a night but my friend Manuel, the owner of the hostel in Santa Ana, advised me not to bother as it was too overcrowded and there was not much to see or do there. Instead he recommended that I head for the town of Suchitoto, North of the Capital city, that sits on the South shore of a large lake formed by the Rio Largo. So after finishing my coffees and cigar I set off for Suchitoto but to get there I had to drive through San Salvador.

San Salvador was nuts! Miles and miles of disorganised chaos! The city is quite big and it was choked with traffic, and thousands of pedestrians wandering in and about the stationary vehicles stuck in the traffic clogged roads.

The city also has a central tarmac road that is exclusively for use by the city’s trams, but it was stuffed full of every type of vehicle (including my bike) except the for trams that are supposed to use it, as drivers tried to negotiate the traffic congestion.

The area near the city centre where all the photogenic buildings are was also being dug up with extensive road diversions etc. so I gave that a miss and headed out of the city. Despite not stopping, it took me over an hour to get through the city and out of the other side.

Fortunately Suchitoto was only about an hour’s ride from San Salvador and by 3 o’clock I had reached my accommodation for the night, a small hostel that I got for 21 US Dollars for the night. Again it was very nice as I was the only guest, so I had the place to myself, and it had secure parking for the bike (guard dog included!)

Then I did my usual thing of exploring the town and taking a few photos of the place. Although the town was not very big it was very nice and very clean. The town’s street are all made of old cobbles which made for an interesting ride on my bike with it’s knobbly tyres.

Day 128

My friend Miguel from the hostel had told me that there was a ferry crossing from Suchitoto to the other side of the lake so I had decided to take that as opposed to riding all the way around it by road. Once I was packed I headed down from the town on a very steep cobbled road and eventually found myself at the edge of the lake. There was no actual car park or dock, just a bit of the lake shore where the ferry would dock against.

I waited on the ferry crossing the lake and it arrived at just before 9 o’clock. I rode the bike on to the ferry and I waited.

The ferry was not going to leave with just me and my bike on it, so I had to wait until other people turned up to use it. About 45 minutes later a car appeared with 3 people in it and once that was reversed on to the ferry, it set off for the other side of the lake.

About 40 minutes later the ferry reached the other side of the lake.

I then rode along the road that goes from Chalatenango to Osicala and although it was an enjoyable ride on this very twisty road, again the heat haze and the dense vegetation along the roadside limited what I could see. I did however pass over a bridge where a deep gorge had been cut in the land by the water flowing down from the mountains.

This road was also populated with “Tumulos” but as I previously said, at least here in El Salvador they are good enough to paint them and provide suitable advance warning so that I could slow down for them.

I then dropped down off the mountains in to the city of San Miguel where I had booked a small hotel for the night for 21 US Dollars with secure parking. The guy that ran the place was a bit of a pain in the ass as he refused to take a 100 US dollar bill and told me to go and change it before paying him. I don’t usually carry such large notes but when I went to the ATM in Santa Ana that’s what the machine gave me.

So I trotted off in to the town to find a bank and have a look around. I found a bank quite quickly and got what I needed, then I saw a barbers and as I badly needed a haircut I stopped in for a haircut and open razor shave for 6 US Dollars. The town was not that nice and all that I did was take a quick photo of the cathedral and then I headed back to the hotel to plan my next day.

By late that evening I had decided to cross in to Honduras and then cross in to Nicaragua the following day, I purposely didn’t plan anything else for that day as my previous border crossing experiences had shown me that they can be both an arduous and time consuming process.

With having to make 2 border crossings in one day, El Slavador in to Honduras and then Honduras in to Nicaragua, and make a 130 mile ride through Honduras in between both borders, I suspected that I was in for a potentially stressful and possibly even entertaining time the next day at the border crossing pantomime show.