So we crossed the border into El Salvador at Cd. Pedro de Alvarado. An official stamped the Guatemala vehicle permit and then we went to immigration with our passports. The stamp for Guatemala is actually good for El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua as well so the lady said we could go ahead to the El Salvador side. When we drove there we had to get a new vehicle permit and were told that we needed to go back to the Guatemala side and get that permit finalized. Apparently one stamp wasnít enough, they wanted two stamps! So back we had to go and get another stamp on the permit, drive back to the El Salvador side and then we got landed with the slowest official ever there. It took three hours in total to get our new vehicle permit and off we went. Again, they didnít even ask for Francieís paperwork.
We spent our first night in El Salvador parked beside a restaurant in La Libertad right on the beach. The currency is US Dollars so things were automatically a little more expensive. We went for a walk along the pier and there was the biggest fish market I have ever seen. They had every kind of fish you could think of and we were horrified as well to see that they were all selling sea turtle eggs. One guy tried to convince us they were aphrodisiacs.
My friend Ethan who I played in the ceili band with back in Chicago is living in San Salvador with his wife Bess who works for the US Embassy. The next day we drove to the outskirts of the city to a shopping mall where we met Ethan and followed him back to their house. We had to go through two armed security checkpoints just to get into their estate. The house was beautiful and they have a gorgeous black labradoodle called Osso. Himself and Francie immediately hit it off and never stopped playing the whole time we were there. It was such a nice stop to have. We wouldnít have ventured into the city on our own if we didnít know anyone there. Ethan works as a photographer for the El Mundo newspaper, one of the biggest newspapers in El Salvador so he knows the city inside out. He brought us for a drive to the city centre and we went to see Archbishop Romeroís tomb.In his job he takes photos mainly of murder scenes so every street we turned onto he had a different story. San Salvador has the third highest number of homicides in the world and itís all mainly due to drug trafficking and gang bangs. We were amazed at how westernized and americanized all of El Salvador is. Compared to Guatemala the old traditions and culture are more or less completely gone. They donít wear the costumes anymore, itís all westernized clothing. The city was extremely modern and had everything from Pizza Hut to Subway and even a Wal-Mart (it was called Hiper Paiz instead). We were delighted though as we got to stock up on toilet paper, dog food, cereal and other things we were starting to get low on. Ethan and Bess treated us to some fine dining as well. We went to a German restaurant one night and a Salvadorian one another night. I have to say though in the Salvadorian restaurant we both had steaks as we hadnít had any since Mexico.
We stayed with Ethan and Bess for five days and it was such a great break from the van. It was a vacation from our vacation. After been at the beach in Guatemala the van was filthy with dust and sand. We gave it a thorough clean and Ethanís maid even did all our laundry! We got to download more Gerry Ryan and Joe Duffy podcasts; we were down to our last episodes driving in there. We caught up with phone calls to family and friends and got to ship all our souvenirs back to Chicago. Ethan brought us to a beach club in Playa Costa del Sol where they are members. The waves here were a lot calmer than Guatemala and the water was so warm. We had a swim and then enjoyed a few ďcoco locosĒ. It is a coconut filled with vodka and coconut milk. After you finish drinking it they cut the coconut in half so you can eat the vodka flavored coconut. Ethan had other friends in for the weekend, Rebecca and Kyle. Rebecca played the fiddle so it was great to sit down with both of them and play a few tunes. Thank you so much Ethan and Bess for having us, we really appreciated it.
After we left San Salvador we drove to the town of Suchitoto. Itís a really nice cobble stone town and we were lucky to find parking right down by the lake.From there we were only a couple hours drive from the Honduras border which we headed for the next day.