slow boat, country drive and border crossing to El Salvador
its a bit slower than planes, trains and automobiles, but we make it work... In the morning we decide to use the shade of the parking space to swap out the wrench come washer for some real washers we picked up during our drive yesterday. We get the bus jacked and are propping up the transmission when POP - our jack breaks. Luckily it’s only the head you spin to raise/lower the vehicle but we are now stuck with the bus a foot in the air, no way to lower it and one less vintage vw jack. Bummer, but we are ecstatic we hadn’t decided to try this repair roadside somewhere. After weighing options, we pull out the sledgehammer and pound the jack out from under the bus and set out looking for a replacement. We decide once again to finish the repair properly before continuing on and pull off the side of the road still in town just in case something else should go wrong.
We replace the wrench with washers without a hitch and the mount looks almost good as new. We buy some steak from the guy at the carniceria who offered to help us/let us borrow tools and then set out for El Salvador. Monterrico lies pretty far down a small peninsula running parallel to the mainland, so rather than backtrack we continue south, pull off to a ferry terminal and opt for a quick river crossing to another road out. The ferry turns out to be not much larger than E and made for a fun loading/unloading.
We spend a few sketchy moments pull onboard and then relax as the three boys who pilot the ship take us upriver past a few local fisherman and little else except dense jungle and birds. Not a bad way to spend the morning, we just wish they would have taken us all the way to El Salvador. Once we offload at the other "terminal" we find a long rough and bumpy dirt road back to the main highway and are suddenly very happy we didn’t put off this mornings repairs.
We make the border crossing by mid afternoon, happy to not have issues around lunch again but still find ourselves waiting another 3 hours before being in El Salvador. We had read that this crossing would be quick since we already have approval to travel throughout the C4 countries, and the passport stamp indeed was painless. The vehicle however was more difficult as each of the 4 countries still requires you to import/export the car when driving between. Still shouldn’t have been a huge deal but the system kept shutting down/locking up each time he tried to print out the required sticker for our forms. argh. I thought the beauty of central america travel is that there was no electronic system...
Finally across, we “race” to get to the coast before the sun drops. Racing in a vw bus really looks like a sunday drive for everyone else so i have to chuckle as i write it. The curvy/tunneled coastal road that heads south to the beaches around La Libertad is really something to behold. With a little brush clearing roadside it could easily rival the world’s famous ocean drives (monterrey/carmel california, the apostles in southern australia, etc) and we timed it perfectly with the setting sun lighting up the waves as we drove around each bay.
We take the first road into el Zonte (the northern-most of the beaches we’d read about) and drive until we hit the water. More specifically, until a food stand on the sand next to the water. We hop out to ask where we can camp and he basically points to the next road over. As jen chats with the restrauntuer in the dark i feel the ground moving under my feet and reach down to pickup a hermit crab that i had stepped on. During the 5 minute conversation, i never once successfully moved my foot to a place without feeling one of his wiggly friends beneath me. We’ll have to come back in the daylight to see whether my aim is simply really good or if millions of these little guys have taken over the place.
We drive back out, around and down the second road and all the way to the end (as directed by a few guys on the side of the road) and once we arrive discover that we are parked in Don Raul’s place. We check our notes and find we are in exactly the same place recommended to us by TLWS but we figured we wouldn’t be able to scope it out until tomorrow brought us more light. Raul remembered them well, welcomed us to his home and was happy to see we also brought our dog. It’s too dark to see our surroundings but we can hear the waves crashing just outside the compound we are parked in and we can barely wait to explore in the morning!