Day 52, Mile 3333: Saying Goodbye to Guatemala, Advoiding some Bandits, and Crossing into El Salvador
2 February 2017
El Tunco, El Salvador
I sadly left San Pedro yesterday to continue my journey south. On top of being slightly depressed that I had to leave this little slice of heaven, I was also nervous about the bandits I might encounter between San Pedro and Santiago. Apparently there was a robbery just two weeks ago and it happened in the middle of the afternoon on a Sunday. So after locking down as much gear as possible and with my pepper spray ready in my pocket, I started my ride.
Leaving San Pedro, I found more fantastic views and a very good road. I passed locals collecting and stacking firewood on the sides of the road and apparently this is pretty good business here because there were many people doing this. Another thing I noticed was except for the occasional truck here and there collecting this wood; I was basically alone on the road. After about 10 miles, the road started to slope down back towards the lake and I could see where the road went from very nice pavement to a horrible, sketchy dirt/sand road. So this was it, the bad section of road that is supposedly 3km long and known for bandits. I tightened my grip on the handlebars and started down.
When I first heard about this section of road, I was told that it was “very violent” and I thought there was some meaning lost in the translation. I now know that it was pretty accurate. Even with my motorcycle I had to slow basically down to a walking speed which didn’t help my nervous mood. I tried to look everywhere at once while keeping my speed up as best as possible. Well I did find locals, but thankfully these were just road workers.
You could tell that this was a trouble section of the road. Apparently it’s a constant battle between maintaining it and landslides during the rainy season. After I realized that I wasn’t going to be robbed, I was able to relax and smile and wave at the local workers. Very shortly after, I was back on good road and was wondering why I was so nervous in the first place. I made my final goodbyes to Lake Atitlán and had a quick victory breakfast in Santiago to celebrate my safe crossing. I also had a plan for the rest of the day. I would stop at the border town of La Hachadura for the night and then stop in El Tunco, El Salvador the following night.
I stayed at Hotel Los Cuernos in La Hachadura which was literally 100 feet from the border. For $20 bucks, I had a clean room, decent WiFi, and a nice restaurant. While it was a little expensive for Guatemala, it was very convenient and I would recommend it. The border crossing was once again easy and fairly quick taking less than 2 hours to completely clear myself and my bike at both sides. Looking back, I could have easily crossed the day before without having to stop for the night. The guides I found online were pretty accurate so there’s nothing I can really add on the crossing. I have been using the app iOverlander for most of my border crossing info and it has been a great help. I highly recommend downloading the free app.
I was met in El Salvador with large wide roads without any topes (speed bumps). I made fantastic time even though some of the roads were pretty rough and found myself in the little surf town of El Tunco by early afternoon. The town is basically a one way street with maybe a dozen little restaurants and bars and a ton of little hostels. Apparently this town is known for its surfing but I am hoping for more wind than surf.
I ended up staying at the Casa Mc Koï hostel. They only had one room left, their best room, but for a mere $30 USD it was mine and it even had hot water and AC. I really liked the vibe of the place as well, it was very family like. Apparently most of the guests have been coming here for years at the same time so they were all old friends. They made me feel very welcomed and I quickly felt like one of the group.
Sadly it looks like I won’t get any wind here. I tmade the most out of it though and enjoyed the sunset on the beach while sipping fantastic .75 cent beers. Looking at the map tomorrow I’m debating where I’m going to stay for the night. I want to drive through Honduras straight through but that is going to be a long, hot day. I guess I’ll see how things go in the morning.
Best Part: Easy crossings, fantastic vibes in El Tunco.
Worst Part: No wind 🙁