24 Feb 2015

A few days more

Our few days in El Salvador turned into a few days more when we found El Zonte, a fabulous surf bay with a surfer hostel that allowed overlanders to stay in the grounds. It has a lovely garden with a large pool, a number of huge parrots and an aging 3 foot long Iguana roaming the grounds. There was also a large terrace overlooking the bay with another small pool at one end.

We finally managed to drag ourselves away after 4 nights and drove the 150 miles to the other end of El Salvador and found a nice spot behind a restaurant. The next day we took a drive around Golfo de Fonseca and ended up driving within 100m of the top of  Conchagua Volcano up a very rough steep road. The idea was to get a good view of the Bay, but the volcano is so covered by trees there was no view on the way up and there is a guarded communication station with huge masts on the top. I walked up the last 100m to the perimeter fence but still could not get a view, until one of the guards called me up to the gate and let me in. Finally I could see over the trees, it did not help much due to the haze, but it was a good drive!

Without doing a major diversion there was nothing much to see in the short strip of Honduras between El Salvador and Nicuragua so we decided to do both borders in one day. We arrived at the El Salvador side of the Honduras border at 11.00 and were through both borders including a 2.5 hour drive and lunch by 17.00 and camped by a restaurant in Somoto about 15 miles in as we ( I mean Chris) did not want to cook after a fairly stressful day. The restaurant was listed in IOverlander as a place that allowed parking overnight, it did not mention the very loud karaoke that started at 8pm and went on until midnight, after which the customers moved into the car park for another 45 minutes of howling and cackling revving motor bikes and even a fight (tho the 2 drunken combatants were soon restrained by their amigos). Fortunately I think they were all too drunk to notice our tent on the roof in the middle of them.

The following day we moved to the more tranquil setting of Somoto Canyon and after a couple of days there we headed into the highlands and found some proper landcruiser roads and memories of Copper Canyon in Mexico (and also Mongolia when we had to cross a river). Initially the countryside was a cross between parts of the UK and Spain but later changed to more sub tropical vegetation similar to Guatemala. We had a vague plan of camping near a lake but night fell about 2 hours before we got there so we pulled into the driveway of a big house and asked if we could camp on their front lawn. It was actually a farm, the family could not have been more welcoming and actually wanted us to sleep in the house. We persuaded them to let us sleep in our tent, watched us put it up and then one by one went up the ladder to have a look.

Next morning we were woken around 5am by cocks crowing all around us and cows wanting to be milked, (just as loud but marginally more tuneful than the karaoke). At 6 am add motor bikes a tractor, dogs barking and some very loud machinery (probably for milking). Magically at 7 it all went very quiet and we slept again till 8!

After they had fed us a traditional breakfast of fried banana and cheese we headed back into the hills and we are now staying on a coffee plantation (which is listed on IOverlander) for a couple of days and plan to do the coffee tour tomorrow and hopefully some walking if it is dry. We have had our first rain for some weeks this evening. After which we will head for Leon and then to Granada (for a bit of culture) another Lake and probably a few more days on  beach before heading into Costa Rica.

Wild camping on the beach in El Salvador

Lots of tiny crabs with one huge claw

Chance meet with another overlander in a car park

The Pool in the garden at El Zonte

The pool on the terrace over looking the beach at El Zonte

Me in my new swimming shorts having a beer in the sun in the pool (sitting on a seat in the pool)

One ot the huge parrots roaming the garden in El Zonte (at least .8m from head to tail)

Marco the aging Iguana

Surfing in the bay

Views of the beach

Sunset on the beach
Possibly one of my best, but unfortunately last pictures with my 'new' sony camera. Following thid photo we had a few more beers, a bottle of wine with some giant shrimps and failed to negotiate the stepping stones across the stream back to camp and my new camera was submerged! It appears that I am getting unsteady in my old age, especially with very poor light - nothing to do with the alcohol you understand. It appeared to dry out after a few days and the charge light comes on when I plug it in, but that is as far as it goes and have had to revert to the old fugi , so I apologies if the quality of picture is reduced

Camping behind a restaurant near Golfo de Fonseca

Golfo de Fonseca

Lobster for dinner

Somoto Canyon

Getting a lift back by boat

Nicaragua highlands

Camping on a Nicuraguan Farm

With the family in their new kitchen

But they still cooked the old way out back

Chris shopping 'wild west' style

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