After our accidental eight mile trek round the city, we retired to the hostel for a shower and to chill in the ‘social area’ as per the rules of the house. There’s really not much at the hostel, as said previously, Los Amigos set the bar really high. Our roomie, Melodie, told us about a great hostel in Copán Ruinas where you can get a private room for $10 and there is a bar/restaurant on site, which is great for us as we have found them to be cheaper!!
Entertainment here at La Zona Hostel consists of a fuzeball table, giant jenga and chess. Alongside that, you have a bar which is ‘really only for Saturday,’ and he’d ‘have to check if I can have a vodka and Coke before then.’ I mean SERIOUSLY!!!! You can’t bring any food or drink from outside in, yet there is nothing to eat here, they only have Coke, water and Powerade behind the bar too! Luckily, I got my way and he made me a vodka and Coke, of which there was barely any vodka in, either that or it was so weak I couldn’t taste it. So, when you’re that restricted, and the beers are the same price as soda/water, you drink beer.
I have never ever ever been a beer drinker. I had half a Coors Light at the Indy 500 practice, and that’s only because it was free. I’m 100% a wine drinker, red wine at that. But, when faced with a situation such as this, it calls for a change. Up I got and asked for a beer. The barman/check in guy recommended ‘Suprema’ as opposed to Pilsner. I had one swig and I must confess, it actually tasted nice! Much lighter than the Pilsner Nathan was drinking. The same guy asked if we wanted to join them on a pub crawl for the evening. If our budget wasn’t as tight, we would have, but due to now having to reshuffle flights and potentially lose money as well as having to fork out more, our belts were now tightened and we were budgeting every day.
Our evening consisted of watching a couple more episodes of ’13 Reasons Why,’ before hitting the sack ready to explore again on Friday. I woke up another year older. The plan today was to visit Los Volcanoes National Park which meant catching a bus from San Salvador to Santa Ana and then another one to the park. Easy right?
We asked the guys in yellow behind the desk how we get to Santa Ana. On his map he drew the bus stop about a half mile away and we needed to catch bus 201. We sauntered down to the bus stop and waited as every other bus number passed us except 201. Then it arrived. We then realised we weren’t actually at the bus stop but nevertheless the driver opened the door and on we jumped. It cost $0.85 each for the two hour trip to Santa Ana. The bus was the usual pimped out ex school bus adorned with bright paint and weird drawings. Still, it was actually quite comfortable. Comfortable enough to nod off.
The traffic, as seems to be the case with all Central American countries so far, was dreadful. As mentioned previously, leave plenty of time to get places as the journeys stated have not been accurate once yet. We got dropped off on a random street in Santa Ana and tried to look for a bus terminal so we could catch bus 248 to Los volcanoes. A taxi pulled up next to us and I asked how much it would be. He gave me $75 to which I firmly responded no and that we’d take the bus. Give him his due, he poked his head into the bus station and asked for us. It turned out that the next bus was at 2pm and it would literally be driving there and back so we’d have ten minutes in the park. Through his broken English that’s the gist of what I got anyway.
So that plan was well and truly scuppered. I’m not sure how true it was but we couldn’t find another terminal anywhere and no matter how many times I pointed at 248 in my Central America guide book, we had blank faces staring back at us. A bonus to being in Santa Ana was that we got to see the Cathedral of Santa Ana. This Gothic-style building was beautiful. Located in Parque Libertad, this square is surrounded by Spanish colonial buildings, so the cathedral provides a contrast to that. It was only fully completed last year.Teatro de Santa Ana a beautiful, elegant pastel green theatre in Parque Libertad.The park was also home to a lot of market stalls selling all kinds of goods. It was incredibly busy. Schools seemed to appear to get out early and everywhere we turned we were actually getting funny looks. We turned another corner to see this church.After aimlessly wandering round for a couple of hours, we decided to cut our losses and head out of Santa Ana. The big buildings were beautiful architectural splendours and the streets were narrow and crowded with very little pavement. The cars don’t give way at all to pedestrians and they certainly like the sound of their horns here! Somehow we had to find our way back to the ‘bus terminal.’ We had gotten a bit lost after strolling round but after about twenty minutes in the blazing heat we found a bus termina just a little way up from where we got dropped off.
Again, every bus except for the 201 passed us and we started to think we were in the wrong place. Unsurprisingly, we were. I went into the shop behind us and asked if we were in the right place. Between my Spanglish and my guide book, it turned out we were four blocks and a right turn away. Turns out we can’t count either as we walked up three blocks, stopped then asked again if we were in the right place. The guy then got up and actually took us to the bus station. I say station it is literally a marquee with people seeing drinks underneath it.
Back safely on the bus we headed back to San Salvador. There were no chains of food to eat at in Santa Ana either so by the time we got back to San Salvador two hours later we were hungry. The bus didn’t drop us off from where we got picked up from, it terminated at Terminal de Occidente, the actual bus station. That meant a two mile trek back to the hostel. I felt so ill. I had a pounding headache, my mouth was so dry and I felt incredibly weak and sick. I don’t think we were walking very fast at all. We hadn’t been drinking enough.
It took us about an hour or so to walk back and as we got to our dorm room I headed straight for a shower. Once we had cooled down and drank some water we chilled downstairs at the bar for a while, where I downloaded a couple of ‘learn to speak Spanish’ apps. There were only really pizza places near our hostel and the Mexican I wasnted to eat at decided to shut at midday so for my birthday dinner I chose Tony Roma’s, about 3/4 a mile away from our hostel. Hungry, we headed out for an early dinner. The restaurant was empty and we had to wait a while to have a waiter who spoke English.
I ordered a Pina strawberry swirl to drink…which was delicious. We shared some mozzarella sticks to begin with, I had a delicious salad while Nathan had ribs then we had an Oreo fudge brownie chocolate dessert, all for $40. It was a delicious meal.As we sat there finishing up, we were oblivious to the downpour occurring outside. The ironic thing is that there were actually umbrellas in the hostel we could have taken but decided against it. We walked outside and a delightful El Salvadoran man held his umbrella over us and then when we got to the main road, we went separate ways. It was absolutely hammering down.
Yet it was so refreshing. We weren’t far away from our hostel anyway and we got back in no time, soaked through.It was a good birthday topped off by a lovely meal 😊! Then it was time to learn more Spanish before hitting the sack.
Saturday was a very lazy day mainly due to the storm. We did decide to venture to Denny’s for breakfast though, a place we didn’t visit in the states.The blue sky was so misleading. We had to wait about twenty minutes for a table but then we ordered pancakes, bacon, sausages, hash browns and Nathan also had eggs. It was tasty but IHOP is definitely better. Full, we wandered up to the Tica Bus station to book our bus out of El Salvador and into Honduras for Sunday.
We had decided to leave El Salvador a day earlier than anticipated. Despite the beautiful architecture in Santa Ana, I didn’t particularly like walking round it, especially when trying to locate the bus stops with the stares and kids yelling ‘gringos, gringos, gringos.’ It was quite unnerving and the first place I haven’t really wanted to stay. The bus network in El Salvador is tremendously expansive yet very confusing as you don’t get picked up and dropped off in the same place (we found) and the bus stops aren’t all that visible. On the actual bus stops I found, there wasn’t a route described or depicted so that also made it more confusing.
We got our tickets then spent the rest of the day chilling listening to the storm and chatting to people in the bar. I am desperately trying to learn Spanish so when the girl at the bar saw me using Duolingo she suggested Memrise which I also downloaded. She has managed to pick up the Spanish she knows just through conversing and listening with those speaking Spanish so there’s hope for me yet! They have been travelling running bars and hostels and were hosting a party Saturday night at our hostel. Because of this, they only had alcoholic drinks. I mean seriously, they had sold out of water!!!!!!
Another reason we decided to leave a day early. Still, we had a few drinks, wandered down to Wendy’s to grab a burger then retreated to our room whilst getting woken up by two extremely loud German girls. El Salvador hadn’t lived up to my expectations really, but that’s probably also down to the weather and us getting mightily lost with the bus network.
Still…there were still some good sights and it was good to get the legs working for a good lot of miles a day 😊
Until next time….