I realise the end of the last post indicated that with the loss of Gina and G I was all alone. Not accurate at all. First up, I also bid farewell to Ellen who, with a further 9 months of Latin American leg-work ahead of her, opted to stay in Xela and learn some much needed Spanish for a while. Secondly, I am still traveling with her sister Catriona, with whom things have gotten rather serious. We are now a couple, tackling the open road together, and things couldn’t be going more swimmingly. I started this trip with my buddy G, with the sole aim of Argentina in our sights. I’m now with my girlfriend Catriona and in a few weeks (give or take, it’s all pretty vague) we’ll be flying to the other big ‘A’ – Australia, to work, make money and take things from there. It’s been a bit of whirlwind to say the least but a very happy storm system to be swept up in I must say. Before Australia though, we have a few hurdles, hills and hiccups to negotiate first.
Getting the visa for Australia of course being quite the priority. Catriona got hers worryingly quickly, one e-mail (and a possible bribe) and instantly there was a signed photo of Tony Abbot in her inbox entitled, “You’re bloody in mate!” I naively wrote down that I’d lived in China once upon a time, making me a huge tuberculosis risk apparently. This required a chest X-Ray from an Australian affiliated doctor in San Salvador, unsurprisingly the capital of El Salvador. Costing a cool $100 and a charming detour to the craziest city in Central America, said scan has been sent and I await Tony’s permission with baited breath.
San Salvador was mental though. The city centre was about 20 blocks of never-ending markets, selling bras, pirate DVD’s, food blenders and toothpaste – in that order of abundance. Amongst this was a church built to resemble a giant rainbow. From the outside it resembled an air craft hangar on a diet. Inside it was actually pretty spectacular. I took the time to find a replacement beard trimmer for the one I’d “left behind” somewhere in Guatemala. Costing $21 after some haggling I returned to our guesthouse to immediately locate the ‘missing’ trimmer in the strangest of places – my wash bag. So if anyone wants a genuine El Salvadorian shaver, give me a buzz (boom boom), a bargain at $22.
Before the capital, Catriona and I found ourselves on the black sands of El Tunco, which is famous for it’s big surf breaks. After several attempts the only thing broken was my resolve, which admittedly was a lot cheaper to break than my rental board. The waves were just ridiculous. Local nine-year olds skimmed past my limp body like sailfish as I gurgled for help in the wash. I promptly swapped my surf board for a body board and played in the shallows with the fat kids.
And now, we are in Juayua (pronounced yooahooa, like Dale Winton saying hello) which is a great base for us to explore a bunch of villages on the Ruta De Las Flores. Brightly coloured buses costing 25 cents pick you up at great speed (catching a bus here is a bit like getting on your first poma ski lift) and you then time your dismount to land somewhere close to a market square or restaurant. It’s great fun and so far, despite the inevitable safety warnings, locals have been unbelievably friendly and generous – two such groups giving us lifts to and from a wee lake in a volcanic crater. Seems to be a lot of volcanoes in these parts. You can call me Mr Lava Lava.