“El Salvador is that little dynamo in Central America that past visitors just keep going on and on about it. Glimpses of tropical paradise, lush tracts of pre-industrial national park, colonial splendour astride pristine volcanic lakes, searing colours and a fierce creative vision sit quietly in the shadows of an indomitable local pride. Here you’ll find a glorious coastline with world class waves, a culture clad capital famed for its nightlife, hard core war tourism and small town charm by the plaza load”. Excerpt from Lonely Planet’s guide to Central America.
El Salvador’s reputation preceded itself! I have to admit that I was extremely concerned about entering this previously ‘off-zone’ country, which some people had warned me to avoid completely.
From Santa Rosa Copán (in Honduras) I took the ‘standing room only’ micro bus to Nueva Ocotepeque (2-hrs). From there I was whisked to the border crossing, at El Poy, by a waiting taxi. Apparently my bus fare included the 10-minute taxi ride to the border!
The taxi driver was exstatic when he found out that I was from the UK. “Ah, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea.” Sadly his enthusiasm was lost on me. After a few minutes of shouting out footballers names, and glancing in the mirror at the non plussed expression on my face, he too lost interest in this pointless conversation!
It was a swift and painless border crossing leaving Honduras. However, the El Salvador border staff sifted through my passport with alarming scrutiny.
When eventually all the formalities were complete, it was a short walk to the nearby ‘terminal’ where a local ‘chicken bus’ was waiting to take me the 20-minute journey to my next port of call – La Palma (El Salvador).
Next stage: Beautiful Suchitito.