Friday, 5 October 2012

Day 89: somewhere in Guatemala to La Libertad, El Salvador.

Hi folks.
Today was a toughie. Up at 5am, on the road at 6am, border crossing into El Salvador, being escorted out of town by a man with a gun and finally finding a hotel in La Libertad at 7pm.
This will be a short blog because as you will appreciate I am writing it the day after. We had a good run out of our hotel somewhere near Chalchuapa in Guatemala. Stretches of good rural and forest road

interspersed with sections of slow town driving.

and cows.

We stopped for a break and met the snake lady.

Unfortunately she had a mental disorder so we didn't engage much with her, especially when she wanted quizales for a photo of the snake. ($$$)

We came to a town called Zacotecoluca which was easier to spell than to ride through. We got totally confused. So what do you do? You ask a policeman of course. We were amazed. Not only was he very helpful, he jumped on his scooter and escorted us out of town. With a smile! That's him in the flouro jacket. Not often you get escorted out of town by a man with a gun! (Speaking only for myself of course!)

Over here you carry a shotgun as sort of the final male accessory.

Eventually we got to the border only to find a queue of trucks about three kilometres long. I kid you not. We had to negotiate our way between the trucks. We were great - I only hit one, only once and it was a glancing blow. Not too many photos I'm afraid as Shirley was hanging on. Funny that.

Some drivers were hunkering down for a long stay.

It got a bit tight at times.

Shirley even got a great photo of the back of my jacket.

Up at the head of the queue, guess what? Consultants! Tony and Antonio!

They "explained" that the computer system at immigration had been down and had just come back on again and for a certain series of "encouragements" we could be promoted to the head of all the lines. Isn't it funny how that happens! So we put our scruples in our pockets and away we went. The Guatemala side was quick enough - all we had to do was to cancel our temporary importation of motor vehicle certificates.

In the meantime Shirley and Kiwi had a close encounter with a toy squirrel.

However we hit the El Salvador side at lunchtime and there was an important game of soccer involving Barcelona on the tv so we had to wait. And wait. And wait a little more. We're not good at that.

Finally we were out the door and the obligatory little drive into the next country before stopping to discuss the consultants' fee and the impacts of inflation. We were pretty much gouged really - it cost Shirley and I about $NZD60 - we're philosophical about it. After all they spent about two hours with us. But it rankles nonetheless.
It felt liberating as we rode away from the border and towards La Libertad. The route the consultants suggested to us took us down the coast and through beautiful mountain passes with tunnels

and then suddenly - the Pacific Ocean! Our ocean!

Time was getting on and we had 47kms to go before La Libertad so we got on with it. We had looked up some likely hotels there so everything seemed ticketyboo. Then crap! Dick didn't realised that the town we were riding through was La Libertad and kept on riding out the other side and away......! I thought that he must have had another plan and didn't like the look of La Libertad and was going to try somewhere else.
About 25kms up the road we stopped for a confab and he asked me how much further it was to La Libertad. I explained that we had been through it and that it was 25kms behind us and he uttered a word that I won't repeat because I know Lachie reads my blogs. We then had a series of fruitless discussions with policemen and men carrying shotguns before deciding to go back. Which we did. By now it was nearly 7pm and very dark and very dangerous with dogs and cyclists and stray pedestrians out on the road, not to mention snakes, cougars and mountain lions.
Eventually we made it back to a hotel in La Libertad - they said they would hold the restaurant open for us for 20 minutes so we were on a rush.
However we had a great meal and I had a great sleep!
Good night then. :-)
Today's run: Probably about 440kms
Cumulative: 24,220kms
Tipovers: 3

Location:La Libertad, El Salvador.

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