Ah Vacation – the BEST time ever!!
The Plan was to publish this travel journal Just in Time, meaning my friends and family could follow our adventures and lazy vacation living the moment we are experiencing it but the three traveling ladies exhausted 10 Gigs within a couple of days and that was all we had available for Internet use. So you will read my travel journal a tiny little bit delayed and I will only post 2 or 3 days at a time so that I don’t overwhelm you with 15 pages of trip report and photos.
I hope you are having fun reading it!
Day 1: Monday December 14th
7:00 p.m. our journey to El Salvador begins. Our trusted Russian Town car service picks us up at the house and gives Mike’s Rocket Launcher looking device (Christy came up with the description for the fishing pole carrier) a skeptical look and proceeds with loading our suitcases and fishing gear into the car, while Mike and I offer last instructions to Ed who is taking care of the house and animals while we are gone. Sky and Kodi are getting a last belly rub and Jack and Jules a little bit more catnip and off we go on our adventure.
We meet with our travel companions Christy and Cara at SeaTac airport, have dinner at Anthony’s while having a quick exchange with the Sudore’s who just came back from celebrating Nicole’s 18’s birthday in NY. At 11:00 p.m. we are boarding our 6-hour flight to Miami. After a 3-hour layover and 5 glasses of champagne, courtesy of the AA Admiral’s lounge and a really inexpensive first class ticket to El Salvador, we are now boarding our 2,5-hour flight to our final destination.
Day 2: Tuesday December 15th
Excitement rises as we are approaching the San Salvador airport. The airplane window provides a first glimpse onto El Salvador and it looks really really green and not much inhabited. After a smooth landing – our first task – immigration, which went very smooth, then hoping all our luggage made it and yes we got lucky everything arrived with us, final airport duty – customs. Now we are walking out of the terminal and our first impression is: Wow HOT, not just hot but hot and humid, breathing feels like taking a breath through a hot towel over your face. All four of us are quite tired but also excited because now the more adventurous part of the trip begins…with the type of vacations Mike and I usually take – renting a beach house off the beaten path – come with a lot of unknown; in this case will the driver who was arranged for show up at the airport, is the house really as nice as it looked on the internet (and does it even exist or was it all an internet scam), how will we communicate (none of us speak Spanish) and the most important question – will we survive? You might think, what a silly question but I have to tell you, out of the approximate 100 people we told we are going to El Salvador, 80 said OMG isn’t that dangerous, aren’t you afraid to get killed? Of course I am afraid to die, but no matter what you do or where you travel there is always the risk that something could happen to you, the plain fact of crossing a street could get you killed. If I would rule out all the countries where people can get killed when traveling, I guess I would have a very limited amount of countries to travel to…maybe 2? These days clearly you can get killed anywhere…Grenada, Costa Rica, Mexico, France and yes even in the US.
With that being said, not only did our landlord/beach house owner (Manuel) arrange for one car, he sent two cars to make sure everything will work out flawless and we have safe transportation out of San Salvador to the beach house. Carlos and Melvin, our two drivers, waited for us outside the airport together with an entire sea of people who were anxiously awaiting their loved ones. I have never seen a line this long in or outside an airport waiting for arriving passengers, there must have been 500 people standing in 100 degrees, patiently waiting. Melvin and Carlos, loaded our luggage – which is a ton of luggage with 3 girls and 1 fisherman…yes Mike is very lucky to travel with 3 lovely ladies. Mike’s fishing pole holder got his own ride down to the Barra di Santiago since it didn’t fit into the SUV that was picking us up.
We stopped at a wonderful bakery (San Martin in San Salvador) for a little bio break and to stock up on some goodies and then proceeded to our final destination.
The ride from the airport to our vacation home usually is one of the highlights. By choosing locations off the beaten path you also drive through very remote areas and you get a really good first impression of the infrastructure, layout, architecture and people of the country. Speed bumps e.g. in El Salvador are a bunch of orange traffic cones which narrow the street from multiple lanes to one and serve as a check point – meaning you make your first encounters with the local machine gun carrying policia, a very common picture in any of the Latin American countries. We also saw a bunch of interesting looking trucks stuffed to the rim and then a bit more driving at heart attack fast speed. Some of these overstuffed super tall skinny busses looked like they would fall over the moment they are making a slight turn, but no they stayed on the road and nothing fell off. Melvin, our driver, scared Mike (in the front seat) right out of the gate, driving 80 miles approaching one of the orange cone speedbumps and then hits the breaks the last second…yikes that beer in his hand almost flew out of the window. Oh yeah, that’s a thing when we travel to Latin/Central America…a cooler with local cervesa’s is waiting for us in the car.
2 hours later we are reaching the Barra de Santiago – a peninsula very close to the Guatemalan border – driving through some rugged terrain and giving us a first glimpse of the local community who calls the Barra their home. Melvin steers the SUV off the road and there it is – the ocean! 10 more minutes driving on the beach and dodging several herds of crazy wild dogs attacking the car we are reaching the beach house. Wow what a house, right on the beach, big, modern, airy and everybody is so incredible friendly and helpful, the groundkeeper Jose Mario and his wife (and cook) Marta greet us, show us our beautiful rooms and have dinner set up for us – local pupusas, a dish made out of corn meal and stuffed with all kind of goodies, either zesty or sweet. We had cheese Pupusas and Pupusas stuffed with Plantains. El Salvadoran Custard for dessert – yummy!
After checking out the house, the pool, the Estuary – we have the ocean to our left and an Estuary to our right, its super amazing to have water on both sides and having dinner it was time to get some well deserved sleep. By now we have been up more than 36 hours and what a sweet sleep it was to the sound of breaking waves and the tranquil humming of the air conditioner. Thank god (well Manuel) for air conditioner.
To be continued….