Cloud Horses #2, Oil on Canvas, 24″ x 30″
From Santa Ana, El Salvador I took a short bus ride to Santa Tecla (Nuevo San Salvador) to switch to a bus for La Libertad. I was travelling with Ronnie from Australia who I met at Casa Verde, and we both wanted to go to El Tunco, the recommended spot for surfing. We caught another chicken bus for El Tunco and a couple of hopeful local youths guided us to the gate of Hostal La Sombra (above). The whole trip from Santa Ana cost less than $4. The hostal was $8 a nite.
It was great to just walk from the hostal right to the beach and swim in an amazingly warm Pacific Ocean. The beach is indeed perfect for surfing, and I was somewhat tempted to rent a board for $5 a day. The town wasn´t really my style, however. It is very small and compact, two main streets lined by hotels, restaurants, and various tourist based businesses, all with their walls connected in such a way that it resembles a rat maze for surfers. Its probably easy to close off and keep it secure, but I felt a little claustrophobic.
I enjoyed walking around and taking photos, but I couldn´t find an economical place to eat, and I really was looking forward to fresh fish, so I splurged on a $7 plate with a huge whole fish, something like a snapper. That evening I enjoyed talking to folks from different countries, only one of which was a bonafied surfer, though just about everyone in town is there to surf. Ronnie scheduled a $10 surf lesson the next day.
After just one night at El Tunco I grabbed a chicken bus to Libertad, where I switched to another bus to Playa San Diego. The drive is just 10 minutes, but it took almost an hour waiting for the bus and then the bus stops several times, etc. I was pretty tired when I got off the bus where the driver told me, then heaved on my backpack and guitar to walk three long blocks to Hostal El Roble.
I knew I was in the right place as soon as I glimpsed the amazingly spacious, tropically landscaped grounds. Soon I recognized Lozz, a cute Canadian girl I had met at Casa Verde. She was the one who recommended this hostel, where she will be working for the next four months or so. Thats what she does: looks and listens around for hostels that would like to trade free room and board for her to work there. It sounds like a great way to stretch your travel out indefinitely. Here is a picture of Dee Jay, who does the same thing and whose job Lozz is taking over:
I really enjoyed staying at El Roble for four days, the camaraderie of the guests is outstanding and Darrin, the Brit who owns the place is a great host. I enjoyed the company of Lozz and DJ and then a Czech couple whom I met at Casa Verde (it really is a small country). George is a meteorite hunter (!) and I hope to track them down the next time I´m in Tucson for the annual Gem Show which they always attend. Among others I also enjoyed the company of a retired couple from Scotland who were such experienced travellers that they had all their necessities in two small backpacks. Inspiring.
The only drawback of San Diego is the beach. The waves crash directly onto the beach, so swimming is difficult and the numerous riptides actually make it dangerous. You would have to be crazy to try to surf there. I enjoyed cooking fresh seafood each night I was there, though I had to take a long bus ride (only 4 km) to the pier at La Libertad to make my choices: one whole flounder $1, half a pound of large shrimp $2, large red snapper filet $3. Yes!
Down this road would come a pastry salesman twice a day selling great treats for a quarter (cora) each. You could tell he was coming by the bike horn he tooted. I really enjoyed my stay at El Roble, but the mosquitos enjoyed my flesh too much and I still have a long way to go, so I left for Alegria, where I am happily typing right now. But alas my time is up, so todays story will have to wait for tomorrow.