Santa Ana, El Salvador
Getting to Santa Ana involved crossing back into Guatemala from Honduras, and then into El Salvador. El Salvador was the first country I didn’t need to get a stamp in my passport, which kind of bummed me out. I want to fill my passport with glorious stamps of all the places I have been, especially since I know this paper stamp process will eventually end in my lifetime. Also, as we drove down the roads, I was surprised at how nice the roads were to drive on. I know I have been talking about how bad the roads have been in these Central American countries so far, so El Salvador surprised me. Even though the roads were nicer, there was still a garbage problem that littered the sides of the road.
When I got to Santa Ana, I checked into one of the best hostels I’ve been into. It was clean, welcoming, organized, and set up in a way every backpacker would like to see a hostel organized. The owner, Carlos, was a great personality who genuinely wanted us travelers to have the best experience and information possible for our journey. I booked for two nights here and because I arrived at a reasonable time, one of the girls I traveled to El Salvador with, in the van, and I headed out to some ruins outside of town on a chicken bus. This was my first chicken bus experience and I didn’t think it was that bad at all! We even got back into town in time to take a walk out on the town to view some of the cities historical buildings and cathedrals just before they started to close. Pretty eventful day I think!
The next morning a group of us from the hostel all got up to go hike up Santa Ana Volcano. We took the first chicken bus to get there at 7 am, which was fine, but after getting to the entrance of the park we had to wait for more foreign travelers to make a group to go on the hike. One of the requirements for hiking this volcano is that you have to hike with a guide and police officer.
The hike was tough, but totally worth it. I did my best to just pace myself on the climb up. On these hikes, there always seems to be a group of people that want to race up the damn thing. Fortunately, I didn’t feel that on this hike, like in previous ventures. When we did get to the top, it was extremely windy. Regardless, it was a beautiful view. The air smelled with sulfur and down in the pit of the volcano it looked like a lagoon with steam coming off into the air.
Originally, I was planning to head to the coast to learn how to surf, but the transportation system required me to take multiple buses because there wasn’t anything direct. Getting to the end of this trip has left me a little more lazy and if I can’t just jump onto a van service where I want to go, I can’t be bothered. If I go surfing, perhaps I’ll try in Nicaragua. I heard there are some pretty cool places to go, but the waves will be a bit bigger too. I will have to go to San Salvador to then catch a bus to Nicaragua. On this trip, we will have to cross through two boarders of Honduras.
The next stop will be in Leon, Nicaragua!
Side Note: The one thing I do have to say is that on most of my trip, so many people told me to skip El Salvador or only go there for surfing. People said not to go there because it was dangerous and full of corruption. I found El Salvador to be a beautiful country full of really helpful and nice people. I never felt unsafe once, just as I never felt unsafe in any of the countries I’d been to so far on this trip. I’d be walking down the street and people would see me and point me in the direction I needed to go in a welcoming and warm way. I encourage travelers to NOT skip this country. It should be part of your Central America itinerary.