We had one last memorable weekend in Central America before heading back to Antigua for our last night. After much debate and advice from locals and travelers alike, Heidi and I decide to spend our last weekend on the beach in El Salvador. We heard that El Tunco, which was five hours by shuttle, was one of the best beaches in the area. We left early Saturday morning, had a strangely uneventful bus ride and border crossing and reached the tiny surf town by just after noon. Heidi and I dropped our bags at Hostel Papaya and headed to the beach.
The beach here, partially black sand and partially rocks, is gorgeous. I've never seen waves like the ones at El Tunco. The power of the water rushing back into the ocean creates a sounds similar to thunder and the waves coming in often crash into the wave retreating creating a stunning spray of whitewater. While this is definitely a tourist town, most of the tourist seemed to be from El Salvador and the neighboring countries. We were told throughout the weekend that this was one of the best places in Central America to surf. At any given time there were a couple dozed surfers catching waves and usually a professional photographer or two hoping to get a good shot. Heidi and I laid out, swam and debated taking surf lessons for a few hours before heading back to our hostel, getting cleaned up and following a fellow backpacker's recommendation for a local pizza place (great recommendation, Denmark!)
After dinner we returned to our hostel and ended up hanging out in the common area (a deck over a small bay with hammocks, picnic tables and an excessive amount of beer) with a hilarious group of guys from England, Canada and Scotland. We hung out for a couple hours, mostly learning provocative new drinking games and trying to not to stare too long at Hot Tom.
Just after it started pouring rain, we decided to head to a nearby club. We took the beach route which meant that we were completely drenched (and laughing hysterically) by the time we arrived. Somehow everyone else seemed to have remained dry despite the storm and we were the subject of more than a few sideways glances. Heidi and I made our way upstairs where we watched the most amazing lightening storm I've ever seen with Bad Tom (his name, not mine) and Canada (who will from now on be referred to as Turquoise - names are hard). Bad Tom didn't take it well when Heidi was asked to dance by a couple of surfers who we had chatted with earlier in the evening and couldn't be older than 19. A couple of minutes worth of talking shit, a few threats and the boys wandered off defeated.
We woke up the next morning and went directly to the beach with Bad Tom where we were thrown around by the incredibly strong waves for a couple minutes before heading back to the hostel's pool. Bad Tom, who was born in Scotland but is half American and half British, is a photographer who frequently works in Central America. He invited us to go with him to La Libertad, a neighboring beach town, to check out the fish market. Bad Tom insisted that the best way to get to La Libertad was to hitchhike because the chicken buses are slow. It didn't take much convincing before Heidi and I were on the side of the road, thumbs out. Within a couple minutes we were standing up in the back of a pickup truck flying down the road. I have to agree with Bad Tom that this certainly is the way to see El Salvador. (Again, sorry mom.)
We headed straight to the crowded fish market once we arrived in La Libertad where we watched as boats were lifted from the ocean and fisherman sold directly to the locals. The remaining fish were carted a fifty feet or so down to the market where it is then sold by dozens of vendors. Less than a block away, there are nearly 20 restaurants crammed together targeting locals on vacation and selling various seafood plates, including some of the most amazing ceviche I've ever had.
We hitchhiked back to the hostel for another night of hanging out with the guys who had apparently decided that they were really going to let it all out. After another round of drinking games led us to dinner at a local barbeque (where we were when the power briefly went out to the whole town). These guys had no shame and were very vocal about their beliefs about most American women (“They're all easy!”) and their disappointment with us for not living up to the reputation (“You're not easy?!”). We went out for one last drink at the nearby club, celebrated Turquoise' birthday with a (beyond creepy looking) cake and ended the night trying not to notice that there was a couple getting' busy in a car parked 15 feet away from us.
Our last day in El Tunco was more of the same; beach, pool, fish tacos. While eating lunch before we caught our ride back to Antigua, Heidi and I were literally left speechless by the ridiculous amount of gorgeous surfers surrounding us. American, Brazilian and El Salvadorian. Tanned, shirtless and with accents. I love this place.
(I'm well aware of how boy crazy this blog entry make me sound. Trust me, you'd be boy crazy here too.)