Day 100 – Acajutla, ES to El Tunco, ES

Day 100 – Acajutla, ES to El Tunco, ES      11/29/10      Mileage: 66

I felt slighted out of a beach day yesterday, so after breakfast we headed south along the coat in search of a hotel on the beach.

Our “expensive” hotel…

I had picked this road out because on Google maps it looked like 50 miles of twisty goodness right along the Pacific Ocean. It turned out to be an awesome road and could easily be confused with parts of the Pacific Coast Highway in California. (For you riders, take the CA-2 south from Acajutla to La Libertad)

We rode it to all the way to La Libertad and checked out a few places there. None that we liked were on the beach, so we backtracked a bit to where we had passed some of the famous surf breaks that also had some hotels catering mostly to surfers. We checked out a couple but none fit the bill. Brian was tired of looking and just went back to La Libertad but I pressed on with the search for beach hotel! I struck pay dirt after another three tries and landed at the Tortuga Surf Lodge.

It’s a cool little hotel in El Tunco with a pool and it was right on the beach. Beers we’re $1.25 and ice cold and they also served some lite food….perfect!

 It just so happened that two other bikers had pulled in a few minutes before me. Dave and Sparky are from Vancouver Island, Canada and are on their way to Panama and back on their BMW R1200GS’s.

We had a few beers and told lies from the road for a bit, but I wanted to swim in the ocean so I quickly striped off my riding gear and jumped in. The ocean was warm and the waves were perfect for swimming if not surfing, though the main break was farther up the beach. Oh, and it wasn’t too crowded…  😉

After that I adjourned to the pool and had a few more beers with Sparky and Dave. We had dinner that night along with some of the other surfer guests and had a great time swapping stories and adventures. After a short stumble back to me room, I crashed for the night.

Parting shot….an orignal artwork at the Tortuga Surf Lodge. I knew I liked this place…  🙂


Day 99 – Rio Dulce, GU to Acajutla, ES

Day 99 – Rio Dulce, GU to Acajutla, ES     11/28/10     Mileage: 129

Brian I were on the bikes by 9:30 for the run from Rio Dulce to the El Salvador border. We wanted to get there well before nightfall to leave ourselves plenty of time to do the notorious border paper shuffle. Despite a fair amount of rain, the ride to the border was uneventful and we were there by 1:30pm. The first step was to cancel our Guatemala import permits for the bikes, followed by getting ourselves stamped out of Guatemala by immigration.

The El Salvador border crossing.

It was all very straight forward and they even made copies of documents for the El Salvador side of the border for free without us even asking! That was a far cry from some of the horror stories I’ve read on ADV Rider (website). As we were crossing, a fellow started talking to us and “helping” to steer us in the right direction. Sometimes unsolicited help is good, and sometimes it’s not…and I couldn’t figure which bucket to put this guy in. He pointed us to the right office to start the El Salvador border process, yet wanted a copy of our canceled Guatemala bike import permit…which we were told he definitely did not need by the people in the office. We’ll never know in the end, because as soon as we had our El Salvador bike importation permits and stamps in our passports, we split. All in all, it took an hour and half of paperwork, but was easy and didn’t cost a dime. Bienvenudos a El Slavador…country number 6 on my trip so far! Even though it looked much like Guatemala, it felt in some ways different…it’s funny how a line on the map does that. Our goal was to reach the coastal town of Acajutla and perhaps find a decent hotel on the beach. The ride down to the coast was good and had a real nice twisty section that went on for 30 or so miles. We arrived in Acajutla around 5pm and it was kind of a shithole. Undeterred, we headed towards the beach in search of a hotel. We pulled into the first prospect which Brian went to look at while I watched the bikes. His face said it all when he came back, to which he added…”Call me old fashioned, but I do prefer a toilet seat on my toilet.” It was only $10, but a man has to have his standards. The next stop looked more promising, as it was 50% more expensive at $15 and the outside looked clean enough. It was getting dark and our expectations, while already very low by US standards, were minimal. It was just not meant to be however. We looked at the first room and it was a complete sespool…the sheets looked like they haven’t been changed…ever. The toilet, while fitted with a seat, wasn’t worthy of a stall in the men’s room at the old Veterans Stadium during an Eagles game just after halftime. This is quite a feat, given that the shower head (cold only of course) comes out of the ceiling directly above the toilet…yes folks…no shower stall…you have to straddle the toilet while showering. Then there is of course the floor, which defies explanation as to how a shower stall sized room with what is in effect an overhead sprinkler could accumulate such filth. Brian and I at least had a good laugh before we declined and opted to press on with the search in the dark. Fortunately, I remembered passing a hotel next to a truck repair shop a few miles back, so we pointed the bikes back to the highway. We arrived and although it was expensive ($31) for what it was, we were tired and there were quite literally no other options… So we took two rooms and called it a night.

PS: Sorry for the lack of pictures today! I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture of the hotel rooms…damn!

Day 98 – Rio Dulce, GU

Day 98 – Rio Dulce, GU     11/27/10     Mileage: 0

Today Brian and I booked a launch to the town of Livingston which is not accessible by road. It was quite expensive and took up most of the day, but it included a tour of the area as well and we heard it was worthwhile.

The first stop was an small old colonial era Spanish fort which was neat to see from the water just as the pirates for whom the fort was built to defend against would have seen it.

Some local fisherman in dugout canoes

Next we stopped to view some islands where many water birds were nesting, after which we came into a small cove where young girls in dugout canoes paddled up to our launch selling local crafts.

The crafts were OK, but the young girls were adorable. We docked at Livingston and took a walk down the main street.

Livingston, GU

There are manhole and sewer covers missing not just in Livingston, but all over Guatemala. Replacements seem to be in short supply, so in this case the locals stuck a phone booth in the manhole to keep people from falling in!

Both Brian and I were kind of unimpressed with the town honestly, but it was good for a stroll and lunch. It would have been fine were in not for the fact that it cost 200 quetzals and 3 hours to get there from Rio Dulce! So, after lunch it was back to the launch for the ride back which thankfully was a straight shot. After that it was a shower, dinner, some route planning and off to bed for an early night as tomorrow we had a long day planned which would take us to yet another country…El Salvador!

Day 97 – Flores, GU to Rio Dulce, GU

Day 97 – Flores, GU to Rio Dulce, GU     11/26/10     Mileage: 129

Today was a short day in the saddle from Flores and Brian and I were in Rio Dulce in just over 2 hours.

Cool Beans….my favorite morning coffee and wifi spot

One last shot of Flores, GU

The road surface was the best I’ve ridden in Guatemala and was quite literally the only riding day where my tires didn’t touch dirt. We also bumped into 2 more riders on KLR’s who were heading north towards Belize from Costa Rica. In Rio Dulce we parked ourselves at Bruno’s Hotel and Marina which caters mostly to glob trotting sailors.

The pool at Bruno’s Marina

Chillin at Bruno’s

What I didn’t realize is that Rio Dulce also has a large number of wealthy expat sailors (and power boaters) that live down here either part time or full time. There are hundreds of very large sailboats and yachts in the area, some moored in front of what I guess are second homes. There are also transient sailors as well as some that just come down to escape the winter up north. I definitely caught (or rekindled) a bit of the sailing bug. Maybe that will be the next endeavor!

The main street in Rio Dulce

The “shoe store” in Rio Dulce….it’s no Jimmy Choo boutique!

The Yamaha dealer in Rio Dulce.

“Brilliant Riding”….I’m not so sure given that the bike is only a 125cc!

The view from the bridge over the river

Sunset over Rio Dulce