I spent the rest of the afternoon at Rafa’s place, wondering what to do with myself now, where to go, why to go there and got myself from feeling simply helpless and lost into a really shitty mood. Luckily what had become the worst day of my journey so far, soon turned better when I learned that Sara and some friends of hers were having beers at a bar: Just the thing I needed in that moment! I caught up quickly with the girls and found myself, once again, in a highly intellectual and international group of spanish, french and esalvadoreñian development cooperation workers. I had an extremely interesting night and with work stories from the spanish embassy, the United Nations, the AECID and many places more, the girls almost made me forget about my unlucky day. When I finally got my Zzzzzs it was about 3 in the morning.
The next day I decided to do something I had never done so far in my two months of traveling: Go back to a place I had already visited. The girls rang me the next day and told me they were going to El Tunco to spend the weekend there. To me surfing, nature, a little party and a nearby beach seemed like a good way to distract myself and to pull myself out of my blue state of mind. What I didn’t know yet is that were not only waves, hammocks and sunshine waiting for me but also a charming girl that would change my entire traveling and a lot more… I had already met her the last time I had been to El Tunco but apart from a nice flirt on the beach there had not been much contact between the two of us. This time though things were to be different and when I saw her again at a concert I attended this night we quickly got into a deep conversation. I think I can say there was mutual attraction right away and we ended up spending our entire time together at El Tunco. it was… well… simply magic!
What can I tell you about Johanna? She is finnish, 25, blond, highly attractive but has lots more for me to tout on about then only her looks. She is charming, fun, charismatic, intelligent and also simply a great travel companion because she’s easy to handle and straight-forward. She’s traveling with a also finnish friend of hers, Riikka who is a really cool girl also. I learned to know Riikka the day after Johanna and the constellation Johanna-Benno-Riikka seemed to be working good enough that I and Johanna proposed to travel a little together. None of us could at that time imagine going on without each other, we just wanted to see how things went from there and spend as much time as possible together. Riikka had no problem with me joining their girl group and so we took off from El Tunco on Thursday.
Our next stop was Isla Pirraya, a charming and almost-deserted Island on El Salvador’s southernmost Kays where indigenous settlements, virgin beaches and stunningly beautiful nature were awaiting us. We were lucky enough to get a ride from Mattheo and David, a canadian pair of Dad and Son who had borrowed an old, rusty minivan, and who were heading south just as we were. After three hours of riding along the beautiful Elsalvadoreñan highlands we arrived at Puerto Parada (south of Puerto Triunfo close Usulután) where we said goodbye to our canadian chauffeurs and got onto one of the boats which would bring us to Isla Pirraya (1,30$). When we arrived at the picturesque Isla Pirraya it was almost dark already and we only found time to install us in the one and only (nameless) hostel/restaurant and go for a quick walk along the beach before the sun started setting. It really was not until the next day when we should discover what a great place we had found ourselves: Pirraya is one of the roughly 8 Islands that form the Bahia de Jiquilisco. Only one of the 8 islands is inhabited, the other ones are nothing but untouched nature and home to countless pelicans living in sheer endless kilometers of mangrove forests.
We spent three days and two nights together at Isly Pirraya and had a fantastic time together! One day we would rent a little boat with a skipper and a powerful outboard engine (for 25US$!) and went to hike, waterski and see all the small islands that there are in the gulf. Hard to put the beauty of nature there in words, please see the pictures.
After our three days on Isly Pirraya (it was the morning of the 6th of December) we took off early with the intention of making our way as far south as possible, possibly until one of the famous spaniard cities, León or Granada in Nicaragua and therefore crossing right through Honduras. Skipping Honduras was not an easy decision and I still feel kind of bad about it but the girls had already seen Honduras and did not want to return to the same place. Also, they had also not liked the country particularly and I needed to speed up my traveling pace a little…
After a quick boat ride from our beautiful island back to Puerto Parada, we took a bus to San Miguel where we had to change to another bus that then took us to Amatillo, on of El Salvador’s boarders with Honduras. While the two girls passed without any problem through the first passport control there turned out to be a problem when it came to me: Boarder police told me that I have never been registered in the country and that to them I could as well be an illegal immigrant. What had obviously happened was that the service personal of the night bus from Guatemala City to San Salvador had forgotten me when checking in the passengers at the boarder. I had to wait 30 minutes until the friendly boarder police had confirmed with the bus company that I had indeed bought a ticket from Guatemala to El Salvador and entered the country with one of their busses. Good thing I ONCE had travelled with an expensive bus company that actually has something like a computer system that registers all passengers and even offers a service phones!! I don’t have to tell you that such a thing is the extreme, extreme exception in Central America, not to speak of the exception such an luxury transportation makes in my traveling diary!
If it had not been for the fact that this way I could prove how I had entered the country, I guess I would have had to spend a night in jail at the boarder station or maybe even gone through worse things…
After all confusion had been cleared and I had successfully checked out of San Salvador we had to cross over to the other side of the boarder by foot. The 10 km walk from one boarder patrol station to the other led us over a bridge which one has to pass by foot. It was already dark so we decided to not take any risks and rented one of the many tricycle rickshas awaiting passengers at both boarder stations. A pretty useless decision in retrospective – it’s only a 2 minute’s ride over the bridge but both boarder police and ricksha drivers had successfully talked us into doing so, telling us that these few kilometers of no man’s land is a dangerous stip to cross at nighttime. It was when we had just checked into Honduras and payed our Mafioso trickle chauffeur 10 USD (still hurts me when I think about it!!) when I suddenly heard something peeping on the ground. At a second, close look it turned out to be a tiny, fresh-born cat on the cold cement floor that must have been abandoned by his mother. The girls (and I) immediately fell in love with the tiny shivering and squeaking creature that would not even cover the entire palm of my hand when I picked it up. We decided to name it Honduras and take it with us to the next city where we would give it to a veterinarian or someone with a good heart that could maybe save his life.
Once we had entirely crossed the boarder we had to find out that the last bus to León had just left and had to take a expeeeensive minibus shuttle which brought us in yet another exhausting 3 hour ride to León. It was late night already, the ride was bumpy, streets were horrible. The girl were tired and in a bad mood, I was hungry and stressed out, Honduras was squeaking and shivering – shortly it was all pretty horrible. When we finally got to León around three o’clock in the night the nightmare was not over yet: All places to stay were full (what we didn’t know was that there was a big celebration coming up) and it took us more then half an hour of taxi riding to all the hostels and hotels until we had found a place that could offer us three free beds.
Needless to say we fell into bed like a pair of stones but fair enough: In one day we had taken three busses, one ricksha, two minivans, one boat and one taxi, picked up a dying cat, crossed through three countries an travelled for over 16 hours…