El Salvador is sweaty.
Yesterday afternoon I hopped off the plane, hopped into a taxi and pointed him in the direction of a popular beachtown hostel I picked out of my guidebook. The driver spoke no English. I speak almost no Spanish. Here are highlights from the conversation we had during our 45 minute drive through the jungle; “Do you like soccer?” “Yes, I like soccer.” “Nice.” “Yes.” “Do you have a gun?” “No.” “My friend said everybody here has guns.” “I don’t have a gun.” “Can I have a gun?” “You need a permit.” “Oh.” “Can I have a permit?” “No.”
Playa El Tunco is basically a bunch of hostels and outdoor restaurants along a private road gated off from the main road. I chose a hostel called Papayas but I’m pretty sure they’re all pretty much the same. I paid extra for a room of my own. I’m on a budget but not a ‘share my room with strangers’ budget. Today I upgraded to a room of my own with air conditioning.
This beach town is just like every backpacker hotspot I’ve ever visited. I’ve definitely been here before – in Turkey, Egypt, Mexico, Thailand… Henna tattoos, Bob Marley, shirtless white dudes with dreds, that chick with the hula hoop, packs of skinny dogs in the streets, tons of Australians and cheap beer. Who travels with a hula hoop? El Tunco stands out in the sheer number of white dudes (from all over the white world) traveling around in twos or threes… Usually the ratio is closer to even. Hula chick is ruling the roost.
The beach here is lovely. Great waves. Fine volcanic black sand. Today, I rented a huge foam surfboard today and tried surfing. One hour of furious paddling got me onto two waves… sort of.
A dude named Zeus (white, dreds) welcomed me when I arrived and told me he’s been here on and off for the last five years. He thinks I’m going to follow the same path. Probably not, Zeus.
I figure I have two options from here:
1. Head up to San Salvador and check out the main city for a day or two before heading down to Nicaragua. The argument for this being that I really should check out more of El Salvador before I leave. There’s so much history!
2. Catch a minibus from here directly to Leon, Nicaragua and skip San Salvador. I only have a month to visit five countries. Why not spend most of that time climbing volcanoes and then climbing other volcanoes?