The day after our huge climb to Ataco we cycled up to desolate Apaneca, then woosh! a great downhill between volcanoes to ever so pretty Juayúa. To be honest we were reluctant to give back some of our height gain so soon, but Monday morning had a definite party over atmosphere: in Apaneca a drunk lay sleeping in the square, his penis hanging out! These high altitude remote villages do not cope with an influx of weekend Salvadorans from the city!
Do we head for the coast or continue north inland? Both began with a climb, but then a huge decent. I am frustrated by indecision and missing home, but pictures of Santa Ana crater swings it, and we head north. Serendipity. We meet two cyclists heading south with interesting bikes (no panniers) and route suggestions, and while we are chatting Michael arrives (!) to recommend his crappy Wal-Mart $70 bike – it’s junk, but he beats us to the hostel!! Every blog, even the cyclists on the road, describe an incredible hostel in town, and truly, it exceeds all expectations. Spotless, cheap, friendly, pool and free coffee (not Nescafe, but Salvadoran beans – from the fridge Irwin!) and an honesty board by the beer and chocolate fridge! In corrupt El Salvador, Casa Verde is an oasis of calm. Recently we have been staying off the beaten track so it is a joy to speak to fellow travellers, and witty Mike of course.
But I’m saving the best! There are two super stocked kitchens with super sharp knives!! and spices and herbs (and the biggest basil plant I’ve ever seen). Way better than our kitchen at home (I know James, hardly difficult). I can cook! I buy piles of vegetables and we feast on fabulous (not fried) food!
Santa Ana volcano is mostly accessible by road. We join about 30 people to climb up from 1750m to 2300m in glorious sunshine, a once per day event supervised by a guide and armed guard! Bizarrely, we descend with the two super tall Dutch girls from our hostel, a Honduran coffee farmer and his noisy family who befriend me (instead of the other way round!) and the armed guard. I learn about coffee, corrupt elections and the curfew, and I sing along with the guard, he is so delighted, – George Michael’s ‘Careless Whisper’ on his phone. You couldn’t make it up.
We have been listening to recent experiences in Honduras: a Guatemalan divorcée visiting his young daughters who was rescued by a stranger. She guided his car into her lock up then barricaded themselves into her home overnight as riots raged outside. Backpackers isolated (but safe) in hostels and hotels waiting for safe transportation. Seven hour waits at the border, only to be turned back. We always planned to avoid the southern coastal section of Honduras that lies between El Salvador and Nicaragua by taking a private launch across the bay, but now the twice weekly boat is fully booked. Perhaps by the time we reach the border it will all calm down….. I love how UK FCO daily updates their website, it’s precise and clear:
“The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all but essential travel to Honduras, with the exception of the Bay Islands (Roatán, Utila and Guanaja).
Honduras held nationwide elections on 26 November 2017. Political tensions are high and there have been reports of violent protests, looting and disruption to travel, including road blockades. You should avoid all political demonstrations and monitor local news channels for the latest information.
On 1 December 2017, the government declared a 10-day curfew. This has now been lifted in most cities in Honduras”
Meanwhile in Mexico… “Homicides have more than doubled in Baja California Sur this year, with 409 people killed through October, from 192 in all of 2016”. The Guardian. Two years ago we were there, and I think of the British couple we stayed with through Airbnb.
And who ate all the cake? (8”round) and the coconut mousse cake, and the biscuits, Charles of course! In 24 hours!!!