Searching for and Finding the Three S’s in El Salvador

Sun? Check.  Sand? Check.  Surf? Check.   Playa El Zonte in El Salvador had it all.  It was just what we were looking for after being inland and working our brains in Spanish classes for three weeks.

We left Antigua nice and early in hopes that we be able to cross the border smoothly and get to our first stop in El Salvador with plenty of time to set up camp.  When we pulled up to the border we were ready with copies and instructions in hand. After a few minor issues with vehicle registration and 30 min lunch breaks we were back on the road.  Let me tell you, it was awesome having Sarah and Nate with us at this crossing.  The guys were able to stay at the cars with the dogs while Sarah and I ran around getting things stamped and copied.  We’re a great team. J

We're in El Salvador!

We’re in El Salvador!

The border crossing ran a little longer than we had planned so after a brief side of the road discussion we decided to stay one or two nights at Parque El Impossible.  We stocked up on groceries and made a left onto the dirt road.

Following Nate and Sarah into El Impossible

Following Nate and Sarah into El Impossible

The dirt road ran through a bunch of little towns, while we were driving it was obvious that the kids in town had just gotten out of class.  Its amazing, the kids have to walk up this huge dirt road to get home from class and the 4runner can barely make it up.  As we would pass the kids would all wave and say the only English words that they knew, which was usually “bye”.  45 minutes and a lot of dust later we were pulling up to the gates.  The first thing that Sarah noticed was the sign that showed a picture of a dog with a cross through it.  The guard at the gate noticed both Brady and Reina but thankfully chose to ignore the “no dogs allowed” rule.

We got settled in at our campsites and climbed the high lookout tower for some gorgeous views.  Parque El Impossible is a beautiful forest full of wildlife in Northern El Salvador.  The next day we woke up early for a guided hike through the forest to a swimming hole.  Unfortunately the dogs weren’t able to come which was a bummer because they really needed the workout after being tied up for the past month.

View of our camp from the Lookout tower

View of our camp from the Lookout tower

The park is very beautiful. Its a forest but also kinda jungley, with big viney trees and ferns.  First we hiked through the forest to a look out point that gave us a view of the entire park. Then we hiked all the way down into a fresh water hole that we were able to take a dip in.  The water was so cold that I was only able to stay in for a minute. The hike felt really good after being lazy in Guatemala for three weeks.

Jamie, Nate and Sarah on the hike

Jamie, Nate and Sarah on the hike

The swimming hole at the end

The swimming hole at the end

The two nights we spent in El Impossible were awesome but we were still itching for the coast, so once again we hit the road early in search of our three favorite S’s.

Jamie and I had gotten word of a place on the coast where you can camp right on the beach for super cheap.  After stopping for a nice lunch on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific we turned down a nice paved road in search of the mystical Don Raul.  When we reached a dead end we decided to get out and search for the Don on foot.  After searching for a few minutes, we walked up to a hammock holding a little old white haired, shirtless man wearing reading glasses, and asked if he knew Don Raul.  The little man beamed back at us, blinding us with his pearly whites and answered that he was, in fact, Don Raul and that he would be very happy if we stayed with him.

Jamie checking out the waves in El Zonte

Jamie checking out the waves in El Zonte

Oh man did we score on this place.  Don Raul’s palapa is situated right on the surf break and there was only enough room to fit both cars under the palapa.  We pulled in and got right to work setting up camp.

Camp at Don Raul's

Camp at Don Raul’s

Boys heading out for a sesh

Boys heading out for a sesh

Sunrise in El Zonte

Sunrise in El Zonte

We had only planned on staying for a couple nights but after checking out the neighboring towns we knew that we weren’t going to find anything better. The week was spent lazing in the shade, surfing, sun bathing, and we even got a few workouts in.  About every other day we would go into La Libertad, the closest town with a grocery store, and stock up.  We made some amazing meals with fresh fish and fruits and veggies.  We even shared a couple meals with Don Raul.  This place was magical. By the end of the week we knew that we had to move on but were worried that we wouldn’t be able to find anything better.  We know, that the only way that you ever find a spot like Don Raul’s is by leaving the place you’re at and searching, so we begrudgingly packed up and moved on.

Our next stop in El Salvador was Las Flores.  Jamie had noted this place on his surf wish list and it sounded pretty good to the rest of us.  Pulling into the camp spot in Las Flores was pretty fun.  First you have to go down a steep loose dirt hill before crossing an arroyo with super deep soft sand and finally pulling into the lot while dodging chickens, giant turkeys and falling coconuts.  After the obstacle coarse we decided that we wanted to camp under the palapas right on the beach so Jamie got to do it all over again, minus the big hill.

The beach at Las Flores

The beach at Las Flores

Jamie catchin a beautiful wave in Las Flores. Photo courtesy of our new friends Stephanie and Alex. Thanks guys!

Jamie catchin a beautiful wave in Las Flores. Photo courtesy of our new friends Stephanie and Alex. Thanks guys!

We spent 5 days in Las Flores perfecting our surfing skills and meeting an awesome couple from San Francisco that were staying in the all inclusive resort right next door.   Stephanie and Alex totally hooked it up for us. Not only did they give us the Internet password for the hotel, but they also talked the guys into letting Sarah and me hang out on the lounge chairs AND use the shower.   Then, just when we thought they couldn’t get any cooler ,they brought over a bunch of stuff that they said they wouldn’t be needing anymore, including a pair of brand new Rainbows for Jamie. I know, coolest couple ever.

Our sweet swag from Stephanie and Alex

Our sweet swag from Stephanie and Alex

Up next Nicaragua, but first we have to cross the dreaded Honduras borders. Duh, duh, duuuhhhhh.

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