Monday, November 24, 2008

50 Days on the Road

There is a first for everything: Thursday, I drove away from a police stop. Just after entering Honduras, two officers stopped us and demanded to see our vehicle permit. When they made up some traffic violation we hadn’t committed and demanded a bribe to not issue us a citation, I left them in the dust; they didn’t pursue. This was the first time that happened to us in 10,000 km (~6000 miles), and like the border crossing from Mexico to Guatemala, we’ll take the time to detail these negative experiences after our trip.
Tuesday morning, we left Santa Ana, El Salvador, and Mario Alvarez’ hospitality and headed south to the beaches of El Salvador. We quickly realized that beach access in El Salvador is completely in private hands (hotels, restaurants, beach homes for example); you can’t just drive to the beach somewhere and camp.
We checked out a few hotels at Playa de Cuco, but didn’t like what we saw there; we were told later that we should have searched a little farther from the village itself. We went on toward Playa Tamarindo, and ended up finding a nice camp site at what was advertised as a parking lot at Playa Negra (past Playa la Tuna and before Playa Blanca). The place is called Rancho Villalta and it has grandpa Juan and grandson Luis living on-site. It’s a fenced-in palm grove with a central building housing a bathroom with shower, and it has easy beach access.
The Rancho displays a “se alquila parqueo” sign, and we can recommend this spot as a very tranquil camping site; it reportedly does get busy on weekends. Otherwise, the area obviously does not get visited much by international travelers, and you should make sure you’re stocked up if you’re planning to stay.
We spent two nights at the Rancho before heading to the infamous border crossing (El Salvador/Honduras) at El Amatillo, which lives up to and deserves the nasty reputation it has among travelers. That’s another story we’ll tell after our trip.
For now, we’re in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, where Emilio Canahuati welcomed us warmly. Instead of being tourists, we opted to “camp” right at his office, which is very secure and has WiFi Internet access for Skype phone calls and blog maintenance. We’ll move soon to the air force base, where we’ll spend the weekend with the pilots of Club de Aeromodelismo de Honduras.
Turns out this air force base has a good slope just down-wind from the model airplane field, which in turn has a beautiful paved runway with lots of grass around it. Of course, I liked the slope best; it even has an easy grassy landing zone at the top right behind the windsock.
Emilio and his two eldest children camped with us Friday night up at the slope, but Saturday we moved to the field below where other members of the club joined us for an evening barbecue and campfire. Sunday, we all flew quite a bit, then said good bye to the friendly club members, and moved back to Emilio’s office to complete and publish this post. Monday, we’re off toward Nicaragua, which we will cross fairly quickly in hopes of reaching Costa Rica Wednesday or Thursday.

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