Thursday, July 15, 2010

Crazy day traveling to La Palma, El Salvador

Thursday Jul 22, 2010

Caught the chicken bus (retired yellow US school bus with over 400,000 miles) to save a little money. The 2.5 hr bus ride to La Entrada to catch the connecting bus was only $2.50. That comes with its own price of stopping to pickup everyone walking down the road and stops for no apparent reason. The exciting part came when we got to the top of the mountain. It is as though the brakes on the bus no longer worked. We were going 50 mph down the mountain with hairpin curves at every corner. Not much scares me anymore but I was starting to get a little concerned because earlier the brakes did not sound like they were in good shape. I looked around to see if anyone else was concerned including the 5 or so children on the bus. No worries, everyone seemed to be going on with their routines. I decided to embrace it rather than panic and enjoyed the rest of the ride. Disneyland or Six Flags had nothing on this bus ride.

 Next I changed buses in La Entrada for the rest of the ride to the  border. The bus would almost be considered 1st Class (it wasn't) and had a bathroom. The 4.5 hr ride would have been fine if not for the Best of the 80's tape that he was playing over and over. To make it worse he had about 4 songs that he was seriously attached to. After a while it was like Chinese Water Torture. At the end of one song you could just sense what song was going to play next and no matter how much you wished for it to be a new song, it wasn't. Finally made it to the border.

A little confusion over if I had paid my tourist fee earlier and finally made it across the border just in time to have missed the last bus to La Palma (8 miles away). As I am walking towards La Palma trying to decide whether to walk it or find a dive to stay in, a tuk tuk (3 wheel motor taxi) pulls up and says he will take me to La Palma for $6. Thought about it and realized dark would soon be approaching and agreed.

However, things did end on a positive note. Stopped at a really nice hotel which looked too expensive just to check prices and she said a private room with hot water and bathroom was $15 a night. Beautiful place with free wi-fi , a pool and restaurant. I told her that the price sounded okay but I would have to check a few other places. As I was walking away the owner spoke to her in Spanish and she said she had been mistaken that the rooms were only $10 a night. Quickly dropped my bags and signed in. The restaurant is pricey and I only eat there on every now and then, with my $5 daily savings. 

As I posted on facebook, currency can  be confusing when changing  countries often. (colones in Costa Rica, quetzales in Guatemala, pesos in Mexico, Belizean Dollars in Belize, lempiras in Honduras, and now American Dollars in El Salvador). No kidding, its their official currency. Go figure.     

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