Archive for the ‘El Salvador’ Category

The AmericasI have travelled the length and bredth of the Americas since I started this trip back in December, but the time has come for me to move on.

It also means that I will no longer need to keep butchering the Spanish language that I have learned to some degree as I have moved south from the USA.

There have certainly been plenty of highs as well as a few lows to keep me grounded on the road, but as ever it is time to move on because the planet has so many more waves on offer for me to enjoy along the rest of this trip.

Las OlasRather fittingly I saw this road sign next to the pizza place on my last night in Chile.

It translates to The Waves, which is an odd name for a road if you ask me, but the sign was pointing westward towards the east and that is exactly where I am going.

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Semi Final

There is the obvious language connection with Spain, but even so I have been staggered but the extent of the support for the two giants playing in La Liga.

On my way south through Central America I have seen buses, taxis, cars and even newsagents dedicated to either Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Football CrowdThe shirts of the two teams are on view throughout the continent. It is only really in Panama I have seen a significant number of other shirts (for the national side) being worn at all.

I took this picture of one of the many crowds that were forming around each television in the shopping mall during one of the recent Champions League semi fainals against the two German teams.

Messi & RonaldoWith both Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich putting four goals past their respective opposition during the recent games the collective disdain was palpable.

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Chicken Bus 1I am amazed that there are any school buses left in the USA!

All though Central America they are the standard form of transport, and are known as Chicken buses because you often will see a crate of the feathered birds strapped precariously to the roof.

I saw one such crate fall off one in Nicaragua only to be immediately blitzed by the pickup truck between me and it in an explosion of feathers.

Antigua-chicken-busThey are usually decorated in riotous colours although not so much the further south I have travelled.

This one I saw in Guatemala, where they are driven by maniacs who are only interested in doing their standard route as many times as they can during a day. I struggled to pull away from one on the Pan American highway, eventually giving up because of his driving right up the back of me doing about 85mph down a twisting mountain descent!

Batman BusFor some reason the three most common themes for decorating the buses throughout the continent are Batman, The Transformers and messages praising Jesus or God. I have no idea why that may be.

I have not used one yet, but have previously ridden something similar in China where they also cram an additional 20 people on just when you think it couldn’t possibly hold anything or anybody else.

I don’t know much about their safety record but suspect it is not that good!

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William WalkerSince being in Central America I have been reading quite a lot about William Walker who seems to have lived quite an extraordinary life. Marlon Brando portrayed him in the 1969 film ‘Burn!’ which I have not seen

The rest I have lifted from Wikipedia because I have too much writing to do, but I would recommend you take the time to read about him.

(May 8, 1824 – September 12, 1860) who was an American doctor, lawyer, journalist and adventurer, who organized several private military expeditions into Latin America, with the intention of establishing English-speaking colonies under his personal control, an enterprise then known as “filibustering.”

Walker became president of the Republic of Nicaragua in 1856 and ruled until 1857, when he was defeated by a coalition of Central American armies, principally Costa Rica’s army. He was executed by the government of Honduras in 1860.

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Honduran Nicaraguan Boder 1I have been without internet for a few days so have some catching up to do.

I had a quick surf session at Las Flores before leaving, including a scary wipeout near the rocks, but was still on the road early. The road from El Salvador to Honduras was quick but unbelievably hot. It is ok when the car is moving but as soon as I stop I feel like I am melting. At one stage the thermometer in the car read 49C ! It didn’t drop below 40C all day and even then only once it had got dark. It was still over 30C at 10pm.

Both the borders I crosses were at bridges over rivers and there seems to be a substantial space of no man’s land at each one. This doesn’t help me much because at every border I am driving around looking like a lost soul trying to figure out which one of the shacks, if any, at a given place is an official building such as migration, aduona, the place where you get the car sprayed for some pesticide or other or just a checkpoint where they inspect paperwork before you are allowed to move on to the next bit of guesswork.

Honduras Police PatchApart from the usual hawkers, searching for a photocopier, etc it is relatively painless at both borders apart from the heat. However I did fall foul of the law upon arrival in Nicaragua, but before going further on this I have a confession to make. I have been having a few cigarettes ever since I was able to drink smoke and gamble in Las Vegas. I know it is bad for me but it has been alleviating some of the boredom on the road, and I was enjoying a smoke upon successfully navigating the the El Salvador-Honduran border. At the final checkpoint a traffic policeman waved me in to the side of the road which I did without question. At this point he tells me that smoking is illegal in a car, which is clearly bullshit, and he is just trying to exact a bribe. I am quite hot and bothered already and not in the mood so play him at his own game feigning terror and asking if it is a serious offence and then if we must go to the police station all the while blowing smoke in his face whilst still behind the wheel. He laps this up thinking he has me on the hook, that is until in perfect Spanish I say ok if you drive there I will follow. Mild panic spreads across his face and he pauses afor a moment before deciding that it is not in fact an offence and tells me I can go. I do so grinning from ear to ear and chuffing away as I pull off.

Not much else to report apart from telling you that the road I travelled in Honduras resembled Swiss cheese because there were so many holes in it.

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DCIM100GOPROThat the sun does indeed shine…

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Las FloresLas Flores is another fantastic right hand point break. However for me at least there is definitely a but to this particular break.

That but is the rocks which are just a handful of metres from the peak and then stay that way for the whole of the ride to the shore, which can be as long as 300m. One fall and you could be in a very bad place very quickly.

DCIM102GOPRO

The international crew in the water here are certainly friendly enough though, and amongst others I spend a great deal of time chatting with the lovely Whitney who you can see behind me.

However if I am honest for the whole of the time I am in the water here I am not feeling that comfortable.

DCIM100GOPROA good wave would usually sort out any nerves I have. However the set up of this break is such that in order to be sure of being the person that catches a wave you need to be paddling for it directly adjacent to the rocks sticking up out of the water at the very tip of the headland which you can see over my shoulder. Everybody knows this and the result of that is everybody pushing one another closer and closer to the rocks until people take off directly in front of them assuming they will make the turn. The natural breaking of the wave does indeed keep you far enough away from the rocks once you are riding, but such critical take offs are not really my cup of tea anymore. I have been to A&E too many times, and it is never fun!

DCIM103GOPRODespite my better judgement I tried this once only to have picked one of the bigger waves of the day which then broke well before it got to me leaving me very much between a rock and a hard place, and was then lucky not to damage myself let alone my board. (One of the Brazilians here did something similar and landed on the rocks and put a two foot long gash in the base of his board ‘game over’-ing it earlier in the day!)

Regardless of all the above I have caught loads of long rides here though and this one shows the trees on the point a little too close for comfort behind me. This particular ride was about head high, but during it I also had to charge through a gap between two rocks which appeared sticking out of the water that was little wider than my board and just hope it was deep enough in the gap for my fins to get through. It was but more by luck than judgement and I dont think I will be doing that again.

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Mango TreeSo far I have managed to avoid an Isaac Newton moment with a fruit landing on my head.

However there are so many mango trees around which seem to shed their fruit at the slightest breeze, I fear it is only a question of time before I am wearing one.

The Litle Green Surf Machine has already been involved in a drive-by fruiting or two and has been left showing the fruit splats from its time in combat!

Fresh MangoThis no normal fruit, it is an aggressive predator.

You have been warned!

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Atlakamani 2

After leaving El Sunzal I had a very hot but scenically stunning drive eastwards towards the town of El Cuco where I am basing myself for a few days.

I arrived in the afternoon and got myself a great room at the Atlakamani Resort  (www.Atlakamani.com) run by a local guy who unusually for this neck of the woods is called Vladimir.

Atlakamani 1It is perfectly set up for surfers and is 60 seconds from a world class point break.

The rooms have air conditioning which is a welcome relief. The wifi is quick and the restaurant is brilliant. There is even an in house masseur called Anna whose services I treated myself to upon arrival.

At the moment it is just me and a cool group of surfers from Brazil who I have been having a laugh with.

ToastersMost important of all, they have toasters here! Me turning my nose up at the lovely free breakfast which is available, instead gorging myself on toast and the marmite that I have been carrying since Los Angeles raises a few eyebrows but I don’t care

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Punta Roca 5Punta Roca is where the point break sequences for Big Wednesday were filmed and I simply had to surf the break where such great lines as ‘I said he aint a hodad squidlips, this is Matt Johnson and he needs to borrow your board’ and ‘That is Matt Johnson, THAT IS Matt Johnson!’ were coined. If you are not familiar with the film, it will make more sense if you watch this clip. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xgBnGQhAUI

Punta Roca 1

It is a perfect right hand point break and the scenes from the  movie have had me salivating for years, dreaming about such a perfect setup to enjoy. Without doubt a major contributory factor in me taking this trip. The area is somewhat more developed than when the scenes were filmed in 1976, and I was able to stike a deal with a restaurant overlooking the break that they would look after my car and I would enjoy a big feast after my session. 

DCIM100GOPRO

I have been wanting to try to get some forward facing shots on the camera for a while, and because this wave is so predictable I thought it would be the ideal opportunity to try it out.

I attached it to the board the other way around which is just as easy using the mounts I have attached to my stick and paddled out into the glorious conditions you see here.DCIM100GOPRO

I was able to get some fantastic pictures of other people, but not the shot I wanted of the wave walling up in front of me as I charged down the line, which all surfers would recognise instantly. I think this is because the mount on my board is pointing directly forward and the board usually travels in the direction which is 45 degrees from the wave face, which results in a lot of shots of air pointing vaguely in the direction of the shore.

This meant that each of the peachy waves I had here, and it was a lot, will just be memories for me I’m afraid. The waves is so mellow and just goes on and on and on and on and on. Really chuffed to have bagged this break on my travels and even if I cant prove it I know I was grinning from ear to ear!

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