Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Playa El Tunco, El Salvador

On my bucket list I have a list of countries I want to visit. It isn't a long list - but it is definitely a list. Also included is my dream to backpack through Central America. Once we started working in Mexico, Caitlin and I decided that it would be so easy to stay down there a little while after finishing our work and backpack for a few weeks. So we embarked on a month long backpacking trip where I not only accomplished that life goal, but also visited El Salvador, one of my bucket list countries. 

In El Salvador, we started our trip at the beach. Playa El Tunco is a surfers beach with black sand, millions of hermit crabs, and a rocky shoreline. We didn't really know what to expect, but we were ready to relax. Unfortunately, nearly the entire time we were there it was not the most relaxing weather. It was insanely hot, humid, and overcast a lot of the time. We talked to a lot of locals and they all said that this was the worst time of the year to be in El Salvador - but we enjoyed it nonetheless. 

We spent quite a bit of time walking along the shores by the beach. I swear, every time we were at the beach (no matter what time of day) it was always high tide, so there wasn't a lot of sand to walk on, but we made do with what we had. The black sand was so gorgeous, and the locals were hilarious to watch as they played in the water. The main reason I wanted to go to El Salvador was because on my mission, I met some incredible people that had migrated from El Salvador. Knowing them had given me the desire to explore their country. The people in El Salvador did not disappoint. In fact, they were so helpful that we didn't feel unsafe at any point during our visit, even if we saw more guns in their country than anywhere else in our lives. 

Next to El Tunco, there is a town called La Libertad (which was a little more sketchy according to our Lonely Planet book) that had some great walkways and restaurants that were fun to explore. I guess El Tunco is more of a tourist beach and La Libertad is more of a local tourist beach. There were hardly any gringos hanging around there while we explored the boardwalk. 

At El Tunco, one of my favorite things was sitting outside and watching the waves crash into a big rock in the water. I know it sounds so simple, but it is such a relaxing thing for me. Besides watching the waves crash we also spent quite a bit of time lounging around in the hammocks at our hostel. Why don't we use hammocks more in the states? We definitely need to start a hammock trend. 

On Sunday we went to church in La Libertad. The people at church were so happy to have us there. They had Caitlin say a prayer and asked me to lead the music. Salvadorians are so genuine and welcoming. We loved the branch we went to.
After church we decided to make some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (which was our normal lunch during our trip) but we didn't bring a knife with us on our first outing. So instead of using a knife to spread the peanut butter, we asked a restaurant for a straw (they only had metal knives) and we attempted to spread peanut butter with a straw. In case you can't see in the above picture, my hands were pretty much covered in sticky deliciousness. 
We also went into the fish market on the pier. There are so many different kinds of fish in El Salvador, and shrimp, crabs, and other crustaceans I have no idea how to identify. 
And of course, we ended nearly every day by watching the sunset on the beach and strolling along the black sand. 
The houses and buildings are built on the cliffs that overlook the beach, and a lot are even on the beach itself. A lot of them were closed off since it wasn't peak tourist season, but I admire how people in Latin America are able to build up on hills, cliffs, and sand with just cement and rebar. It is truly a spectacle that you must see. 

Now if there is one thing you must experience from El Salvador (besides the amazing people) are the pupusas. Seriously one of my favorite foods I've ever experienced. They are basically a stuffed and grilled/fried tortilla, but they are so much more than that. We found this cute pupuseria that we ate at every single night while at the beach. The family that owned it were so cute and loved that we came back every night. They didn't have a lot of tourists come to their shop since it was more of a local place, so they were thrilled to talk to us. Caitlin even asked them to teach her how to make pupusas. We are definitely going to experiment with these savory treats. 

Caitlin learning how to make pupusas.
And of course, no trip to a new country would be complete without experiencing the wildlife. This little guy snuck into our hostel and scared us pretty good. Luckily we are pretty good at fending off wild creatures and we were able to scoop him out of our room with a flip flop. 

We spent a total of 3 days at the beach in El Salvador. Next time we go, we plan on going further south and experiencing a few more beaches. And we probably wouldn't go at the end of April again, since it was so darn hot we couldn't stand it. But the people and food make up for the insane heat and we would definitely go again.

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