Hostile Waters! El Salvador
I haven’t updated in about two weeks so I will try to be succinct about my adventures! We ended up staying in Popoyo for another 10 days because the surf was so prime. A solid swell rolled in and we had about 8 days straight of 5-7ft waves. The offshore winds were kicking the whole time so the waves were epic. Chris and I surfed 3 times a day every day we were there. We both got some pretty gnarly surf rash on our bellies from the abuse and the sand that upwells from the shallow bottom and gets stuck between your stomach and board. We met two Frenchies named Sophia and Julien who were staying at our Popoyo Loco Hostel. They had a super tiny Toyota Alto car that we would cram into. We went to Lance’s Left a few more times and scored big there one of the days. Some of the longest waves I’ve ever surfed in my life. We also did another boat trip out to Manzanillo but it wasn’t really happening out there. We still scored some great lefts when the big sets would roll through.
|Hiking out to the break - "what a beaut"|
The one afternoon we were surfing Popoyo it was more crowded than usual. I was having one of my best sessions yet. Chris and I were trading waves when an Argentinian guys who I later found out has been living there for a couple years paddled up to me. He started yelling in Spanish and from what I understood he was saying that I was getting too many waves and needed to be tranquillo. His buddy paddled over too and said “go home”. I definitely didn’t paddle in because I had been surfing three times a day there for almost three weeks and had never seen either of these guys and they weren’t local Nicaraguans. I was getting a bunch of waves but I wasn’t being overly aggressive in the lineup. I found out later that he didn’t realize that Chris and I were twins and thus thought we were scoring twice as many waves as anybody else. He was a close friend of our hostel owner so we were able to apologize and make amends. It was a really weird situation because I was minding my own business when all the sudden I was being yelled at for getting “too many waves”. Oh the joys of having a twin!
After about 10 days in Popoyo we were ready for a change of pace. We left Popoyo and went back to San Juan del Sur to figure out our next step. Luck was on our side! When we got to San Juan del Sur we found out that the crazy “party” hostel called the Naked Tiger was having their one year anniversary party. We had been hearing rumors about this party for the past two weeks even out in remote Popoyo. From what I gathered, The Naked Tiger was acquired by a young 23 year old American guy from his parents. Basically, he lets everybody do anything they want up there (write on the walls of the beautiful mansion) so we knew the party was going to be silly silly. When we got there around 1030 the place was packed with about 400-500 travelers dancing in the pool and all over the property. It was definitely the best party I’ve ever been to hands down. It was a great change of pace from almost too tranquillo Popoyo.
The next day in Popoyo we made plans to head further north to El Salvador. The direct bus options from Managua (capital of Nicaragua) to El Salvador were tricky. We had been hearing horror stories about traveling into Managua, especially at night. The direct bus left at 5am and you needed to be there an hour early to store bags and get tickets so we were looking at getting in around 4am, not a good time for two blonde American guys that don’t exactly fit in. San Juan del Sur is about two hours south of Managua. The first cab we tried to organize refused to go into Managua at the time of night, that’s when we knew it was going to be a little hairy. We made friends with the young local guy running our hostel and his girlfriend’s dad operated a cab. We left at 2am with both of them and we got to the bus station a little before it opened at 4am so they hung out with us in the cab until it opened. Driving into Managua was worse than what I imagined. Imagine a poorer and sketchier version of Tijuana if that’s possible. Not even bars on the windows, no windows or glass on anything! Everything was covered in metal plates. It looked like a post-apocalyptic city. The bus station itself was really nice and safe and had security.
|Chris is so fuerte!|
We bought directs to El Salvador and watched the sun come up as we left the city. We had to cross two borders to get to El Salvador. The Nicaragua-Honduras border was easy. The drive through Honduras was really beautiful. Nicaragua was really drive and barren while Honduras was more tropical. The Honduras-El Salvador border was a little more established. They ran German Sheppard’s through the bus and everybody was armed to the hilt. Once we crossed into El Salvador the scenery was amazing. They had just received a bunch of heavy rains and the hills and mountains were very green and tropical! We got off the bus in San Benido which is just south of the capital, San Salvador which we heard is a little more dangerous. We were up for a little adventure and opted out of taking a cab to the surf town called El Tunco. We met a guy on the bus who drew a little map of how to walk to the bus stop which goes to El Tunco. Talk about getting stared at! Walking downtown during San Benido rush hour with a surf bag gets some attention, and being Gringo! We found the bus station pretty easy but we were having a hard time hailing the #102 El Tunco bus. We figured out that because the busses were so packed, or would be packed after a few more stops didn’t want us to have surf bags. Also, the bus system was so hectic at this time that they would barely even slow down to pick people up, you had to walk into the lane when it stopped at the light to rush onto the bus. We stashed/hid the board bag under the bench and hailed the 4th #102 bus that had passed us. It slowed down and I hopped on and it started to drive away without Chris. I yelled at the bus driver and he slowed down again had Chris pulled the bag from under the bench and basically threw it onto the bus to me as the driver yelled at us and started to drive away. Chris jumped on and 60 cents later we were on our way to El Tunco, “The Land of Glassy Nuggets”! After a few stops the bus was standing room only and we were the only non-locals on the bus yet again. It was dark by this time and the bus stopped in La Libertad which we heard was sketchy at night. We were shuffled onto another bus through the back and were on our way again. We told the driver El Tunco and we stopped on a super quiet street and were told to walk down “that way”. It said El Tunco but there wasn’t a person in sight. We went to the second hostel when we saw a surfer sitting inside. After 17 hours of travel we made it to our destination! Super crazy day!
We got to El Tunco two nights ago and checked into a sweet hostel with a pool and awesome owner. We heard the owner is pretty legendary around here and he woke us up at the crack of dawn to go surfing. He took us to a break called La Botana which has a HUGE spray painted “Only Locals” sign next to it. It’s only a 5 minute walk from our hostel and he paddled out with so nobody said anything to us. I’ve only been here two days now but so far I’ve got to say that the breaks are the most localized I’ve ever surfed. Almost all the waves here are rights except La Botana which is famous for being a left and that’s why it’s so localized. The locals don’t even bother with the right at La Botana which is also an epic wave. The last two morning Chris and I have poached the right a La Botana and it has been all time except the Red Tide which is pretty bad right now. It funny because in order to get to the right at La Botana you have to paddle across the lineup of local guys who are doing the left and they all say pretty mean stuff to you as you go by. Both mornings we have gone super early so there are only a few guys out but we talked to some of the other gringos in the lineup who paddled out later towards the end of our session who got hassled pretty hard.
|Another boat trip to Manzanillo! Getting the boat into the water was no easy task!|
After La Botana we wanted to go surf in the afternoon at a break called El Zonte. We went to go hail a bus and the first one just looked at us and drove by so we decided to hitch hike. We got a ride pretty quick and surfed El Zonte at high tide. It wasn’t that good because the red tide there was the worst I’ve ever seen because it gets trapped inside the bay. We hitched our way back to El Tunco and the first truck stopped to give us a ride. He asked for a dollar each and he drove us right to our hostel! Unlike Nicaragua there is a really nice paved coastal road that runs north and south and makes it really easy to get to any of the breaks. Nicaragua hasn’t heard of pavement yet outside any of the main cities. So far we’re super stoked on El Tunco because it has the glassiest waves we have surfed thus far and the town is pretty established compared to Popoyo so there are lots of other travelers and people to meet. Chris flies home in a week and I still need to buy my return ticket but I will probably come home in a week or two. El Salvador so far has been awesome and I am stoked to surf some right handers for once! Also, the food here is delicious and is so so cheap! Gotta love it! Until next time!