From Guatemala we “Spanglished” our way across the border into El Salvador and headed for the Ruta Las Flores (the Flower route).
A drive through the countryside stopping in four or five quaint villages was an excellent way to start our El Salvador experience.
Our first stop, Concepcion de Ataco is home to the El Carmen Coffee Estate.
We spent the night in the 100 year old farm house and were given a first hand look at the process of taking the coffee from the cherry fruit on the tree to the roasted bean.
El Carmen exports green unroasted beans to the major coffee brands in North America and Europe including Starbucks and Illy.
The next time you have a El Salvadorian Red Bourbon variety coffee it likely came from here.
Picking out the lesser quality beans.
Our first pupusas in El Salvador. Thick tortillas filled with a variety of flavours including frijoles, cheese, chicken or vegetables.
First up...Frijoles and cheese and spinach and cheese.
Walls painted with murals can be found all around the town of Ataco.
...and pupusas are not the only thing to eat in town.
From Ataco we carried on through the Western mountains to the town of Juayua where we would spend a few days hiking the seven waterfalls (which included a 120ft repel) and waited for the weekend food festival.
On our journey, small towns are often the most challenging places to find somewhere to camp.
Our campsite in Juayua. Not flashy, but it did the trick.
The Seven Waterfalls hike.
Our guide, Carlos.
Pupusas at Esmeralda's were some of the best we had in El Salvador.
Meat on the grill at the weekly Juayua food festival.
A couple more mountain villages and it was soon time to head to the beach.
We would hit two different beach areas in El Salvador, the first in the Northwest, Playa El Zonte.
But first we needed an oil change. No coffee offered at the garage but all the bananas you can eat.
Playa El Zonte.
In El Zonte another hotel parking lot would become home. Somehow we lost track of time here and before we knew it a week had passed.
...and his friend, the Scarlet Macaw
When we finally got moving again we headed South East to another fantastic beach, Playa el Cuco.
We did want to see more of the highlands and cross into northern Honduras...and we were hot.
...so from el Cuco we looped inland and then back North along the Artisanal route stopping for some jungle hiking in the Parque Ecologico Bosque de Cinquera.
We stopped in the small town of Suchitoto, considered one of the country's centres for art and culture.
We then made our way towards the Honduran border stopping for the night still on the El Salvador side where the folks at the Resort Entre Pinos were kind enough to let us pull right up next to their pool and camp for the night.
Three weeks flew by pretty quick and I think we got a good taste of El Salvador.
The mountains are fresh and beautiful, the coast is spectacular but once again it was the people that made our visit special.
On to Honduras.