May 23rd-26th: In Central America’s smallest, most densely populated country a golden-toothed smile was never far away. El Salvador gets bad press, and there is undoubtedly a crime problem especially gang related. Thankfully we had no problems, apart from the occasional over-exuberent drunk guy in some of the more bustling towns.
Almost everyone we met had spent time in the USA and was keen to practice their (varied) English on us, while we vainly tried to insist on using the local lingo. All were keen to help from a few free rides in pick-ups during the height of the amoeba episode, to guiding us to the best place for gnosh (invariably pupusas). El Salvadoreans were some of the most friendly people we have come across.
Just as we had got used to the accent (the El Salvadorean Spanish accent omits the ‘s’ at the end of those words that have it) and to using US$ (the national currency is the greenback) it was time to leave.
Another bridge, another border into our sixth country – Honduras. The most noticeable difference seemed to be an increased NGO presence – Red Cross vans everywhere, Save the Children logos on schools and a host of other placards announcing the international funding partners of various projects lined the road.
And the most obvious similarity? The heat remained intense (I wish we had a thermometer – it must be 40 degrees +). Hawling ourselves out of bed at 4.30am to beat the sun for a few short, blissful hours is becoming the norm.
Crossing the undulating southern tip of Honduras took just a few days. Accompanied by more smiles and waves, plus the inevitable cat-calls of ‘gringo!’ from groups of immaculately uniformed school kids, we made our way towards Nicaragua. Stopping often to mop our sweaty brows (an entirely futile exercise) and quickly spurred on by the clouds of flies and mosquitos that descended upon us while motionless, we racked up the miles and arrived at country number seven after two nights in Honduras.
Nicaragua: another bridge, another border…