Central America

We left Antigua and headed south towards El Salvador, stopping about 50kms/30miles before the border, we knew we could stay at this location along the highway that had 24hr security.

We parked and went for dinner at a local restaurant, while there parking lot started filling up which surprised us, as it turns out there was a football (soccer) game being played by two local teams. Everyone left by 11:00pm and we had a really quite night other than some truck traffic. Next morning, we had a nice breakfast and hit the road to Lago de Coatepeque, El Salvador.

We crossed the Guatemala/El Salvador without too much trouble. First off, we cancelled our tourist visa, then our Temporary Vehicle Import Permit (TVIP) in Guatemala and drove to the El Salvador Immigration office for our new visa’s and the to the Aduana for our TVIP. Once complete we set of for Lago de Coatepeque.

Upon clearing the border ,we found that the roads were generally improved over Guatemala.
We found a nice location right on the lake and would stay here for a couple of days. After a long day of border crossing, driving to the lake, the first order of business was to install the El Salvador flag on the back of the home then go have a beer overlooking the lake before dinner.

After dinner we sat out and watched the sun go down over the mountains as the clouds started rolling in. A party boat floated passed, although there were not to many party goers on board, it sailed its route and went back to its dock in the dark.

Next morning the sun was up with clear blue skies.

When we left, we decided to continue south along the coast till we arrived at El Cuco where we stayed in a walled compound on the beach.

We set camp next to a raised covered area where we sat out and had a nightcap after making dinner and watched the sun go down over the Pacific Ocean.
Yup! Back on the west coast after months on the East coast and inland at higher elevations. It was nice to have to ocean breeze to help keep us cool.

Again, continuing on to Honduras. We had no intensions of stopping in Honduras and drove straight through, this meant crossing two borders in one day. At this point we had no idea how far we would get or where we would be spending the night. As we approached the border, we had to pass a 5km/3mile long line-up of trucks waiting their turn to cross the border, we had to drive down the opposite side of the road.
The border crossing from El Salvador to Honduras was straight forward. Leaving Honduras, we went through the usual process, cancel our visa and TIVP in Honduras then onto the Nicaraguan side of the border. Arranging our visa’s and TVIP should have been straight forward but for reasons unknown took about three hours.
By time this was all complete, it was getting close to 6:30pm and was starting to get dark and a torrential down pour started, which for us was not good as we have a rule not to drive south of the US border in the dark.

Before leaving the border we quickly scanned our options. There was a truck stop in a fenced yard not far from the border which had a restaurant, this would be our destination.

When we arrived, we were directed to our parking spot by the attendant, we quickly setup and headed over to the restaurant for a new local beer to wind down from the day’s activities and some local food dinner.

We sat there talking with some of the truck drivers in our broken Spanish and their broken English but managing to communicate.
After a relatively quite night, other then some trucks either arriving or leaving we readied ourselves for Nicaragua. First though was to install the Honduran and Nicaraguan flags on our home.

We had not really planned on stopping but decided we would visit Volcan Masaya on the way through. This is an active volcano that is located in a National Park on the southwest side of Managua. When you arrive at the gate and pay your entrance fee, they stipulate that you should not spend more than a couple of minutes at the vent due to the release of gasses.

Masaya is a caldera located in Masaya, Nicaragua, 20 km south of the capital Managua. It is Nicaragua’s first and largest national park, and one of 78 protected areas of Nicaragua. The complex volcano is composed of a nested set of calderas and craters, the largest of which is Las Sierras shield volcano and caldera. Within this caldera lies a sub-vent, which is Masaya Volcano sensu stricto. The vent is a shield type composing of basaltic lavas and tephras and includes a summit crater. This hosts Masaya caldera, formed 2,500 years ago by an 8-km³ basaltic ignimbrite eruption. Inside this caldera a new basaltic complex has grown from eruptions mainly on a semi-circular set of vents that include the Masaya and Nindiri cones. The latter host the pit craters of Masaya, Santiago, Nindiri and San Pedro. Observations in the walls of the pit craters indicate that there have been several episodes of cone and pit crater formation.
Masaya continually emits large amounts of sulfur dioxide gas (from the active Santiago crater) and volcanologists study this (amongst other signs) to better understand the behavior of the volcano and also evaluate the impact of acid rain and the potential for health problems. (Wikipedia)

The view of the area from up here was also good, overlooking Lake Managua (Lago Xolotlán) and the surrounding plains.

From here we continued south along Lake Nicaragua (Lago Cocibolca), we stopped along the way to take in the view of Ometepe island.

Ometepe is an island formed by two volcanoes rising out of Lake Nicaragua in the Republic of Nicaragua. Its name derives from the Nahuatl words ome (two) and tepetl (mountain), meaning “two mountains”. It is the largest island in Lake Nicaragua.
The two volcanoes (known as Volcán Concepción and Volcán Maderas) are joined by a low isthmus to form one island in the shape of an hourglass, dumbbell or peanut. Ometepe has an area of 276 km2. It is 31 km long and 5 to 10 km wide. The island has an economy based on livestock, agriculture, and tourism. Plantains are the major crop. (Wikipedia)

Then continuing on until we reached La Virgen where we turned right to San Juan del Sur. We found a spot to stay at the very modern Marina in its parking lot which had 24hr security. As this town is a resort destination area there are lots of nice hotels, bars and restaurants. We walked along the waterfront where we found a beachfront bar for a refreshment.

After reviewing the menu, which was mainly burgers and fries, we decided to continue until we found something we fancied. We came across an Italian restaurant overlooking the bay with the waves rolling-in where we both ordered pasta, they also had a Margarita special.

While we were having dinner, the heavens opened up and the monsoon started. After dinner we were dreading walking back, so decided to order a taxi through the restaurant. At which point the owner asked us where we were staying, when we said the marina, she offered to drive us and did dropping us off at our door.

Next: Costa Rica and Panama

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