El Salvador


After the grey skies of Honduras, we woke to a clear sunny day in Suchitoto and the town was a pleasure to see, with its cobbled streets, many lined with trees, and splashes of colour on the facades of the colonial-style houses. Most of all, it was a pleasure to awaken to quiet – Suchitoto had hardly any street traffic.

The central plaza and Iglesia Santa Lucia

A quiet street in Suchitoto

Market buildings on the edge of the plaza

The pastel-coloured houses of Suchitoto

It turned out to be a lazy day, as the winds that sprung up were too strong to take the planned boat trip out on Lago Suchitlan. Instead we slept in, enjoyed meals in shady courtyards, and wandered through the pleasant streets and central plaza, with its heritage listed church, famed for its wood-lined interior.

A foray down to the shore of Lago Suchitlan completed our roamings, and drinks on a deck overlooking the lake as the sun set over El Salvador finished the day. At the end of all this, we voted Suchitoto "the best little town so far".

A small inlet of the lake

Low suspension bridge on our lakeside walk

Panorama of Lago Suchitlan

Suchitlan sunset

Next morning we were up and ready at 5.30am. Yes, it was moving day yet again, but before we left, some of us had signed up for an early morning kayak in the wetland fringes of Lago Suchitlan to do some bird-watching. This lake has become a hot-spot for water birds and migratory land-birds and it was a pleasant bit of exercise to undertake, before heading off once again – this time for the Pacific Coast.

Dawn breaks over Suchitlan

A bit of bird-watching in the Suchitlan wetlands

Admiration for the beauty of Suchitoto and its lake is put in a perspective when you consider that this is a reservoir constructed to generate hydro-electricity. In doing so, many villages and their agricultural lands disappeared and over 13,000 people were displaced. "Progress" does not come without a cost.

El Cuco

Leaving Suchitoto, the journey passed fairly quickly as we crossed the centre of El Salvador, passing the volcanos of San Vicente and San Miguel along the way. We also had a brief stop in the town of San Miguel to have lunch, buy a few supplies and get $2000 skimmed off my credit card (but that is another story – and yes, it was eventually refunded). Cresting the last ridge, we looked westwards and saw, instead of more mountains as had been the case, a large flat expanse of blue – welcome to El Oceano Pacifico.

Volcan de San Vicente

The Pacific Coast hinterland of El Salvador

Soon we were unloading our bags and checking in to the basic, but comfortable resort of La Tortuga Verde. Not long after, we were sitting beneath the palms, sipping on piña coladas and watching the wind whipping the foam back off the perfectly formed waves. A few surfers were out catching the glass-fronted waves, some pelicans were diving for fish and a pod of dolphins cruised by behind the break. With the warmth, the sound of the surf and the broad fine sand beach, we felt at home. The only difference was that the sand here is volcanic and a rich brown colour that gets very hot in the sun.

Big seas at El Cuco

Surf's up

The next day was spent as a day at a beach resort should be spent – a bit of body-surfing in the waves before a leisurely breakfast, reading a book in a hammock beneath the shady cabana, strolling up and down the wide dark sands of El Cuco for a bit of zen as pelicans used the pressure of the waves to glide along their face, and frigate birds circled far overhead, a swim in the clear quiet waters of a small estuary and a marguerita or two as the sun set golden over the ocean.

El Cuco Beach at low tide

The pattern of of oceanic and volcanic sand

Cloud reflected in a tranquil lagoon

One toe in the Pacific

Some glorious sunsets over the Pacific Ocean

El Cuco was definitely a nice place to relax after some big travel days.