The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

Dispatch from El Salvador

The Central American country of El Salvador is a wonderful place to visit, and this was my experience
Evan Wu
Surfer about to paddle out to sea at Playa El Zonte on May 27.

The newly revitalized country of El Salvador offers so much adventure and excitement, so I got a direct flight to San Salvador International Airport to bring you a dispatch from the heart of central America.

El Salvador greeted me with a wall of heat and humidity. The air had a familiar scent of sweet smoke from burning trash which I had encountered in many other places throughout the developing world..

With me is a half-full 50-liter backpack and a surfboard bag with two boards. My cohort Evan Wu, 35, an E.R. doctor working in California, greets me outside customs where the driver arrives and whisks us off to the coast.

Accommodations at Horizonte Surf Camp Hostel are prepared for visitors on May 25. (Joshua Hascall)

We arrived 45 minutes later in the sleepy town of El Zonte and pulled into a hostel. Saburo, the owner of the hostel greets us. The accommodations for a two-bed bungalow with A/C, a shower and a private patio are $40 per night. Split between the two of us, it amounts to $20 per night.

Story continues below advertisement

After unpacking our bags, thunder rattles the windows and lightning fills the skies above. Moments later, heavy tropical rain begins pelting the tin roof of our bungalow. The electricity flickers and we call it a night.

The next morning we grabbed our surfboards and went behind the hostel to a crescent-shaped, black sand beach where the waves lap upon cobblestone-shaped rocks, producing a sound similar to that of river rocks tumbling over each other.

After two hours of surfing in the 80 degree waters of the Pacific Ocean, we had a solid breakfast consisting of eggs, rice, beans, two fried plantains and a cup of café con leche (coffee with milk). All the food, coffee and milk here are locally produced. Our total for the meal was $12 USD, which is the official currency of El Salvador.

The midday heat in central America is brutal and is known as “siesta” time. During siesta, shops close, people retreat from the heat and — if you’re keen — you can find a hammock and celebrate siesta time with a nap. The blazing 95 degrees and 90% humidity make that task easy. An onshore breeze helps cool things down as the townspeople all retreat to comfort. After a nap, a dip in the bean-shaped pool at the hostel helps cap off another wonderful siesta.

Cobblestones line the shore at Playa El Zonte on May 31. (Joshua Hascall)

After surfing the dusk away, we were invited to a beachside restaurant for dinner together with Saburo. We accepted the invitation and proceeded to the restaurant.

At the dinner, we met many other guests including José, a 23-year-old musician, who came from Argentina to explore El Salvador. He said he only meant to come for a week, but he had already been there for a month and decided to cancel his flight back a day before.

Another man, who introduces himself as José, sat down next to us. He is a 24-year-old bartender from Ecuador who had always dreamed of seeing El Salvador. Both Josés are staying in the dorm bungalow of the hostel.

“So many come, and some do not go so fast,” José from Argentina said. “Sometimes you make friends for a moment, and sometimes friends for life. It is like this when you travel.”

Later in the week, Evan and I took a local bus to the mountainous town of Tamanique. The high-elevation town is home to the Cascadas de Tamanique, which are a series of beautiful waterfalls discoverable after a 30-minute trek through jungle and steep agricultural plots. Tamanique is just one of many sets of waterfalls throughout El Salvador.

Swimmers on September 20 enjoy the cool waters Cascades de Tamanique. (Joshua Hascall)

After a few hours of trekking, jumping off waterfalls into pristine jungle waters and eating local sweets at a few local shops, we rode the local bus back down the mountain and ventured into the coastal town of El Tunco, which is known as a party town for both locals and tourists.

Many travelers recommended hitchhiking and said that Salvadorians were extremely happy to accommodate hitchhikers and give rides within reasonable proximity for around $10. After eating in El Tunco, we walked back to the main highway to try it.

Within 10 minutes, a Salvadorian man in a black Kia pulled over and offered us a ride. We say, “El Zonte por favor,” and the man replies, “No problem, friend.”

Evan offered him $10 cash, and he said, “You can pay me when (we) get there; no worries, friend.”

He drops us off at the entrance of El Zonte and we walk the rest of the way. For the price of $10 we have a story that will be remembered for life: hitchhiking in El Salvador.

The small size of El Salvador allows tourists to easily reach nearby countries including Guatemala, Honduras and to some extent, Belize and Nicaragua. This allows for international day trips or for backpack travelers to move on to further destinations.
The official currency of El Salvador is the U.S. dollar and Bitcoin. Often, rather than receive one-dollar notes as change you will receive dollar coins.

El Salvador is a wonderful place for any international traveler to get away, enjoy another climate, make new friends from far away, try surfing for the first time or just to see what the hype around travel is.

A roadside vendor makes pupusas, a popular dish in El Salvador on the evening of May 28. (Joshua Hascall)

If you’re up for an adventure, buy a one-way ticket, pack a small backpack and book a bunk in a dorm at a well-reviewed hostel. Upon arrival, take the local bus there, arrive with a smile, take chances by introducing yourself to strangers and don’t turn down invitations to try interesting things.

One last word of advice: ditch the phone for the majority of the day and experience pura vida en El Salvador.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Joshua Hascall
Joshua Hascall, Copy Editor
I enjoy letting my fingers dance upon the keyboard until something fun and interesting come out! I hope to be able to write entertaining, humorous and often provocative editorials on a wide array of subjects.

Comments (0)

La Voz Weekly intends this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments should be respectful and constructive. We do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks or language that might be interpreted as defamatory. La Voz does not allow anonymous comments, and requires a valid name and email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comment.
All La Voz News Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest