Saturday, 11 May 2013

El Salvador

El Salvador here we come
Having spent almost a 9 months cycling through 4 countries (USA, Canada, Mexico & Guatemala) I was going to be adding a lot more countries to the list in relatively quick succession as I made my way through the rest of Central America.
We were greeted on our first day in El Salvador with lots of waves and smiling faces. We also saw a huge number of fellow cyclists on the road. Cycling in all shapes and forms is certainly a popular form of transport in El Salvador.

You see all sorts of things attached to bikes in El Salvador.
Through friends back in Ireland I had been put in touch with a few different Irish lads living in El Salvador so it was great to have been in contact with some friendly folk who had plenty of tips, contacts and suggestions for the way through their adopted country. For one reason or another I didn't manage to meet any of them, they were all based in the capital San Salvador which we would not be passing through and they all do a lot of travelling.... or else they had been warned to have their excuses ready!

Our first stop was Los Cabanos where a pal treated us to a lovely little hotel for our first night in El Salvador. We got there mid afternoon keen to make the most of our stay in this lovely place right beside the waters edge. Despite cycling close to the coast at various stages the last time I was actually on the beach was back in January with Nick just south of Mazatlan so I was thrilled to make it back to the coast proper.

Somebody is excited to be going to the beach

Cheers to our first day in El Salvador and arriving at the beach

The next day, after a quick swim in the pacific, we made our way along the beautiful winding coastline which was reminiscent of Big Sur in California. We were headed to Atami where had been hooked up with the use of a beautiful holiday place right beside the beach. This was a beautiful home and certainly not the usual kind of place we get to stay in so we made the most of it by taking a few days off to recharge the batteries.

Heavy traffic
View of the coast

Some of the many beautiful orange blossoming trees we passed, luckily I was wearing my matching orange TriAthy top.

It was hard to leave the lovely beach house but we needed to do a few big days to get us through the remainder of El Salvador and on through Honduras. Where we stayed the following night could not have differed more from our previous few days of relaxation. We spent the night in a fairly grotty "hotel" where Rowan spoted a rat crawling across one of the beams in the roof  so despite the stifling heat in our claustrophobic room we decided to erect our tents on our beds. The next morning I literally woke up in pool of sweat (nice) in my clammy tent but would rather that than have Mr Rat whispering sweet nothings in my ear as I sleep!

Always use protection.
The coast of El Salvador is a popular surf spot
House by the road
The next two days were spent cycling in hot humid conditions through the rest of El Salvador, taking breaks where we could in air conditioned petrol stations. You would not have to be in El Salvador very long to notice the amount of guns in the country. Most shops seemed to have heavily armed security guards, including a bike shop we passed. 

Some of the heavily armed security guards we met outside a petrol station

Beautiful El Salvador landscape

Some captured iguanas for sale to be eaten

Trocaire also have an office in El Salvador and although we did not have time to visit any of the their projects  I have included some additional information on El Salvador and Troaire's work in the country.

El Salvador is the smallest and most densely populated country in Central America and has been wracked by civil war and a succession of natural disasters.The population in 2013 is estimated at 6.1 million and average per capita income is estimated at US$ 7,700.

In the 1980’s El Salvador was ravaged by a bitter civil war. This was stoked by inequality between a small and wealthy elite, which dominated the government and the economy, and the overwhelming majority of the population, many of whom lived - and continue to live - in abject poverty.

The war left around 70,000 people dead and caused damage worth $2bn, but it also brought about important political reforms. In 1992 a United Nations-brokered peace agreement ended the civil war, but no sooner had El Salvador begun to recover when it was hit by a series of natural disasters, notably Hurricane Mitch in 1998 and earthquakes in 2001. These left at least 1,200 people dead and more than a million others homeless.

The economy depends heavily on the money sent home by Salvadoreans living in the US. At least 20% of El Salvador's population lives abroad. The remittances they send home account for close to 20% of GDP, are the second largest source of external income after exports, and have helped reduce poverty.


Trocaire’s current programme in El Salvador focuses on supporting poor communities to improve their livelihoods and resist the impacts of climate change and natural disasters. As well as working directly at local level, Trocaire supports partners to engage in advocacy so that the Salvadorean government and the international community take action to mitigate against the worst impacts of climate change.

A wall mural we passed on the road in El Salvador saying No to violence against women.

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