LICENSE PLATE COLLECTION OF MATT EMBRO


EL SALVADOR - APRIL 2009

AFTER WORKING IN HONDURAS FOR A COUPLE OF WEEKS BACK IN 2005, I HAVE BEEN QUITE INTERESTED IN EXPLORING MORE OF CENTRAL AMERICA. BUT ASIDE FROM A COUPLE OF DAY TRIPS OFF OF CRUISES I HAVE BEEN ON IN THE AREA, I HADN'T REALLY HAD THE CHANCE. THEN, WHILE LOOKING THROUGH VACATION PACKAGES ONLINE FOR OUR VACATION THIS PAST APRIL, I CAME ACROSS AN ALL-INCLUSIVE RESORT IN THE COUNTRY OF EL SALVADOR AND DECIDED TO BOOK A WEEK THERE. THE PACKAGE WAS THROUGH NOLITOURS, WHICH IS A PRETTY REPUTABLE TOUR COMPANY BASED IN QUEBEC, AND I WAS SURPRISED TO FIND THAT THE PRICE WAS RELATIVELY CHEAP COMPARED TO RESORTS IN OTHER PARTS OF CENTRAL AMERICA, LIKE COSTA RICA AND PANAMA.

WE FLEW DOWN ON A CHARTER FLIGHT OUT OF TORONTO, DIRECT TO SAN SALVADOR. IT WAS A PRETTY UNEVENTFUL FLIGHT OVERALL.. EXCEPT FOR WHEN WE FLEW DOWN OVER THE FLORIDA KEYS, WHICH WERE PRETTY COOL TO SEE FROM 35,000 FEET..


WE LANDED IN SAN SALVADOR EARLY IN THE AFTERNOON. THE RESORT WE WERE STAYING AT HAD A BOOTH IN THE AIRPORT, SO AFTER GOING THROUGH CUSTOMS WE WERE ABLE TO CHECK INTO THE RESORT BEFORE EVEN LEAVING THE AIRPORT. THEN WE WERE ASSIGNED A BUS FOR THE TWO HOUR DRIVE TO OUR RESORT, THE ROYAL DECAMERON SALINITAS. THEY HAD THE PROCESS PRETTY STREAMLINED, WHICH I WAS QUITE PLEASANTLY SURPRISED TO FIND BEING AS EL SALVADOR'S TOURISM INDUSTRY IS STILL IN IT'S INFANCY.

THE AIRPORT WAS ACTUALLY RELOCATED A FEW YEARS AGO, TO THE SOUTHEAST PART OF THE COUNTRY A HALF AN HOUR OR SO DRIVE FROM SAN SALVADOR, SO WE HAD TO DRIVE NORTH INTO SAN SALVADOR, THEN HEAD WEST THROUGH THE MOUNTAINS AND COUNTRYSIDE, PAST A COUPLE OF VOLCANOES, THEN FINALLY SOUTH TO OUR RESORT, WHICH IS ON THE COAST NEAR THE TOWN OF SONSONATE. THE BUS RIDE EVEN INCLUDED A SNACK AND A COOLER FULL OF EL SALVADOR'S NATIONAL BEER, PILSENER.


IT WAS AROUND DINNER TIME WHEN WE FINALLY ARRIVED AT THE RESORT, SO AFTER FINDING OUR ROOM AND UNPACKING A BIT WE GRABBED SOME DINNER, AND THEN SPENT THE REST OF THE NIGHT RELAXING AFTER THE LONG DAY OF TRAVELING. THE NEXT MORNING WE WENT TO AN ORIENTATION AND BOOKED THE EXCURSIONS WE WANTED TO GO ON, AND THEN SPENT A COUPLE HOURS EXPLORING THE RESORT BEFORE HITTING THE POOL FOR THE REST OF THE DAY.

THE NEXT DAY WAS WEDNESDAY, AND WAS THE DAY OF OUR FIRST EXCURSION WHICH WAS TO A PLACE CALLED JUAYUA CASCADES. THEY ARE A SERIES OF WATERFALLS IN THE MOUNTAINS AROUND THE TOWN OF JUAYUA, WHERE YOU CAN GO HIKING AND SWIMMING IN NATURAL POOLS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WATERFALLS. THEY DON'T TAKE ANY CHANCES WITH TOURISTS IN THIS PART OF THE WORLD, SO OUR MINIBUS HAD TWO ARMED GUARDS IN THE FRONT SEAT WITH OUR BUS DRIVER.


HERE IS A CLOSE UP OF THE PLATE FOR YOU PL8STERS OUT THERE ;)


ONCE IN THE QUAINT LITTLE MOUNTAIN TOWN OF JUAYUA, WITH IT'S OLD CHURCHES AND COBBLESTONE STREETS, WE PULLED DOWN A LONG BUMPY DIRT ROAD, TO A LITTLE SHACK OF A BUILDING WHERE WE GOT OUT OF THE MINIBUS. WE THEN HIKED FOR 15 OR 20 MINUTES DOWN DUSTY TRAILS, WHEN THE FIRST WATERFALLS STARTED TO COME INTO VIEW. IT WAS PRETTY HOT AND HUMID, SO WE DECIDED TO TAKE A DIP IN THE FIRST NATURAL POOL WE CAME ACROSS, TO COOL OFF FOR THE REST OF THE HIKE..


AFTER THE SWIM WE CONTINUED ON DOWN A FEW MORE TRAILS TO A FEW MORE WATERFALLS, THEN BACK TO THE SHACK AT THE FRONT FOR A SNACK AND A DRINK. THEN, WE GOT BACK IN THE MINIBUS AND HEADED TO THE TOWN OF SALCOATITAN, WHERE WE WENT TO A MARKET TO BUY SOME SOUVENIRS. AFTER AN HOUR OR SO AT THE MARKET IT WAS TIME TO HEAD BACK, THROUGH SONSONATE TO THE RESORT.


WHEN WE GOT BACK, I DECIDED TO WALK AROUND AND TAKE SOME PICTURES WHILE WE HAD THE TIME. I STARTED IN THE PARKING LOT, WHERE I SNAPPED A FEW PLATES THAT WE DON'T GET TO SEE VERY OFTEN :)..


THEN I HEADED OVER TO THE MAIN PART OF THE RESORT, WHERE THEY HAVE BUILT A SALT WATER POOL THAT FILLS UP WITH OCEAN WATER WHEN THE TIDE IS IN. THE TIDES GO IN AND OUT QUITE OFTEN ON THIS PART OF THE PACIFIC COAST, AND DURING THE DAY THERE ISN'T MUCH SWIMMING AT THE BEACH WHEN THE TIDE IS OUT. SO, THEY BUILT THIS POOL SO YOU STILL HAVE THE OPTION OF SWIMMING IN NATURAL SALT WATER INSTEAD OF THE REGULAR POOL..


THE REST OF THE RESORT WAS YOUR TYPICAL 4-STAR ALL INCLUSIVE, IT WAS VERY WELL KEPT AND HAS PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING YOU WOULD EXPECT.. I FORGOT QUITE OFTEN THAT I WAS IN EL SALVADOR ACTUALLY. IT WAS MUCH BETTER THAN I COULD HAVE EXPECTED FOR A RESORT IN THAT PART OF THE WORLD. THE ROOM WAS VERY SPACIOUS AND CLEAN, AND THE VIEW WAS VERY NICE AS WELL..


THE NEXT DAY WE HAD ANOTHER EXCURSION, WHICH WAS THE ONE THAT I WAS MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO.. A DAY TRIP TO ANTIGUA, GUATEMALA. WE BOARDED THE BUS EARLY IN THE MORNING, AND HEADED WEST ALONG CA-2 TO THE BORDER CROSSING AT LA HACHADURA. IT WAS A LOT LESS INVOLVED CROSSING INTO GUATEMALA THAN I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE.. WE PARKED AT THE IMMIGRATION BUILDING, LINED UP AT THE WINDOW AND GOT OUR PASSPORTS STAMPED, THEN RE-BOARDED THE BUS AND CONTINUED ON. THE WHOLE PROCESS ONLY TOOK ABOUT 15 MINUTES.


WHILE AT THE BORDER I CAUGHT A GLIMPSE OF THIS TRUCK PARKED WAITING TO CROSS INTO GUATEMALA.. IT WAS FROM A COMPANY IN WOODBRIDGE, ONTARIO AND HAD CURRENT ONTARIO TRUCK PLATES (NOT PRP) WITH A TEMPORARY STICKER, WHICH I THOUGHT WAS A BIT WEIRD. CLICK ON IT FOR A BETTER VIEW (BIG FILE)..


WE CONTINUED WEST ON CA-2 INTO GUATEMALA UNTIL THE TOWN OF ESCUINTLA, THEN WE HEADED NORTH ON GUATEMALA 14 INTO ANTIGUA.


WE SPENT A GOOD PART OF THE DAY TOURING ANTIGUA, WHICH IS SURROUNDED BY VOLCANOES, SO IT HAS BEEN PLAGUED BY EARTHQUAKES OVER ITS HISTORY. AN EARTHQUAKE LEVELED THE ENTIRE CITY IN 1668 AND THE MAJORITY OF THE BUILDINGS WERE REBUILT, ONLY TO BE DESTROYED AGAIN BY A SERIES OF EARTHQUAKES IN 1773. IT WAS THE CAPITAL OF GUATEMALA UP UNTIL THE EARTHQUAKES IN 1773, WHEN THE CAPITAL WAS RELOCATED TO ITS CURRENT SEAT, GUATEMALA CITY. ANTIGUA HAS SINCE BEEN DESIGNATED A UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE, AND MUCH OF THE CITY STILL SITS IN RUIN AS COLONIAL BUILDINGS ARE SLOWLY RESTORED. HERE ARE A FEW SHOTS FROM AROUND TOWN. IN THE FIRST TWO PICTURES, YOU CAN MAKE OUT THE FAINT OUTLINE OF A VOLCANO IN THE SMOGGY BACKGROUND.


AND OF COURSE I WAS PLATE SPOTTING THE WHOLE TIME AS WELL :)


AFTER TOURING THE TOWN FOR MOST OF THE DAY, WE TOOK A BREAK AND HAD DINNER, AND THEN BOARDED THE BUS FOR OUR RETURN TRIP TO EL SALVADOR. IT TOOK A BIT LONGER TO CROSS THE BORDER THIS TIME, AS THERE WERE QUITE A FEW TRUCKS WAITING TO CROSS AS WELL. AFTER GETTING ACROSS, WE HEADED FOR THE RESORT UNDER THE COVER OF NIGHT, AND GOT BACK AROUND 9PM. IT WAS A LONG 15 HOUR DAY OF TOURING AROUND, BUT WELL WORTH IT.


THE NEXT TWO DAYS WE DIDN'T HAVE MUCH TO DO, SO WE TOOK THE TIME TO RELAX AND ENJOY THE RESORT. WE ACTUALLY MET A COUPLE FROM THE SAME TOWN AS US WHILE ON THE TRIP TO GUATEMALA, SO WE NOW HAD SOMEONE ELSE TO SIT WITH AT THE BUFFET AND TO SHARE STORIES WITH OVER A FEW DRINKS AROUND THE POOL.

ON THE SATURDAY WE HAD ANOTHER EXCURSION, A LITTLE BIT SMALLER THIS TIME. BECAUSE OF THE LACK OF BEACH SWIMMING AT THE RESORT DURING THE DAY, THE COMPANY PURCHASED AN OCEANFRONT PROPERTY ABOUT 30 MINUTES AWAY IN THE SMALL COMMUNITY OF METALLO. THEY OPERATE A SHUTTLE THERE TWICE A DAY WHICH IS FREE AND THEY HAVE AN ALL INCLUSIVE BAR AND MEALS, SO WE FIGURED WE'D CHECK IT OUT. IT WAS PRETTY NICE, THEY HAD A BUNCH OF BEACH CHAIRS AND HAMMOCKS TO RELAX, AND OF COURSE THE HUGE UNTAMED SURF OF THE PACIFIC OCEAN WAS A WELCOME CHANGE TO THE SHALLOW, LOW TIDE POOLS OF THE RESORT.


WHEN WE RETURNED FROM THE BEACH WE HAD THAT NIGHT AND ONE MORE DAY SUNDAY TO ENJOY OUR TIME LEFT IN THIS BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY. WE TOOK IT EASY AND LAID AROUND THE POOL, RELAXING DURING THE DAY, AND SAT OUT ON THE PATIO LISTENING TO THE OCEAN OVER A FEW DRINKS AT NIGHT. WE WATCHED ONE LAST STUNNING PACIFIC SUNSET SUNDAY NIGHT, AND HEADED BACK TO CANADA MONDAY MORNING.



ERIE CONVENTION & EASTERN US - JUNE 2009 | BACK TO INDEX | HONEYMOON CRUISE - OCTOBER 2008