It took nearly a week to get our act together after my Brother Kevin arrived, but we had finally settled on heading to the Guatemalan pacific coast in search of sun and surf. Best we could tell, El Paredon was one of the few places in Guatemala set up for surfing unless you had your own board.
Our journey there was no less exciting than the ones that had taken us to Flores or onwards to Antigua, though certainly less death defying. The morning of our journey started out with a wander around the rear of the market in Antigua where the “bus terminal” is situated. The terminal was little more than a dirt parking lot where the chrome clad chicken busses are parked. While the signs above the driver do give some indication as to the direction the bus is headed, we found it most effective to just ask the drivers or helpers.
Two very cramped busses later we found ourselves in Sipicate, just a stone’s throw from El Paredon, our next destination. As we disembarked the bus and shuffled over to the tuk-tuks, there was only one thought going through Kevin’s mind, “I want to drive one of those!”.
The tuk-tuk ride was about a half hour long which gave me ample time to figure out how best to ask the driver if he’d let Kevin take the handle bars.
“Podria él manaja tuk-tuk por favor?” I asked in my broken Spanish. Translation: “Could he please drive?”
Without hesitation the young and small (I feel I should emphasize small) Guatemalan man stopped in the middle of the road and shuffled over to make room. My brother is about 6 feet tall and roughly 200 lbs, a small Guatemalan man he is not. Kevin got out of the rear where we and our bags were crammed and proceeded to wedge himself into the driver’s seat and drive us the rest of the way to the short river crossing.
Though we made an attempt at it, the driver wouldn’t be convinced as we jokingly suggested he pay us for the ride since Kevin did the bulk of the driving.
Our time in El Paredon was relatively short. We were told we had got there just as the weather had changed and the surf was no longer worth riding. The locals were only out in the waves the first day we were there after which we didn’t see them do much besides watch the waves on subsequent days and roll a strange green tobacco.
We stayed at El Paredon Surf Camp, a slightly dilapidated but still enjoyable spot right beside the beach with good food and hammocks in the shade. Had either of us realized however that the Surf Camp and the Surf House were very different things, we would have more likely found ourselves at the house with its much more updated accommodations, even better food, and only slightly higher prices.
It was our third or fourth morning in El Paredon when we realized the surf was unlikely to improve. “Maybe the surf will get better?” Kevin remarked as we started breakfast that morning.
“Or since you still have a week we could do something else? I just talked to one of the other guys and he says the surf should be better in El Salvador.” I replied
Near completion of our meals Kevin suddenly turned to me: “Ok, lets go.” And just like that we were about to hit our fourth country in two weeks. I hadn’t anticipated us going to El Salvador. Hell, I hadn’t even thought I would go there later as I had originally heard it was very unsafe.
As chance would have it, we managed to catch a ride with a native Guatemalan and her Californian boyfriend away from the coast and to where we’d find a chicken bus to take us back to Antigua.
We crashed in Antigua for the night though neither of us slept much and I barely got on the bus the next day due to having a bad smoothie at the Antigua market. Despite my condition we headed to El Salvador.
The drive to El Zonte, El Salvador was long but pleasantly uneventful save for a truck full of bananas we saw rolled over in the ditch. Kevin’s bag fell off the roof rack and slammed into the window scarring the crap out of everyone as it hung by a single ¼” elastic. Our driver was surprisingly calm compared to the standards we had encountered thus far on our trip. Yes, I classify this as an uneventful trip, my stomach was thankful!
I think the most startling thing we encountered was that El Salvador doesn’t stamp you passport when you enter or leave. Only Guatemala stamped us as we left.
This quiet little surf spot seemed to be exactly what we were searching for. Esencia Nativa Hostel & Restaurant was well setup with a terrace overlooking the ocean, hammocks, a pool, and lots of surfboards and boogieboards to rent.
We spent nearly a week there and though the surf was less than spectacular in comparison to other places Kevin had been, it was definitely relaxing.We were also pleasantly surprised how little out bill came to at the end of the week, though we suspect they may have missed a few things.
The only downfall to this stretch of coastline is the black sand beaches. While the sand is certainly unique, its ability to burn your feet intensely surpasses white sand so much that you’ll rarely even find locals without sandals on a sunny day.
Save for an hour long traffic jam on our return trip to Guatemala, I’m happy to say our drive back to Antigua was rather uneventful.
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