Nearly empty stone street at sunrise. A man stands with a motorcycle on one side, on the other a graffiti mural is on a wall.

Return to the Road

Mark Stewart Destinations Leave a Comment

Saturday. 10-15-22. El Tunco, El Salvador.

Strung out. The car is finally parked. I’ve never driven here before, though I’ve spent enough time on these roads to know they can get a little sketchy.

Driving at night only makes things worse. Hitting that random speed bump at 60 certainly woke me up. I was laser-focused after that.

We’d been up for 18 hours by this point. Exhausted, everything was hazy. But we were ecstatic, on familiar turf.

We sat under the fluorescent lighting of Burger Christy, the little open-air shack of a restaurant at the edge of a campground in El Tunco, El Salvador.

This was our first food stop on our initial visit to ‘Tunco many years ago. And we’ve made it a tradition on each visit since. And as usual, our arrival comes at the end of a long and arduous travel day.

The pupusas are hot, and the beer is sweating as much as we are.

It’s heaven.

And we’re back.

It’s been nearly three years since we left Canada. Since the pandemic shut the world down. Since we returned to some semblance of normalcy with day jobs and restricted vacation time. We explored locally during that time but didn’t feel the urge to write about it.

But being here, with the heat and mosquitos, the warm beer and the sounds of the ocean — it’s a return home, however temporary.

I didn’t realize how much I missed this.

Rocky beach with ocean on the left and palm trees on the right. A small building in the background.
Rocky Coastline near El Zonte

Saturday. 10-20-22. San Salvador, El Salvador.

The journey has been a whirlwind. We came with a motive, updating Everything El Salvador. Traffic has exploded over there this last year and we want to keep our guides as accurate as possible.

Renting a car saved us a ton of time and made for some interesting experiences along the way.

Driving in El Salvador is a trip.

The first few days were spent exploring the coast East and West of La Libertad — the newly branded “Surf City” region. Nice beaches can be tricky to find as the coast is quite rugged. But we managed to find some nice spots.

We navigated the highways and backroads of the coast, dodging buses, stray dogs and potholes the size of our car. We drank craft beer and ate fresh seafood, grilled meats and all the pupusas we could get our hands on.

We actually spent bitcoin at a restaurant.

From the coast, we ventured into the highlands of the West, along the famed Ruta de las Flores. We’ve spent much time here in the past, it’s a gorgeous place with colourful villages dotting the way and rolling hills of coffee plantations.

We needed this.

Wall painted in colourful graffiti beside a road on a hill. A green mountain is in the background.
Colourful Wall in Apaneca, on the Ruta de las Flores

Upon returning the rental car in Santa Ana, we run into a small hiccup. The woman at the agency finds a small crack in a taillight. It wasn’t caused by us but we didn’t notice it when we picked it up at the airport. It was dark and raining — and we were tired.

Our Spanish skills are enough to get us by in most situations but this required some conversing. Thankfully, we called Luis, a local friend of ours, who smoothed things out and everything worked out fine.

Soon after, we were sitting on the couch at Luis’ place having a wonderful and much-needed catch-up.

A quick visit and a sleep in our old bed later, we were off again. The worst part about this trip was the restricted timeframe. We’ve never spent such a short time in El Salvador and it made relaxing difficult.

Here in San Salvador now, winding down the whirlwind week.

We’re staying in Zona Rosa, a more upscale part of the city. We’ve ventured here on previous visits but have never stayed. It’s a stark contrast to the centre — with high-end hotels, restaurants, shopping centres and bars. Freshly painted bike lanes line the smooth-paved streets. It’s a side of El Salvador that many visitors miss. And I’m glad we have the chance to experience it.

It’s been a wild week. But so great to be back in our old stomping grounds, and back on the road in general.

We’re headed for upscale pupusas tonight before heading to the airport at the ungodly hour of 1:30 am.

Tomorrow we fly to Mexico.

About the Author

Mark Stewart

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Mark is a multi-passionate creative with a fascination for getting the most out of the human experience. While he isn't chasing adventures around the globe as a travel journalist and photographer, he works as a freelance writer, private chef and web developer.

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