Archive for September, 2014


After running the gauntlet of flooded roads and cow herds, we pulled into El Cuco just before dark looking for a “tranquillo” spot to refresh our minds and bodies before the mayhem of trying to cross two borders and traverse three Central American countries in one day. Our plan of attack was to chill in El Cuco for a few days, then move on. Getting up early the next day, driving from El Salvador, through Honduras and into Nicaragua was the plan.

With its wide soft black sand beaches, tall palm trees, and constant surf, this has got to be the best spot to be in El Salvador. We arrived just before sunset at the La Tortuga Verde.  We were immediately attracted to this place and fell in love with it as soon as we passed through its gates. La Tortuga Verde is a sea turtle sanctuary, hostel, restaurant, bar, and has a host of activities in which to participate in. All of our favorite things rolled up into one location, you betcha. We patrolled the beach at night, but unfortunately we didn’t spot any turtles. However there were some eggs over in the nursery that were going to hatch within a few days.

Also watch out for the one winged Pelican. He runs the place. It was fun watching him go up to the restaurant window and beg for food.

We only stayed one night and had a great time. The room was clean with a comfortable bed. The beach is gorgeous, and there are plenty of hammocks. The food is reasonably priced to expensive, but quite good, and there are some cheap options within walking distance along the beach

If you’re looking for the best tranquil spot in all of El Salvador, La Tortuga Verde is it. Tomorrow we’ll attempt the two borders and three country crossing adventure.

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San Salvador to El Cuco

Posted: September 29, 2014 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel
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The trucks were finally finished and we were anxious to get back on the road. We were warned that it was going to be tough going to get out of San Salvador on a Friday afternoon dealing with rush hour and weekend traffic. It was also bittersweet since spending a week in San Salvador, we had to come to love San Salvador and all it had to offer. Another plus was meeting up with the El Salvador Land Rover Club, that was a big plus. We’ll have more to tell you about that later.

As we battled the traffic heading east out of the city, it quickly became a game of chicken with taxi’s, busses, pedestrians, mopeds, bicycles and animals. An all out free for all, dodging speed bumps, huge crater-like potholes, military and police checkpoints, but we were making progress ever so slowly. Often all the lanes but one would close down forcing causing everyone to merge into one lane because of construction or some disabled vehicle. The trucks got split up several times, but we always followed protocol, if we lose sight of each other we always pull over and wait until the other catches up. After what seemed like hours we made it to the outskirts of San Salvador and picked up CA 2. Finally on the outskirts of town, we started moving along at a steady 60 mph and enjoying the amazing views of the volcanoes.

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When we saw the sign for San Vicente, we took a right off CA 2 went thru San Vicente and got on an unpaved road heading south that would hook us up to CA 1. This unpaved road turned out to be quite an adventure, as more than two or three times we had to come to a complete stop for animals in the road. And these animals owned the road.

Eventually we hooked up with CA 1 and started heading east again until we saw the sign for El Cuco. Again driving over another volcano, we rolled into town just before dark. It was great to arrive at La Tortuga Verde. Stay tuned for updates as we try our hand as sea turtle conservationists.

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Gracias, Motores Britanicos, Land Rover San Salvador, El Salvador. A special thanks Mario Maravilla (Gerente Administrative) and Marina Beatriz (Asesor de Servicios) and the rest of the caring staff and technicians.Thank you for the service, support and special attention we received servicing our vehicles enabling us to keep CAOX moving forward. You all are the best! Your professional, personable and outstanding support is what we have come to expect from Land Rover and you all did not disappoint. We also enjoyed hanging out at the shop checking out all the cool Land Rovers and wishing our Spanish was better so we could talk more. Mario, we loved your Defender, and that trade for my Discovery is still on the table when you are interested, jajajajajaja. We also enjoyed checking out the wall of fame in which many Overlanders have stopped in as well. Keep up the great work and best success in the future. CAOX.

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If you’re passing through El Salvador and need work or services performed on your Rover we highly recommend Motores Britanicos, and tell them CAOX says hello.

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“Hi, we did it!!!

Yesterday we went to the 12km camp in Cockscomb…, but we took 4 hours to go and back. The group of four arrive very tired, but it was wonderful. I think we were the first ones to arrive at the camp with MTB. ;)”

Read the email I received from my great friend Rodolfo Sáenz de Ugarte. I was grinning ear to ear as I read it. I knew this was hard work, mountain biking through the jungle.  Speaking with Rodolfo, who has been instrumental in training the staff at the Cockscomb Wildlife Sanctuary, “I feel very proud and privileged to be a part of this process.” he said. “Mountain biking in the park is going to take tourism to a new level.” As of now cycling in the Sanctuary was not something offered or could be done. However, there is an effort to make mountain biking though this pristine jungle a reality.

Ugarte further explained that the Belize Audubon Society has been granted funding under a national project of the Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development. “Strengthening National Capacities for the Operationalization, Consolidation, and Sustainability of Belize’s Protected Areas System Project (UNDP/SNC.PAS).They feel that an opportunity to ride a mountain bike through the Cockscomb is something that many people would love to experience. ” he added. Tammy and I, having done it ourselves a week earlier can assure you that this will be an experience you won’t forget.

On the request of Ugarte. Our mission, to be guinea pigs of sorts, was to observe the training, do a test ride a few km’s, then assess and evaluate our experience.

Looking back in our diaries my wife’s read:

0745: Monday 28th, August 2014

“What a great way to start the week. My husband asked me to join him on a trip to Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. We have a deep love for this place, so of course I said YES. Then I found out the real reason for the trip. Our friend Rodolfo is teaching the local Cockscomb staff how to properly perform as advisors for tours on mountain bikes that will be offered in the near future through this protected area. Naively, I thought that since I have a bicycle for street riding that I could easily transition into mountain biking. This was going to be an easy day. I was quite wrong on this assumption. I learned that there are techniques to minimize all of the bumps along the path. Gear shifting is critical and has to be done at the right times in order to traverse hills and rough terrain. I managed to ride 4 kilometers before I became totally exhausted from all of the hills. Despite the experience being more difficult than I anticipated, I absolutely loved exploring Cockscomb on a bike” she wrote.

07:38 Monday 28th, August 2014, I wrote:

Helmet:    check

Water and purification tablets:  check

Adventurous Spirit: Check

Wait, I thought to myself, did he just say water purification tablets? What kind of mountain biking is this if I have to take water purification tablets? Well, here we are, I’m committed and can’t back out now. How did we get ourselves into this? All I could think about was spooking some napping Jaguar while zooming through the jungle. He’d chase me down, and I could potentially become breakfast or offer him my water purification tablets. How fast could a Jaguar run anyway, or is it the Cheetah that’s the fast one? Okay, I have to admit that my imagination was getting the best of me, but still we were going to be the first group of people ever to ride mountain bikes through the Cockscomb. Cool beans!

Camera: Check

Chased by a Jaguar: Check

Well, I did not get chased, but I stayed in low gear so I could easily out accelerate a Jaguar in case the opportunity presented itself. I mean, that would just make this story super exciting right?

Now with the preliminary training successfully completed, we’re sure the Belize Audubon Society will soon be announcing “Mountain Biking is now available in the Cockscomb.” From our evaluation we know that the staff are totally qualified. Knowing how to address mechanical issues, safety, first aid, and keeping everyone together as they enjoy an unforgettable experience, is what they are trained for. We’re sure mountain bike riding in the Cockscomb will become one of the most popular things to do.

A few of the details we know at this point are:

Bring your own bike or rent a bike from the park

It’s optional to ride with staff or not.

Strict rules and safety precautions must and will be abided by.

Only the first 12 kilometers will be open- from the Cockscomb headquarters to the 12km
campsite on the Victoria Peak trail.

Cost is $50 BZD

Bike rentals  7-11 AM and must be returned 5pm.

We’re sure some of this information will change or be adjusted accordingly, but for now,  I’d anticipating doing this. Go ahead add it to your bucket list.

http://cyclemeter.com/e545e47494f7daf3/MountainCycle-20140902-0629

 

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The dark side of San Salvador.

Posted: September 24, 2014 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel

Night moves

by Scott Woodhams

We were treated to a late night tour of the capital city of San Salvador last night, by one of the local Land Rover club members. It was very interesting and eerie at the same time. We drove through the toughest intercity areas in a nice Defender 110 diesel. These are not even available in the States. We drove into areas that we didn’t know existed, nor would we have went their on our own. Our friend, Miguel was a wealth of knowledge and really entertaining. Some of the pictures were not great due to being at night, but hopefully you can see the beauty of some of the architecture and the contrast of some of he areas we visited in the last few days.

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El Salvador update
by Scott Woodhams

We met up with a fellow Land Rover enthusiast here in El Salvador. He is a member of an exclusive golf resort, Club Salvadoreño  that he offered to let us stay at. The place is pretty spectacular. The lake was formed from a volcano eruption. Now the picturesque lake is situated amongst other volcanoes. There is so much to do that we decided to stay a few days. Kayaking, hiking, golf, boating, swimming and much more! We are in one of 5 small houses in the resort. Being that it is a weekday, we have pretty much full run of the whole resort. Landrover people are alright!

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“Pupusa’s” It’s what’s for dinner. Pupusas are similar to corn tortillas, only thicker and stuffed with cheese, beans or meat. The pupusa originated in El Salvador, and are traditionally made by slapping the dough back and forth between greased palms. Earlier today we or at least I did not know what a pupusa was. Fast forward to 7 pm this evening and I found a big fat full blown hot off the grill pupusa staring at me. Now, I’m an expert. If you ever make it to El Salvador you’ve got to come to San Salvador and have the original. There’s nothing like it,  you have to eat it like the locals, at a Pupuseria, and with your hands.

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We’re happy to be here and it seems like every corner we turn so are the El Salvadorians. Everyone is happy, waves, says hello and ” Bienvenidos”. The beaches are fantastic, the food is great, and all the amenities such as shopping and sightseeing are phenomenal. There are mountains (Volcanoes) to climb, nature parks, quaint colonial cities and beautiful coastal beaches.The only question we now have is, why haven’t we come here sooner? Now the problem is, we’re going to have a hard time leaving. So stay tuned as more of our adventure unfolds and we get a moment to catch our breaths with updates. “Viva El Salvador and Bienvenidos”

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This El Salvadorian Life

Posted: September 21, 2014 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel

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Getting an early start from Monterrico Guatemala, we arrived at the border of El Salvador with high anxiety, a fear of the unknown and not knowing what to expect as we had read and heard from other overlanders how difficult this border crossing could be. We are happy to report it was not as hard as we thought and the process went smooth and rather quickly. We’re now hanging out in El Tunco, a cool surf town, before we head over to the capital city of San Salvador. Stay tuned.

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