Friday, December 14, 2012

On to La Palma

Another day, another border crossing - our 5th country in two weeks. More aggravation or no?

We were lucky to find a direct bus from Santa Rosa de Copan to the El Salvador border at El Poy. It's a through bus to San Salvador operated by Copaneco, but it stops at the Sultana office in Santa Rosa (adjacent to the main terminal) at 9:15 AM. The beauty of the direct bus is not having to change transport in Neuva Ocotopeque. In fact we could have taken this bus all the way to La Palma, El Salvador, but the fare for the 12 kms from the border to La Palma was almost as much as the fare for the 92 kms from Santa Rosa to the border. So the plan was to catch a local bus after crossing the border.

The ride to the border was very scenic and cooler with each passing kilometer as we headed mostly uphill. Much to our relief, this border crossing was uneventful. We got off the bus, changed our remaining Honduran Lempire to US dollars, the official currency of El Salvador, exited Honduras and entered El Salvador with no money requested or required. Sun-Ling's passport was examined thoroughly - it's really thick with lots of visas and stamps. ;-) We were surprised that El Salvador does not give you an entry stamp, they simply enter your info into the computer.

A short bus ride and we are in La Palma and take a poor room at a decent hotel - The Hotel La Palma. It's almost fully booked for a conference and we get the last room. But the wi-fi signal is strong, the air is cool (almost cold), and we sit alone on the peaceful veranda for one evening - the group will arrive tomorrow.

La Palma is known for a certain artistic style, that of Fernando Llort and there are many artisan shops around town; and almost every wall, including our hotel room, sports a mural. But the town has seen better days in our opinion. The murals are slightly faded and the truck and bus traffic on the main road from the capital San Salvador to Honduras lurches, rumbles, and growls through the center center on parallel one-way streets.

La Palma is less than 20 kms from the highest peak in El Salvador - El Pital at 8200 ft. So we catch the 8:30 AM bus to St Ignatio, the 9:30 AM to Rio Chiquito (which goes up, up, up) and at 10:30 we begin the 3km walk up to El Pital with our new friend James from London who we met on the bus.

We get some great views on the way up, but it's obvious that we are walking into the clouds,and sure enough there is no view from the top, just mist, a radio tower, and a summit marker (which also marks the border with Honduras). Even with no view, we very much enjoyed chatting with our new friend James, walking in the tropical cloud forest to Piedra Rajada, a huge cloven rock, and photographing beautiful vistas from below the clouds.

Back in La Palma it's a pupusa dinner (traditional Salvador dish) , a quick look at futbol matches on the town square, and then bed as tomorrow is another travel day - no border crossings so should be a tranquil 3-hour bus ride to Suchitoto.

The view from the bus as we head towards the Honduras-El Salvador Border. The pine is the national tree of Honduras.
The Road to El Poy, Honduras/El Salvador

At the highest point in El Salvador - El Pital.
El Pital - 8200 ft - The highest point in El Salvador

Sun-Ling descending in the tropical cloud forest.
La Palma, El Salvador

Near the summit of El Pital.
La Palma, El Salvador

Below the clouds on El Pital.
La Palma, El Salvador

John Chillin' on the veranda.
La Palma, El Salvador

A mural in La Palma.
La Palma, El Salvador

Another Mural.
La Palma, El Salvador

A semi rumbles through La Palma.
La Palma, El Salvador

1 comment:

WQZ said...

That's the super man and super woman picture!