Central America, El Salvador

Police Birthday Surf – 24 hours in El Tunco, El Salvador

January 30, 2015

We weren’t really planning on going to El Salvador initially because it felt a bit sketchy for us considering all the gang wars. We were thinking of just passing through, staying for a night,  getting through the borders and heading to Nicaragua. Although, after meeting so many people talk about El Tunco we were convinced we had to stay longer.

After meeting El Salvador's version of Walter White from Breaking Bad we were convinced we should visit. We constantly met backpackers and El Salvadorians who continually encouraged us to not simply pass through on our way to Nicaragua.

After meeting El Salvador’s version of Walter White from Breaking Bad we were convinced we should visit. We constantly met backpackers and El Salvadorians who continually encouraged us to not simply pass through on our way to Nicaragua.

Since Mark was wanting to celebrate his birthday on the beach it was the perfect timing. We got to El Tunco Saturday afternoon and had the rest of the day to just chill. We went out to the beach on Sunday and walked around the area thinking of what we could do. Being budget travelers we decided to go to the wet market in La Libertad after eating some seafood at a local restaurant and realizing we could have a lot more shrimp if we cooked it ourselves. From the main road we got a chicken bus (15 minute ride) for a quarter of a dollar to get to the market. We ended up buying some stuff at the grocery store, a few vegetables from a street vendor and fresh eggs and cheeses from a dairy shop. We decided to go to the dock last to buy some fresh seafood. We were welcomed with a bunch of fresh ceviches, prawns, crabs, lobsters and an overflowing supply of fish and other sea creature there is. We ended up walking straight to the end of the dock where they prepare the salted fish (the smell was ridiculously salty and fishy) and then went back to finally get some prawns ($6/pound).

We decided to go to the wet market in La Libertad after eating some seafood at a local restaurant and realizing we could have a lot more shrimp if we cooked it ourselves.

The market was conveniently located on a pier above the beaches of La Libertad. Each day fishermen would haul their boats up and down with the catch of the day.

Initially we thought this fish was a batman-fish. We never got the real story about it but we saw them hung on their stalls not sure if it was merely for decoration or something else (not consumable). We later heard some people referring to them as mermaid fish.

Monday came and so 24 hours in El Tunco starts… It was Mark’s 30th birthday. I asked him what he wanted to do and he said I just want it low-key, this day is just like any other day in our 365 travel dates it’ll be an amazing day. And so it was.. Adventure Monday. Mark started with a some surf lessons which he did pretty good at, he had no problem standing up and dealing with the waves. This could possibly be a new-found passion of his. He enjoyed it and had an amazing time learning from Taniki.

We ended up staying in the small surf town of El Tunco for a week. While there are wicked waves all throughout the Pacific coast in Central America the waves here were ideal for beginners and at $10 USD a lesson and $5 for a half day rental it was  perfect.

We ended up staying in the small surf town of El Tunco for a week. While there are wicked waves all throughout the Pacific coast in Central America this was the ideal place for beginners and at $10 USD a lesson and $5 for a half day rental it was perfect.

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Each time we walked to the beach we passed different mariachi bands.

Each time we walked to the beach we passed different mariachi bands.

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After grabbing lunch from Taco Guanaco (which is the best place to get fish tacos) we went out to on an hour hike to a series of small waterfalls and waterholes. We were able to cliff jump into refreshing waters and met a few locals who were doing crazy somersaults from the edge of the cliff to tree branches. Jumps ranged from 20-40 feet.

Crazy cliff jumpers.

Crazy cliff jumpers.

After jumping off a few cliffs, some of the locals offered Mark a drink since I mentioned it’s his 30th birthday ( I might have shouted it  bit ;)) It was the local rum, he was happy! We hiked back up and had some cold refreshing drink at one of the tiendas. We were told that the car wouldn’t be able to pick us up so we had to take a chicken bus going back. We walked in the town and waited for the chicken bus but ended up hitching a ride at the back of a police car. Everyone was pumped, Mark was already thinking of a possible post on his Facebook wall but thought it through since  our parents might freak out. He did it anyway ( it was his birthday, what could I do).

Hiking back into the twon of Tamanique we apparently didn't have a ride back to the beach. Who better to hitch a ride from than the police! Unlike in America, El Salvadorian police are not only willing be be bribed but also willing to provide rides to tourists and locals. Great public servants!

Hiking back into the twon of Tamanique we apparently didn’t have a ride back to the beach. Who better to hitch a ride from than the police! Unlike in America, El Salvadorian police are not only willing be be bribed but also willing to provide rides to tourists and locals. Great public servants!

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Days on the beach ended like this. We saw some of the most beautiful sunsets on our trip here.

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Across the street from the highway after being dropped off and a few minutes walk led to an amazing sunset. El Tunco was definitely worth visiting. It’s a very tiny little surf town with the most beautiful sunsets and equally beautiful people. The locals we’re very warm and friendly, anyone can easily get stuck in a place like this. Why wouldn’t you?

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