Despite most of my moon course buddies slowly shifting out one by one over the last week, the cold showers, the rain starting again, I didn’t really want to leave San Marcos.

Chirpy walk pre barn spooning

I knew I would miss the chance encounters, like the boys who played funky local beats on the dock one night when we were stargazing over some beers, the one hour walk ending stuck in a barn in the next town, the artisans and store owners knowing me by name, and even the repetitive sound track [band music up by town, Celine Dion down by the dock].  All these things made San Marcos special for me.

At the same time, I felt like I was living in a western bubble within Guatemala.  The different sides to see are interesting.  The restaurants and hotels on the main roads and close to the lake are all run by foreigners, who’s Spanish isn’t always what it should be.  In fact, most of the courses are run in English.  The locals live in the village but further up the hill, their first language isn’t even Spanish, they speak Cackchiquel, a Mayan dialect. Others live in nearby villages but come to sell bread or do building work.  The mayor of the town seems to have spent all the money on a two week post election celebratory party, and there is no money left to run the water treatment plant.  They do not have the same life I had in San Marcos, that’s for sure.

Duality – Guatemala is beautiful – but not having potable water when you have a water treatment plant is just plain wrong

I don’t think San Marcos wanted us to leave either, because when departure day rolled round, I walked around town waiting to bump into my travel buddy, Julie.  This is how you meet up with people in San Marcos after all.  I knew she was doing the same, because everyone else had seen her, however we did not meet up until after the last bus.

The lake controls people’s lives in all different ways – the water has risen 3m over two years claiming many families’ houses

The next day, we get up early and go to the pier.  Too bad the lake still wasn’t ready for us to go yet.  As soon as we hop off the boat, we see a couple of friendsl.  Somehow the day turned into an afternoon of hot showers and eating dessert.  The afternoon turns into a night of delicious food, dancing and drunken adventures with more friends.

The next next day, we get up  late, put on our last clean pairs of underwear and really go.  In Santiago we get distracted by the Mayan textiles before finding the bus stop.  The bus then drives off while I am looking for food, but Julie saves me. I definitely would have seen my bag or board again!

Textiles and markets in Santiago

At the connecting bus stop, the attendant drops my board from the top of the bus.  He gets a well directed Hijo De Puta at him, but it’s all I can do.  Julie prepares me for the idea that my board won’t make the journey, but miraculously it survives, only needing a small nail polish repair.

On our first day in El Salvador,  we ride the bus, much the same as our last day in Guate, with the added bonus of a couple of hours wait at a depot in the middle.  Here we discover full meals for $1 and amazing pastries from all over the world.  We read, do Tarot and play ukulele.  Despite being the only white people around, no one really looks at us.

The people in El Salvador seem busy with their day to day lives.  This country is statistically a lot more violent than Guatemala.  The El Salvadorenians seem nice, curious but not rude.  However, the undercurrents are there; I sadly notice the school kids on the bus have bags saying “I want a life without violence” and even the food sellers that swarm the bus are more aggressive and desperate, despite less people living under the poverty line [54% in Guatemala, 37% in El Salvador, 30% in Argentina and 0% in NZ *CIA world fact book*].

After what seems like hours on the last bus, with sporadic glimpses of the sea, we get dropped off at an intersection on the highway.  Our luggage gets carefully handed to us, and we walk straight through the village towards the beach before even finding a hostel.  We made it!

Sunset over El Tunco, El Salvador tonight