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Old 02-12-2014, 11:07 AM   #226
MrGoldfish
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vintagespeed View Post
nothing freak about hiking up to the top of a volcano and intentionally camping solo at altitude on the edge of the rim.

i'm pretty sure that nature was doing what nature always does up there..
I said it was freak because the majority of the world doesn't have those conditions. Not here to argue about it, just embellishing a little.

Carry on Sean.
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Old 02-12-2014, 11:42 AM   #227
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SeanPNW - Great writing. You are one tough dude. I took the liberty of enhancing you photo so you can see what you didn't see.




One word - WOW!
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Old 02-12-2014, 03:07 PM   #228
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Thanks Sean for taking the time and effort to document your adventure so well. I randomly started reading your ride report and was hooked by your trip and your outlook on life. Your report will serve as a memory but in the meantime, it is giving those of us who read it some pretty great vicarious thrills.
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Old 02-12-2014, 04:28 PM   #229
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I was on the edge of my seat as you were describing the late-night trek to the other side of the rim after tearing down the tent! Screaming, "NO, Sean! Don't try to hike back down to base camp!"

Next paragraph I was relieved you settled in the middle of the crater for a rocky night. Altitude sickness sucks. I've been in Denver dang near my entire life and was surprised to get it about eight years ago on a ski trip. Never know when it's going to bite you, but I think hydration is key.

Glad you survived the night and lived to see El Salvador!

TOS (The Other Sean)
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Old 02-13-2014, 10:26 AM   #230
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SeanPNW View Post
I assumed I wouldn’t have a problem with the altitude, so foolishly ate a large meal on the summit.
I'm glad that you haven't changed much at all.
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Old 02-14-2014, 03:52 PM   #231
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Originally Posted by vintagespeed View Post
man, i really love your RR and the pics and gnarly experiences. but i gotta say, THAT was one of the most irresponsible things i've read of someone doing on ADV. glad you survived it.

we all want you to make it to the end of your RR.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vintagespeed View Post
nothing freak about hiking up to the top of a volcano and intentionally camping solo at altitude on the edge of the rim.

i'm pretty sure that nature was doing what nature always does up there..

Yep that Volcano was just doing normal volcano stuff, the weather was particularly bad that night, but nothing too freak about it. I would agree most would call it irresponsible, but don't worry, I have every desire to see more on this ride . Sometimes that burning urge to be up on the summit for that crazy view is insurmountable. I knew there was a possibility it could go a bit sideways (as the summit is also the most exposed), but I also knew that even at it's worst, it wasn't anything that was going to be deadly. An uncomfortable night and maybe a lost tent, but nothing deadly. Something I refer to as a calculated risk. In hind sight I still have all my digits and gear, so lesson on stubbornness learned , next time I'll do the smart thing and set-up shop in the crater off the get-go.
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Old 02-14-2014, 03:54 PM   #232
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vato Jinete View Post
SeanPNW - Great writing. You are one tough dude. I took the liberty of enhancing you photo so you can see what you didn't see.




One word - WOW!
Saweet, that view makes it worth it, would definitely do again....just drop that tent in a better spot
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Old 02-14-2014, 04:05 PM   #233
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaguaraz View Post
Thanks Sean for taking the time and effort to document your adventure so well. I randomly started reading your ride report and was hooked by your trip and your outlook on life. Your report will serve as a memory but in the meantime, it is giving those of us who read it some pretty great vicarious thrills.
Glad you are digging it, I'm stoked and feel lucky to have the opportunity to keep a record of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by theofam View Post
I was on the edge of my seat as you were describing the late-night trek to the other side of the rim after tearing down the tent! Screaming, "NO, Sean! Don't try to hike back down to base camp!"

Next paragraph I was relieved you settled in the middle of the crater for a rocky night. Altitude sickness sucks. I've been in Denver dang near my entire life and was surprised to get it about eight years ago on a ski trip. Never know when it's going to bite you, but I think hydration is key.

Glad you survived the night and lived to see El Salvador!

TOS (The Other Sean)
In one of the videos I took while up there I look into the camera and say "Sean! Don't leave the tent!". Survival skills tell you it's a stupid idea to leave your shelter, 90% of the time this is true, yet I knew there was better shelter available a short distance away in the crater. Even if I had NO tent in the crater it would still provide better shelter. Thinking I had a chance of getting to basecamp - I'll chock up to delirium. Didn't take long walking around in that shite to figure out that one wasn't going to work .

PS..El Salvador is great, possibly better than great. Why haven't I heard much about it?? More on that though shortly...

Quote:
Originally Posted by kosh View Post
I'm glad that you haven't changed much at all.
Dude, when have you known me to change...been getting a belly-ache from over eating my whole life. Thanks again for sending all that stuff, I ate the energy bar the other day and it was pretty darn good, if I must say so myself.
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Old 02-14-2014, 04:26 PM   #234
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53. Hey El Salvador...I Think I Like You

The time has come, let’s get the fuck out of Guatemala. Don’t worry Guatemala, I say this with love, but I NEED to be on the road again. When I got back from Acatenango I grabbed lunch, showered, set out all my gear to dry, and then went straight to work to finish up a video project for OX. The video advertises one of their trip departments called “Adventures”. Here you can go on their paragliding, kayaking, or zip-lining trips. This was the final piece to the puzzle, and once it was done, I was ready to head out with my work done and head held high, knowing I completed what I said I wanted to. Big thanks to Chris Hilleke and MiNYCiNe Motion Pictures for shooting awesome video, it made my job of getting to edit it all together a blast.

Here’s the finished product:



The next morning James rocked up to the hostel at 8am ready to ride for the border. We are headed for a couch surfers place in a town just a bit south of the El Salvador border called Chalchuapa. Oh yeah, meet James.



We got moving and stopped for lunch a bit north of the border. Southern Guatemala seems very different than everything further north. Can’t put my finger on it exactly...maybe it’s just less touristy, or maybe it’s the mountainous geography...whatever it is, I like it.





We pushed south towards the El Salvador border through winding roads. The weather was much hotter than what I had been familiar with in Antigua, and the terrain was very different.





It was mountainous, rolling, and empty. We didn’t see very many people, just small quaint communities dotted the areas here and there. The riding was great, and felt like any leisurely Sunday ride back home. Awesome.





We stopped here and there to take in the views. Nobody was around, only a lone car here or there passing through.





We only found a small patch of traffic the whole afternoon.



We had picked a border crossing more or less at random. Whatever roads leading up to it looked best was the route we took, and this was the border crossing that we found at the end of it.



Just two army guards and some guns stood between us and El Salvador. “Is this really all there is? Shit, this is the best border crossing yet!” A quick rummage through our stuff and a curious peek at our passports and we were into El Salvador.



The road after the border crossing was a dirt road through dry arid fincas. Kids came out to watch us ride by and everyone seemed quite confused as to who we were and why we were here. These rural spots are exactly what I came here for. This feels like one of the first times I’m riding what I have been really hoping to find. The area was simply stunning.



We should have known this border crossing was too good to be true. Just a bit further down the road we came across two El Salvadorian army fellows. After stopping us and chatting for a minute they realized we hadn’t gotten any of the necessary documents done. “Wait, you guys don’t have any immigration papers or stamped passports?”....”Uhhh, no...no I guess not. We thought that part was a bit weird didn’t we James?.” They thought this was amusing and then informed us that we had found ourselves in El Salvador illegally.



We obviously had no idea what we were doing, and were just two dudes out enjoying a nice rideabout, not to guys trying to cause trouble. They told us we needed to go back and head to the San Cristobal crossing where we would find a more traveled border post, complete with an immigration office and the whole shebang. They even showed us how to get their on our map. Thanks dudes.



We turned back and headed towards the San Cristobal border. About 30 minutes later we were parked and started our paperwork.



Little did we know, that this crossing would be the slowest one that either of us had experienced to date. The people were nice, and dare I even say helpful...but the process was slower than turning dinosaur bodies into fossil fuels. So we waited.



I tried to get artsy with my new camera...



James got some writing done...



And I tried to finish a book. In general, we whittled away at the hours…



We arrived in the mid afternoon and it was well after dark when we finally got all of our paperwork stamped. Thanks for your patience border crossing people. “Hey James, l got ‘er stamped, let’s get the fuck out of here!”



We rolled into the town of Chalchuapa late at night and we tried to find our couch surfers house. This is small town, yet it seemed that everyone who lived here, had also just arrived today, as not a single person could tell us how to find the cross streets of 6th ave and 4th calle. Eventually we found it and after 4.5 hours at the border and no dinner, we went straight for some street food. The town seemed to have closed up shop for the night, but we did find this place open.



Papoosa’s (spelling?) are the typical food here in El Salvador. It’s like a thick tortilla with whatever you want cooked into it. We had meat, cheese, and beans in ours. We wolfed down 8 of these and 4 drinks, all for the grand total of $3.75. Damn fine food. Oh yeah, it’s the US dollar here in El Salvador.




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Old 02-14-2014, 05:03 PM   #235
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Do you think the U.S Boarder Patrol would show to guys from El Salvador with no papers a map and send and send them on their way?
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Old 02-14-2014, 09:35 PM   #236
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Do you think the U.S Boarder Patrol would show to guys from El Salvador with no papers a map and send and send them on their way?
US Border Patrol: "No paperwork eh? Whelp, I guess we'll just have ta shoot ya.....but, I'll give ya a 10 second head start?!"
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Old 02-14-2014, 10:03 PM   #237
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Late at night and reading along, BAM. I'm hungry now.


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It’s like a thick tortilla with whatever you want cooked into it. We had meat, cheese, and beans in ours.
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Old 02-16-2014, 05:13 AM   #238
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54. Learning To Chillax From The Pros

For our first morning in El Salvador, our host Luis the chiropractor, woke us up with more Pupusas. Thanks keeping the Pupusa train going.



Luis is the only chiropractor in town, and he chose to work here because it’s a small community in need of some help. Sometimes he sees 20 patients in an afternoon, sometimes he sees none. People can’t always pay for the service, but they always give what they can. Someone paid him yesterday with these bananas.



Being new to El Salvador and not having a feel for it, I opted to leave my camera at home while we were out and about. James and I walked around the town and grabbed some afternoon beers, and then lunch in the local park. Luis took us out on the town later that evening and showed us the historical sights and a neat little bar. After getting a feel for the area, there was definitely no need to leave my camera at home. So far, the stereotype of Dangerous El Salvador does not seem to be present here. With general street smarts, this place was perfectly fine, and in my opinion much safer than any of the other cities I’ve been to so far. We stayed another night, and the next morning we packed up and hit the road.





Thanks Luis for the good time, and a nice first introduction to El Salvador.



We looked at a map and decided El Salvador is pretty small, and because we both are digging the vibe and good riding, we want to slow the roll even more and absorb it all. There is a nice looking squiggly road down on the Pacific coast, so we rolled over that way.



The road was nice and windy, even before we got to the beach. Very “ relaxed sunday ride” esque. This seems to be the general feeling here in El Salvador.



Some heavy machinery was present at times.



Dropping out of the hills and down onto the plains, we started heading towards the coastal road.





After a hot minute, we found the ocean and pulled off for a peeksy. I don’t think either of us had seen the Pacific Ocean since Mexico some place. Always awe inspiring for some reason.





A bit further down the road we pulled off for some cheap grub. This area in general seems to be expensive (if you don’t take the effort to look around) and we learn that we are on the gringo surf trail. The existence of laminated menus at the 5 previous shops we stopped at should have indicated this to us. This place though, had none of that pomp, nor a menu...perfect.



We hadn’t eaten yet so we decided to go big. A guy rocked up with a mask and fins in one hand and a wet bag in the other. Fresh fish it is then.



While waiting we met “Cho” from switzerland. Crazy-eyed guy with a passion for finding hard roads around the world via bicicle. Each year he leaves for several months and tours around on his bike. Linking up unfinished routes, or charting new ones. Interesting guy.



Cho’s weapon of choice.



We decided to get a plate of shrimp as well...because...well at this price, why not. Two beers, a whole fish, and a plate of shrimp for $17 total. This was expensive, at $8 per person...but also our first meal of the day, and a metric shit-ton of food.



We drank our beers and ate our food, then decided this might be an interesting area to stay the night in. If we keep riding we’ll be away from the beach in 10 km anyways...man this country is small. We had both decided we wanted to camp more to get a different feel for the cultures we pass through, so we started asking people if they knew anywhere we could camp for the night. After a few minutes of helpful suggestions but dead-ends, we came across a friendly dude at a Tienda, Luis. Luis was straight out of a surf movie, with the accent and care free attitude to boot. Obviously he spoke spanish, but it’s funny how the attitude and language still mirrors the style. Luis said he knew of a place for us, and to just follow him and he’ll take us there. He was on a bicycle so we gave him a tow up the hill as he pointed out where to turn. Where he took us turned out to be his own house. And his spot, was pretty darn amazing.



His “place” just so happens to be on a cliff overlooking the water and beach below.





Absolutely beautiful place.





Growing trees out of coconuts, for added wow factor.



James and I set-up shop down near the edge for the water. Me in my tent, and James giving his gifted hammock a go.



Beautiful piece of property. Luis has been here for 30 years, which as I understand it, is his whole life. His parents live next door and they have had this property for ever it seems. As the area has grown more and more, large houses have moved in hoping to get in on the great surf and easy living that can be found down here. They have clung on to their amazing plot of land, and have continued to live frugally and comfortably, even amongst all the excess that is beginning to surround them. After seeing some of these other houses, they still retain the best spot in my opinion. I can see why they have no interest in leaving.







After sunset we hung out with Luis and his wife Janera.



We had some platanos (like starchy bananas, also called plantains in the states) so Luis showed us how to cook them up on the fire.



Throw a few right over the flames and then wait for the delicious goodness. Turn once for uniformity. Janera cooked us up some bomb El Salvadoran coffee to wash it back with. Mmmmm that’s good.



That night, I may have slept better than most dead people. All I felt throughout the night was the cool ocean breeze, and all I heard were it’s waves crashing on the rocks below. I fell asleep rested, and with not a care in the world.



In the morning I awoke, took a glorious piss off the cliff into the ocean, and marveled at what a perfect spot we had stumbled across purely by chance while chatting with Luis.



James seemed equally relaxed, as he was still comfortably passed out in his hammock.



Beautiful old gnarled tree on the property.



We had no plans for the day, so I retreated back to my tent to basque in the sun and read a bit.



I drifted back to sleep and would only be awoken when the sun had shifted and my cool shade was lost. A slight change in body position and then I was back to sleep. This went on for several hours.



James and I both awoke from our respective chill-caves some time later and went looking for a late brunch. Luis said we can find whatever we need down by the beach, so we walked down there.





We found a lady slanging homemade cow cheese and some tortillas. This will do just fine. Cost was $1.25 for both of us.



We wanted some watermelon to bring back to Luis and his family, along with some juice for letting us stay there. We found both in another tienda further down the road. We also found some ice cream treats. It’s pretty hot here, and they taste pretty delicious.



We sat and ate 4 of them before walking back…



Not much going on in the area, it’s a pretty quiet place.



Stopped off at the beach for a cool down before walking up the hill to Luis’s house.



Luis’s place sits under the last tree out on the point, and my tent sits on the end of the point. Pretty good placement if I must say so myself.



Looking down from his spot, you can watch the surf break and see what’s happening. Surf break is small right now, only good for body boarding.



Back up at Luis’s we crack into the water melon, and we watch for the good waves to start rolling in.



Some decent waves start to break and Luis hops up and walks into the house. He grabs one of his many boards and asks us if we want to go give it a whirl. They are too small for him to go out and play on (he’s won several surf trophy’s, which are proudly on display in his house), but they are perfect right now for us noobs to go get washermachined in. “REally?!” “Siiii tranquillo, mi casa es su casa hombres. Just stay away from the rocks and you’ll be fine.” Could this dude be any more generous?



We come back and it’s late afternoon, just in time to get some chill-out time in.



Luis is a fisherman, he dives down and spear fishes with a mask and fins in the waters out front of his house. He brings in fish mostly, but this time of year he’s bringing in lobster. Sometimes 9-20 lbs of it a day. He uses a very small metal rod with a barb cut into the end, and some short rubber slings attached to the end of it. He dives down 4-5 meters and must get within just a couple feet to get them with the rig he made. The guys is fit as a fiddle. A front is coming in though and he knows these waters well. With the lobster scared into hiding from the storm front, he knows there will be no good hunting for the next 4-5 days. What there will be though, is good surf. Thus is the ebb and flow of his day-to-day life.



His wife cooks up some dinner on the fire. Freshly made tortillas right from the corn grown on their yard.





Throw in some cheese, rice, beans, and a bit of minced onions and tomato, you have a mighty fine meal.



When we eat, so do all the animals. They have several dogs and a gaggle of chickens. All the dogs have food made just for them from the unused meat and any corn stocks left. Smelt pretty good to me boiling away on the fire. Chickens get mashed up corn. Pretty darn good eating.





They also have a pet parrot that lives in the giant tree. It gets fresh fruit and either rice or mais. Parrot has probably the best ‘pet’ parrot life one could ask for. When we sit down to eat he squawks at us until we give him a nibble of what we have.





After spending two nights with Luis and his family, I have a new appreciation for the simple things in life. He has everything that he needs, and James and I both agree, Luis may very well be the most content person either of us have ever met. His generosity to share what little they have with us travelers, is both refreshing and humbling. He seems to always be smiling, and always be talking about something positive. I marked his house in my GPS, and he said we always have a home whenever we want to come back. Catch you guys later, and thanks for teaching us how to “chillax man”.



Here’s a video from our stay there:



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Old 02-17-2014, 02:14 PM   #239
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Luis

Looks like Luis has figured it out!
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Old 02-17-2014, 08:54 PM   #240
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When you come across people like Luis and his wife, you realize the world is a pretty awesome f#$%ing place!

If I've told my kids once, I've told them a thousand times, "People are inherently GOOD." You're trip has proven it in spades!

Thanks for the update. Lovin' each one on its own merit.
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