It’s A Playa Amore

Los Cóbanos – El Salvador

Two buses and a couple hours later we jumped off the bus in Los Cóbanos, a tiny little fishing village. There was just the one road that stopped about 200 meters away from what google maps said was our hotel.

We checked in at the last restaurant on the road and, as it turns out, that road no longer exists and lucky us, we had to finish our journey (500 metres or so) along the beach, with our packs, and the boiling hot sun.

We had a few stares as we hiked up the beach, which I believe this to be due to the fact we both had our massive packs on our backs, our small day packs on our fronts, i was drenched in sweat and we were walking on the softest sand in our runners which was a bloody disaster.

We finally reached our hotel, threw our bags into the dorm room which we had to ourselves in fact we had the whole hotel to ourselves. No other tourists in sight anywhere. We jumped into the little pool to cool off.

Once we had cooled off we tried to find some food but this place was a ghost town. There were a few comidors but we were too late for lunch. We went for a stroll along the beach, which was as expected; the current looked strong and the breaks harsh. There were a few people swimming in the shallows and the boats were starting to return from their day out fishing. Some of the fish the fishermen where pulling off these boats were very impressive.

Fishing Boats @ Los Cóbanos Beach

Los Cóbanos is also a dive/snorkel area, and it turned out that our hotel was a PADI dive center, but we decided against any diving here due to the sea conditions not being the best and also the photos of the sea life/coral etc was not that exciting compared to what we had just seen, and were about to see in the following few months. Also no one at the hotel even mentioned diving to us, or anything in fact. So far it was more of a if you don’t ask for specific things you really won’t get anything. It wasn’t the most welcoming place in all honesty.

We had dinner at our hotel that night, which was a lucky choice being that there was nothing else at all open for dinner. We walked along the beach front in the dark only to be met by stares and closed comedors. We had our place to ourselves and, as it turned out, the chef was amazing. We had the fish and the garlic prawns, both were cooked to perfection and probably the best seafood we have had on this trip. While we were eating we met the in house Cat, Estrella, who sat rather impatiently begging for fish. As she gently pawed at our legs and looked very sweet we gave in and fed her prawn heads and tails (the actual meat was far too good to waste on a cat no matter how cute she was.

Estrella El Gato @ Los Cóbanos Lodge

Again, much like with a lot of smaller less visited places in El Salvador, there is very little information available for tourists about them. That and we had no internet so couldn’t look anything up. Luckily in the dorm bathroom there was a little poster of a couple of things to do written by the owners (as like most owners of tourist establishments in El Salvador at this time of year, we assumed to be away on holiday). After reading about “playa de amor” beach, we managed to squeeze some directions out of the not overly chatty staff and spent a couple of hours soaking up some sun and the ocean, then back to the pool for the afternoon. Walking around during the day felt much nicer than the night before, locals were friendly and actually spoke to us instead of just staring. To get to Playa de Amor we walked through an abandoned area that looked like it used to be a hotel with a big pool. We also walked through a families home. It actually looked like they were kind of squatting in some very basic and open abandoned concrete structure. They looked really very poor but the did somehow have cable tv. They were lovely and didn’t mind us walking through their place. Playa de Amor had a turtle breeding centre (not currently in use), but there were guys fixing up a roof. It looked like when in season it would have been great.

That night we repeated dinner with our new friend Estrella, whom only seemed to want to know us when we had food. Typical fickle cat. We went back to Playa de Amor to watch a beautiful cloudy sunset.

Sunset @ Playa De Amor

Sunset @ Playa De Amor

The next morning we headed to the bus stop, this time via a road that we had passed when we first arrived. A young guy on a moped drove past us and whistled and stared. He then turned around and came back and asked for a photo. We politely declined, he somehow seemed a bit shocked and drove off, fair play to him, he did ask very politely. A few minutes later a couple of the guys came by in a Ute and offered us a lift into Sonsonate- Brilliant! They were super friendly, as were practically all the people we had met in El Salvador. They worked for/owned “Simmer Down” which was a restaurant we had been to in Santa Ana that was now also in Sonsonate.

We stopped at a mall to get some toiletries etc before we headed into Costa Rica the next day. While we were sitting having a coffee, a young school kid came

up, waved and said hi, then returned to his group of friends who had recorded him. It’s funny coming to places that don’t see many tourists, everyone is super friendly but at the same time not realising that they, and their whole group are staring at us like we are aliens.

We arrived in San Salvador, met another wonderfully lovely man, who despite having absolutely no healthy teeth, he not only helped us with the most specific instructions to get to the airport bus station, but stopped traffic and helped us to cross the road. People in El Salvador are wonderful, and so grateful for people travelling their country, they LOVE hearing how beautiful their country is and how much we enjoy being here.

We luckily grabbed a couple of the last seats on a minibus to the airport, before Alice gave hers up to an elderly gentleman who practically fell asleep on my shoulder. Forty minutes and 100 people over capacity later we were dropped at the door of our hotel for the night. We had previously organised with the hotel for the cheapest room, a small bed but fine for one night, especially with an early morning start we didn’t really care; just wanted the best deal.

The hotel had mucked up so put us in a huge room with two double beds, aircon and a tv. We were in heaven. The meal at the hotel that night was average at best but we packed up, had an early night and headed to the airport at 5am.

We have had to fly to Costa Rica due to the political mess that is Nicaragua, and the day before we booked flights, a young boy had been killed in more “peaceful protests”. Really very sad. The situation seems to unfortunately be getting worse.

An hour and a half flight and we landed in Panama City airport, where we had 6 hours to kill. We did a bit of duty free shopping, got a new deep water case for the GoPro ready for our next diving adventure, grabbed some coffees and lunch and before we knew it we were running to our gate as we had lost track of time!

Next stop, Costa Rica!! Cannot wait to see my first sloth, and back into early morning bird watching, yay……

El Salvador, you were a diamond in the rough. El Salvador receives so much bad press about the dangerous gang violence and how the country as a whole is a very dangerous place to be. We experienced some of the nicest, most helpful people everywhere we went. Yes there are dangers, but the people here are so grateful when you look past the exaggerated risk of how you will be caught up in gangs every time you turn a corner, and take the time and money to explore this wildlife rich, vast and beautiful country.

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