Friday, March 30, 2012

Driving down from Canada

Mark Chillin at Dan's beach house

I recently met someone over the internet who was visiting El Salvador and is from my old city of Toronto. Unlike the many hundreds of Canadians who come down by charter flights to stay at the Royal Decameron Salinitas Resort, Marco drove down!

Never thought I would see Ontario plates in El Salvador

Yes, in a finely tuned Nissan Xterra, Marco has made his way from Toronto to St. Louis then down into Mexico, all over and up to Merida, Belize, Guatemala and El Salvador. Even more amazingly, he plans to drive through the rest of Central America and into South America and down to Tierra del Fuego.

Lunch of sopa de patas and fresh lemonade for me and tamales y bebida ensalada for him

If I can, I am hoping to meet up with him in Santiago de Chile for the drive down to the point and then back up to Buenos Aires. Or maybe Santiago, through the Mendoza wine country, and across to BA which would be much slower. But Patagonia sounds nice as well as seeing penguinos.

Diego "El Muerto" taking a time out from chasing girls to have post surf beers with us

At El Tunco. Pretty good food and giant beers too!

Mark almost skipped El Salvador due to the bad reputation that it has. He ended up staying 60 days here! I showed him Tunco and we got a surf lesson from “El Muerto”, went to the Korean restaurant, had lunch in the market, had him over for dinner, and hung out at Dan’s club smoking cigars and drinking a lot of beer (and tequila for him). He crashed at our place off and on when our place emptied of family visiting from Canada. Spent many evenings watching House Hunters International on HGTV.

Indian food with Mariem and Jesse at our place

Marco said that a lot of people are doing this trip and there is a lot of info on the internet about practicalities and nice places to visit. Plus there are people hitchhiking their way down to South America! He mentioned that he drove someone in from Guatemala who only had a small backpack and no money and dropped him off at the junction of the Sonsonate highway and the coastal road. In the dark, at night.

Delicious Korean food at the Pabelion Coreano in Merliot

You can follow his blog at

Overate at the churrascaria Faisca do Brasil in the Hotel Intercontinental

I am quite pleased that he liked this country. Like my friend Michael from Antigua, he felt very comfortable very quickly here. The city is quite compact so it is easy to move around in the nice areas (San Benito, Escalon, Santa Tecla, and Antiguo Cuscutlan). And lots of cafĂ©’s restaurants and bars. I should mention that he got into two scrapes with his truck. He had insurance and cattle guards on his truck which saved him from having to get body work done. One was a bus that cut in front of him and scraped his front in a roundabout ... probably from someone in right lane swerving three lanes to the left to make a turn.

He stayed at the Hostal Australia for $20 per night with parking, breakfast and internet included. The place is on 1ra Calle Poniente which is just beside Escalon and half a block below the roundabout at Beethovern.

I was sad to see him go but he finally moved on and has been to Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

One of the reasons he stayed 60 days in country. Drinking beers at the Rinconcito Karaoke at 3:00 am.

He has motivated me to do the San Salvador to Flores/Tikal to Tulum to Merida drive. That would be a great road trip.


  1. After 27 years living in Australia, it is very interesting to re-live all of my little El Salvador's idiosyncrasies. Keep enjoying it for all of us who can't.

  2. Hey Yuri, glad to hear that someone is reading this blog! So you are a Salvadoran that emigrated to Australia? What part? Hope life is good to you out there and that you will have a chance to visit El Salvador and drink a cold beer while watching the surfers at Tunco or Sunzal.

    1. Hi Jay, my life in Melbourne is not what it used to be as an 18 year old back in 1985 in Soyapango, is that a dirty word or what? As you can imagine, life has become too busy to enjoy the waves down under, plus the water is so cold down here. I was lucky enough to return last year for a couple of weeks, and left with mixed feelings. Happy to compare notes and ask you about Canada, where my cousing lives, in Alberta. Have a mango con chile for me please. Yuri

    2. Hey Yuri,yes Soyapango has gotten more and more dangerous. My girlfriend grew up there and I used to stay at her place in the late 90's. Now if I go there, it is only during the day and behind darkly tinted windows. It is really too bad but I think the country on the whole is improving. I grew up in Toronto but don't like the cold any more so am very happy to be living in San Salvador.

  3. Good to hear all this info. I would like to do the drive. I spent time with Marco in Costa Rica where I have retired. It's amazing to see and hear the stories.

  4. What a small world, you seeing Marco in CR. Hope you had a chance to have a beer with him and to watch him dance.

  5. Hi - fell into your blog and thought you might be interested in this place - we rented it for part of Semana Santa (I'm Canadian living in ES) - owners are from Edmonton, of all places. El Espino is off the beaten track, but we found it relaxing: The house is spotless, and the caretakers will cook for you, if you're lazy (-:

    1. Thanks for the link. I'll take a look at it. Always looking for a nice beach house to rent. Did you look at my blog entry from last year? My friends rented this gorgeous beach house near Barra de Santiago (past Acajutla) and I would rent it every weekend if it wasn't $500 a night!

  6. Nice and interesting your site :)