The early morning flight to Oslo landed at 7am, so with a bottle of Absolut in tow I grabbed the bus to Oslo city centre. I had heard Oslo was expensive but feck me the bus was more expensive than the flight over! I managed to dodge the rain and make it to the hostel where I met Sam. We dumped our stuff and went for a stroll around the city taking in the main sites, such as the infamous Beer Palace. We grabbed some dinner, dabbled in Absolut and then headed out for a night on the tiles. Given the fact a beer costs €12, the night wasn’t too crazy and we were back home by 2am (respectable for Europe) for a few hours’ sleep before the transatlantic flight. I’d be lying if I said I have felt worse than when that alarm went off. My lord!
Once I was through immigration at Miami Airport, I hopped on the Tri Rail to head across to Fort Lauderdale where our hostel was located. The heavens absolutely opened en route and FLL was a wash out! I eventually arrived at the hostel after a couple hours trek, checked in and had a quick nap. After a few minutes I noticed that the clientele of the hostel were a bit different from the norm. The room consisted of a 60 year old woman, a transsexual, a stoned American, Sam and I. Living the dream! Once Sam arrived the plan was to head out for the night but with the weather still awful we headed to the Taco Shack for some beers and Mexican food before calling it a night.
We were up early for cycling on beach front the following morning and grabbed breakfast en route. “Would you like your eggs sunny side up?” After a few hours cycling around we had a kick around the beach, before grabbing some showers and making our way to the airport for our late flight to San Salvador with Spirt Airlines. The scene at the airport was a bit like what I can only imagine Ryanair check in and boarding looked like in the late 90’s. Bodies, bags and people complaining everywhere. As we were checking in, they told us we couldn’t’ fly unless we had a return flight from El Salvador (we had flights from Honduras back), so we were forced to buy more flights with the option of cancelling them within 24 hours…madness. But we were on our way!
Spirit touched down late at 2am in San Salvador. We had chatted to some locals on couchsurfing who offered to pick us up from the airport and take us out for a night on the town. I don’t think they were too impressed with us being 2 hours late, but they were super friendly on the 1 hour trip to the capital sharing some stories about the city. They dropped us off at the hostel, where Sam had a kip and I headed out to the local club with them. I was the only gringo in the place. Needless to say my salsa moves were no use in comparison to the locals. But I gave it some welly. The girls dropped me back at 6am and I got a couple of hours sleep before checking out and heading for a rice and chicken breakfast beside the bus station. We both waited outside the station until the local chicken bus whizzed by and we hopped on and squeezed into a few seats. The 2 hour bus was great craic, with the local tunes blaring throughout. We arrived in La Libertad mid-afternoon and quickly found the next bus to El Tunco and were on the beach in no time.
El Tunco is a well-known surf spot on the west coast of El Salvador, with huge waves and big parties on the weekend. Unfortunately we arrived on a Sunday so many of the locals had just left. We found a hostel pretty easily, dropped off our things and headed down the beach for some lunch and sun.
The place was lovely but quite deserted so we decided a few beers and dinner were a better choice. We gorged on the local dish of Papusa which is absolutely delish! After we asked some locals for the liveliest spot and headed there for the night. Well we knew we were in trouble as soon as the group of 15 American lads got up and started playing limbo for half an hour. Needless to say, we high tailed it for a quiet night in!
So 5 minutes later I was sitting on the beach with feet like Padre Pio wondering what the feck was going on. So I swallowed my pride (along with a litre of seawater) and headed back to the hostel to tend to my wounds. We drowned our sorrows with some beer at dinner and called it a night early as we had a bus to Nicaragua the following day.
We left at 7am for an awesome bus journey crossing both the Honduran and Nicaraguan borders during the 10 hour trek to Leon. Our mini bus consisted of a group of English girls, a stoned German and a mad Swiss lady. En route we bought a bottle of the local Flor de Cana and everyone were best mates by the end of the journey!
We checked in at 6pm and went straight out to see what Leon had to offer. There was a beach party a few miles from the town so we hopped on a bus to get down there with a bunch of backpackers. The party itself was good craic until I went for a dip in the pool only to clamber out to find some fecker has nicked my shoes! Penny’s finest and all! So I tip toed home avoiding broken glass bottles successfully.
We were up early enough the next morning for Volcano boarding. Leon is famed for being the only place in the world to offer semi safe volcano boarding to the masses. After a one hour hike up the volcano getting nicely burnt on the way we donned our orange jump suits before speeding down the side of the volcano. Nice and filthy after, we jumped on the bus and headed back to the town for some chilling by the pool. After dinner we decided to give a salsa bar the go, which was good craic for about 20 minutes until I began walking all over the Nicaraguan girl’s feet and I was promptly placed on the substitute’s bench beside the dance floor. Time to call it a night!
We were up early the next day to watch the United game and then headed down the beach for some chilling and ended up playing a huge football game with the local kids which was good craic. When we got back to the hostel, a local Nicaraguan band was setting up so we were treated to a mixture of English and local tunes for a few hours. At about 8pm the heavens opened, the electricity went and the mountain was plunged into darkness. But the band played on and it turned out to be an unreal night under the stars. A proper Irish sing song!
By 4pm most of the people had retired to bed but we were grand, so we headed to bar number 3, which was down the beach for some serious dance offs with the locals. I ended up partying with a group of locals on the beach until the early hours before heading back up the mountain to the hostel just in time for breakfast!
We checked out and headed down the town to get our shuttle bus to the capital Managua. The driver was full of the chats and even gave his opinion of the Troubles in Northern Ireland! The hostel in Managua was lovely but there is not a whole lot to do in the city itself. Good job we were only there a night! We got some local food (Pizza Hut) and chilled by the pool for the night before hitting the leaba for a few hours’ sleep before getting up at 4am for our trek to San Pedro Sula in Honduras.
The hostel owner dropped me to the airport at 10pm which gave me plenty of time to catch the flight. The lad checking in seemed more interested in Ireland than asking security questions which was gas. Just as I was boarding I was hit with a $40 departure tax…dear lord! But I was finally on my way to Miami again, all be it after a 2 hour delay.
I touched down in Miami at 5am in Fort Lauderdale and trekked my way across town to Miami International airport to drop my bags off for the day as my flight was not until 8pm. I think I met more crazy people in the space of 15 hours in Miami than I did in the whole of the previous 2 weeks. They ranged from a woman telling me to pick all my shit up, to a man on an escalator trying to sell me his watch, to a man in a business suit asking me to buy him a chicken wing. Complete bonkers!
Although short but sweet, both El Salvador and Nicaragua have a lot to offer. The locals are super friendly and eager to share some of their nation’s history with you. Add that to the numerous activities, beaches and parties up and down the coast and it’s easy to see why more and more people are choosing Central America as a THE backpacking destination.