|The only advice the Lonely Planet gives on getting from Guatemala to El Salvador is to take a tourist shuttle bus to San Salvador. But I want to go to Tacuba, near the Guatemala border, which would mean backtracking, I'm a chicken bus addict (tourist shuttle? Bleah!) and anyway, on the map it looks easy enough:
Antigua to Escuintla, Escuintla to Chiquimulilla , Chiquimulilla to Cuidad Pedro de Alvarado on the Gutamalan side of the border. Cross the border to La Hachadura, La Hachadura to Cara Sucia (= dirty face, what a great name for a town), Cara Sucia to Tacuba. 5 buses, one border, should be able to do it in a day.
Everything went swimmingly till I got over the border and discovered that the road between Cara Sucia and Tacuba, which looks jst fine on my map, is not passable by vehicle. My only option is to go on to Sonsonate for the night and take a different route in the morning. The Lonely Planet says "hot and menacing, Sonsonate isn't a fun place to stay". Damn. At least I'll be there before nightfall- just.
Sonsonate lives up (or is that down?) to expectations. It's two kilometres from the bus station into town, and the shadows are lengthening so I don't want to waste time with the local buses, but the taxi drivers want to charge me 20 dollars. I tell them they're having a laugh and start to say that I'm only going to be paying 10 dollars for a hotel room, so I certainly won't be coughing up 20 bucks for a ten minute taxi ride. But I only get as far as the "10 dollar" bit, they think I'm offering 10 bucks. No, no they say, 18, no less. Not on your nelly.
Fortunately, there's a guy in a pickup near the taxi rank, moonlighting as an unoffical taxi and when he says 3 bucks I don't quibble. The bus is only 25 cents, but like I say, I want to be sorted before dark, so I hop in the back of the pickup and off we go.
Once I've dropped my bags at the hotel, food is the next priority. Are there any restaurants nearby? No, they say, but you can get a sandwich in the main square two blocks that way. Hmmm. I'm in the centre of town and there aren't any restarants? Nice place. All around the square there are stalls, permanent structures of wood and corrugated iron, and the shops all seem deserted, as though the local economy can't support them. People stare at me, guess they don't see too many gringos around here. It's over 30 degrees. "Hot and menacing". Yup.
There are lots of food stalls, but the chicken and rice that was probably good and tasty earlier in the day looks very tired and unattractive now. In any case I still haven't really got my appetite back after that stomach bug incident in Guatemala. So I buy some water, bread and bananas (grand total about 65 cents) and head back to the hotel.
I feel rotten. I've been gaily swinging my pack on and off buses one-handed all day and I think I've pulled something around my ribs on the right hand side. Anyway, it hurts like hell when I breathe in. Then I brained myself on a safety rail I didn't see when I jumped into that pickup at the bus station. At the time it felt like I'd compressed my neck by about an inch and it all aches now. Worst of all, there's something else. My kidneys ache, there's a bad taste in my mouth no matter how many times I brush my teeth and I'm starting to get chills. Hope I'm not going down with something. Still, there's nothing I can do now. I'm in probably the best hotel room Sonsonate has to offer, with a cold shower, fan and -I paid an extra 4 dollars for this- a TV, so I couldn't be more comfortable. So while I eat supper, I watch the Discovery Channel, which teaches me the Spanish for duck-billed platypus, and then I doze off in front of Law and Order.