Florida to Nicaragua Road Trip #8: Ratalhuleu, Guatemala to Playa El Zonte, El Salvador

Dear Reader,

Yesterday was rough. Our five-hour delay at the Guatemala border and then the horrific Guatemalan roads along CA-2 kicked our butts.

John was so anxious that he announced last night that we were going to hit the road at first light this morning and would just get our coffee and breakfast along the way. I did not like that idea. CA-2 is not an easy road to find coffee and breakfast along the way.

As it was, all night we heard traffic going by. (I was too cranky and tired last night to remember to spray our lavender mist on our pillows to help us sleep like I’ve done every night. How stupid was that?!) Rushing off at first light was not going to make any difference in our favor.

Thankfully, the hotel’s restaurant was open at 6:00 so we could at least get some coffee to go. And then magic happened, in the form of a waitress. While negotiating how I wanted our insulated travel mugs to be filled with coffee and milk (requesting one teaspoon of sugar raised alarm and disbelief; acquiescing to two teaspoons brought such a smile from her that I knew I was elevated to a sane person again) turned my night’s frown into a smile in two seconds flat. She made me happy again and brought the joy rushing back into travel. She also scored one of our Starbucks travel mugs, which I foolishly left behind while I was busy taking her picture. May she enjoy it for years to come. We also sat down and ate breakfast. It was a really good breakfast.

And so, the day began well. We’d been spiritually and physically fed.

We drove through the rest of Guatemala. The roads were bad bad bad. The drivers were bad bad bad. We survived. And got the hell out.

The potholes are so bad that kids and adults are out filling some of them in with dirt and whatever in exchange for coins which they hope will get tossed out to them. One woman was doing a dance as she held out a hat for coins. She was laughing and made me laugh too.

We arrived at the Guatemala-El Salvador border midday. We always thought that first thing in the morning was the best time to cross the border but yesterday we noticed when we were still at the Mexico-Guatemala border around noon after our early morning start, that it quiets down around noon. And sure enough, that’s what we found today.

It was super easy to leave Guatemala, with everything in one building. Well, except for needing some copies from a Photocopy shop across the street and they didn’t have any ink but directed me to an office down the street that did and the office people were even willing to make my copies, albeit grudgingly while they were in the middle of eating their lunches at their desks.

It was also super easy to enter into El Salvador and to get our vehicle permit, although they did want to go through several! of our bags in the back of the truck so we had to unload a bit, and they did write down on the permit that we have two kayaks on top. We’ll have to see how that’s going to play out!

And then we were in El Salvador! Where they use the American Dollar as their currency. And where the roads are good! Hooray. Hooray.

Suddenly John was doing 50 mph, instead of the 15, 20, 30 of Guatemala. Sure, there were still potholes but not the size of bathtubs. And sure there were aggressive drivers but nobody was passing three deep. John even started humming. Even when the road looked like this:

The people and streets were colorful. (

(By the way, that’s Moose, our mascot, on the windshield. He kind of got turned sideways. He’s usually looking straight ahead and leading the way. He’s quite the adventurer too, having traveled with us since we backpacked the 450-mile Colorado Trail from Denver to Durango in the year 2000.)

And then we came to our lodging for the night. Above is the street and to the right is the entrance to our hotel.

This was the view while we ate dinner at the hotel’s restaurant’s upstair’s seating: Laundry washing, bathing and family time in the river feeding into the sea.

In contrast to western hotel motif:

John is snoring while the Seahawks football drones away on the radio, over the internet. I think I’ll let him sleep. The lavender spray must have done the trick. Tomorrow we’ll wake up and have the complementary breakfast at seven and then be on our way. tonight I’m a happy camper. Just two more borders to cross – Honduras and Nicaragua. Geez, I can almost taste home.

We are alive.

We are healthy.

We are adventurers.




  1. Maria Eugenia Sastre says:

    WOW que aventureros!!!Yo nunca he ido América Central -solo a Mexico y hace anos! Como llegaste ? Me imagino q guiando desde Estados Unidos. Me alegro q esten en Nicaragua. Dicen q es precioso! El libro q te habia mencionado es El Pais Bajo Mi Piel de Gioconda Belli. A mi me encanto. Bueno te felicito : tus blogs son muy interesantes. Van a ir a Panama? Mi nieta ha ido muchas veces y le encanto. Dicen q en Nicaragua hay mucho trabajo en madera precioso. Sera verdad? Mi telefono es 787 366 0016.

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