Misty Mountains & Memory Miles (road trippin’ in Honduras & El Salvador)

My dad and sister have been visiting for the last week (they leave tomorrow but I’m thinking of hijacking their passports — as we speak, dad is helping Jon install challenging boat projects and Jess is sharing her frozen lemonade with me while us girls do computer work… does it *get* any better than that?!?!). Aside from the obvious perks — peanut butter, Valentine’s chocolate, engine parts, and good company!! — the big bonus has been a huge inland trip. We don’t always get away from the coast, so this was an awesome opportunity to put some miles down and see sights that we’d otherwise never have a chance to 🙂

Tropical flowers in Bahia del Sol

There are so many mini-stories from our 4-day adventure — like the rental van breaking down 2 hours into the trip and me dragging out my favourite ‘sometimes cars just don’t start’ (which really is true. especially in this case — if we stopped after driving for 2+ hours, the van just wouldn’t start… but if we let it cool down for a 25 minutes, then *presto*, away it would go again!) which is not very reassuring but is better than trying to find a tow truck in El Salvador…

Stupid red van rental car KIA

Or driving up the loooong road to “Cerro Verde”, a coffee-plantation-covered volcano with views of “Lago Coatepeque” (a lake in the middle of a volcano crater) and discovering that when they say “hiking is popular” they really mean “it’s hard to see anything from the parking lot and the trail is definitely *not* wheelchair accessible!” and feeling sad for a minute because the misty fog was so dense… but then cheering like fools when the clouds parted and we got the most amazing view of the volcano beside us and Jon took pictures of me piggy-backing Jess with the volcano in the background and we were all happy…

Cerro Verde, El Salvador

Volcano peak, El Salvador

Piggy-backing pics

Or arriving in Santa Ana, a gorgeous University town in the highlands of El Salvador, at 5:30pm, uncertain of where our hostel was but navigating by the ever-faithful Kindle and the Lonely Planet to Central America map, and discovering a SKETCHY looking little road with a giant green door… and no answer. But tracking down Carlos (who works in the hardware store across the street, donchaknow) and who was one of those amazing characters that can talk a mile-a-minute at you in full-blow Spanish but somehow simultaneously make you feel like you’re understanding everything he’s saying and he’s your new best friend and YES you do want some tetra-pack wine, and sure you’ll take a dinner recommendation too (which turns out to be the.most.delicious pizza ever, right off the town square beside the beautiful cathedral and across from the city hall… keep this in mind in case you ever find yourself in Santa Ana!).

Casa Verde, Santa Ana, El Salvador - Paradise!

Cowboy on a motorcycle

Leah & Jon in Santa Ana, in front of the cathedral

Or getting turned away from the Guatemala border because the rental company only wrote down “Honduras” on our international papers, resulting in an 11-hour detour drive through mist-filled Honduras mountains on pot-hole-ridden roads, ending with 2 hours of pitch. friggin. black driving on said roads where Jess, Jon and I would take turns yelling “pot hole!”, “speed bump!”, “people!!”, “crazy wild cow!!!” to dad as he derby-swerved and passed and somehow kept us on the road, safe and alive.

getting turned away

Amazing mountains of Honduras

Coffee growing in Honduras

Amazing mountains of Honduras

Jon's favourite Honduran chicken

Amazing mountains of Honduras

Misty mountains and a horse

Or waking up on Valentine’s day to rain so loud it was almost deafening — but in that cool “I’m tucked inside a warm hostel bed so I don’t have to worry about it” way, and being presented with Purdey’s chocolates from Vancouver (have I mentioned my family is the best???), and eating breakfast while we enquired whether any of us had packed a rain-coat (dad had… nobody else had thought to) and worrying about what it would be like to explore the Copan Ruins in a tropical downpour… but then as we got in the super-van and drove the couple kilometres to the ruins, the clouds parted (dutchman’s pants!) and the sun broke through and the air was clear and we walked in to the ruins with a burst of scarlet-red macaws flying overhead, welcoming us back in time to this amazing Mayan site…

Jess in the Copan Ruins hostel - Viavia

copan breakfast

Bird drying its wings on the way to the ruins

Scarlet macaws showing off

My fav trio on valentine's day

Us in the ruins

Hello ruins of Copan!

Sisters with the hieroglyphic staircase

Sunlight on the Hieroglyphic staircase

Copan Ruins

Or Jess getting packed up to the top of the Copan Ruins on dad’s back, Jon carrying her chair, me carrying everyone’s various electronic devices (we don’t travel light: cameras, iPads, phones, you name a photo-capturing-device, we had it with us :P) and being presented with a vista that none of us will soon forget…

jess getting packed around by dad

Copan Ruins

Trio on the ruins

jon the photographer in copan

Copan Ruins

Leah with the Copan Ruins

Close up of skulls on the ruins

Jess in the museum wheelying

And then reversing the 11-hour drive, coming back down those jaw-droppingly beautiful Honduran mountains, stopping for a “pollo” lunch at a hole-in-the-wall, crossing back in to El Salvador, getting hopelessly, ridiculously, frighteningly lost, in the dark, in San Salvador (that is not a city you want to drive in — after an hour of driving in circles in sketchy streets we finally stopped at a gas station and I asked somebody if we could take a certain road home that seemed logical and he said “oh no, no, no, that is a very confusing road that is more than a little dangerous, don’t take it” so instead we paid a guy $10 to lead us to the highway that we’d been hunting for all night and I so happily would have paid $100 to be out of that city it’s not even funny!), and then… it was all over.

As quickly as they arrived, they’ve gone… and I miss them so much already.

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– LMK

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