Our bus arrived into the capital, San Salvador. We took a taxi straight away out of there to Sunzal, near La Libertad on the coast. We got dropped off at the Surfer’s Inn, where we were very warmly greeted by Antonio and his wife. For $6 each we got a simple but large private room. This became our new home for the next 2 weeks. It was just a 5 minute walk to the rocky beach with the main point break. We hired surfboards and went out almost every day. The almost was because of some huge waves for a couple of days, up to an estimated 12 foot. That wasn’t enough to stop Joz going for a paddle though. It was generally good, particularly in the mornings before the wind chopped it up, but the weekends were too crowded and I could hardly catch a wave.
Obviously the next logical step after Cuba is Nicaragua. Dasha and I flew into Managua, jumped on the internet at the airport and started doing some research about the place. We read lots of warnings about how dangerous the country is and particularly not to share taxis with other people – ok, that’s good to know. Our search for cheap accommodation was not going well. The information desk didn’t speak English, but much worse than that, they didn’t have any information! A taxi driver was paying me plenty of attention so I thought I would see if he could be of any assistance. Eventually information found me a phone number for the hostel I wanted to stay at. I called them, they had plenty of space and our mate the taxi driver drove us there. Nice place with a kitchen, swimming pool and wifi – back in civilisation! We walked down to the food court. It was horrible. Full of every American franchise you could imagine. I can’t believe the atrocious effect America has on surrounding countries who imagine one day living the American dream.
Everybody in Negril tries to sell you something, Danny from the local market was no exception. He got a bit excited when I said I was going to Montego Bay that afternoon because he lived there and would be driving home in a few hours. I told him I would only pay $6, the same as the taxi fare. After some time he accepted. It worked out really well for me, only having to take one car from door to door instead of 3 taxis. I stayed the first 2 nights at Bethel Court Guesthouse (hostel), $20 for a dorm. Was a nice friendly atmosphere. I checked out the yacht club and put up a notice, hoping to find a captain sailing to Cuba in a few weeks time. I’m not the biggest fan of the yacht club scene. It seems that yachties hardly leave the marina complex and their impression of a city or even country can be based on such a small area. Of course the prices are inflated too.
Got up at 6.15 to get to the airport. Was going ok until we arrived in Kingston. There were 4 Russian guys, well behaved, but minimal English. At least one immigration officer walked off with each of them, leaving no one at the desks. The queue didn’t like this. I’ve never seen so much yelling and arguing going on at immigration before. After a delayed flight and a long queue, immigration wasn’t happy that I didn’t have an address to stay at. He sent me to the information office, who let me use their computer for half an hour to ‘find it’. I was worried immigration would give me a hard time and check my flights, quite the opposite, just waved me straight through.
We weren’t sad about leaving Antigua. From sailors and people we had spoken to, a little island nation called Dominica, very often confused with the Dominican Republic, sounded much more like our kind of paradise.
We knew we were getting close – we could smell it. Still miles from the island, the smells of flowers were drifting out across the ocean. After 25 days and 8 hours we arrived in English Harbour, Antigua. White sand beaches, palm trees, rum and Rastafarians. A tropical paradise…
Another short flight and we were descending toward Gran Canaria. From here the picture was not at all what we were expecting. A green tropical paradise it most definitely was not. It is a brown, dry, harsh, rocky Island, generally peaked at the centre and tapering down in all directions. Our primary reason, however, was not for a tropical holiday, or in fact to explore the island at all. We were staying in Las Palmas with the intention of hitch hiking on a boat across the Atlantic to the Caribbean.