(March 5 – written by Dave)
We finally made it to the ocean and it is great. But before we get there, a few comments about the hotel last night. Nancy tried to first negotiate brekkie out of the price, then she tried to negotiate getting brekkie for dinner. She was pretty sure that she got the later but was confused when the woman asked what time. Well, at 6PM, just the time that Nancy said, the woman knocked on our door and dropped off to lovely egg, bean and fried banana dinners (brekkies), accompanied by a glass of orange juice. Nice job on the negotiations Nancy – free dinner with door to door delivery.
Overall, you could say it was an eclectic hotel, as nothing matched and several generations of fit-out/upgrade had left a hodgepodge feel (well, maybe upgrade is too strong of a word – the bright green wall colors and very dim lighting was making it a bit hard to see). But having said that, the woman running the place really was trying hard to make our stay pleasant and overall, we’d give the place a solid “OK” score (travelling on a bike and relative to our other hotels – it would probably be a bit of a shock for those with more ‘Western’ standards).
We were up a little later today as we had a short day planned. Today was the day that we were heading back to the ocean, after last seeing it in Mazatlan, Mexico. We could tell from the route profile and wiggly road line, we were likely to get some kind of coastal views, but we weren’t sure – it could have been one of those “ocean hiding behind a sand dune” like routes as well.
But before we reached the twisty road, we had to navigate the last bits of sugarcane growing country. For the first 25k we saw all heights of sugarcane, some just getting started and some being whacked down by guys with machetes. That’s right, they still cut cane here by hand. It is clearly backbreaking work but judging from the number of folks tackling one field, they have no trouble getting workers. A little further up the road, we saw a mechanical cutting machine in use as well. Clearly a win for people’s backs but nowhere near the number of jobs are created. We saw lots of cane hauling trucks as well. Though today, they were single trailer mostly – given the nature of the twisty roads no doubt.
Eventually we made it to the sea. We could smell it before we saw it and knew we were getting close. I’m happy to report that we didn’t have dunes, but rather we had cliffs and headlands. The later makes for better views, but a lot more up and down riding. Our pace slowed as it started to warm up so we decided that morning tea at a view restaurant was in order. Fresh squeezed orange juice and a couple hot-off-the-grill corn tortillas – perfect. Oh yeah, the views were great as well.
We had 18k to ride at this point to reach our planed stop – El Zonte. It was starting to really heat up now – sorry friends in the USA – it was 40C, or just short of 100F. We were really sweating going up the hills at this point. We reached El Zonte just before noon and pretty quickly found the hotel that we were targeting. Too bad it only had one room that didn’t look very nice.
It was my day to do the motel search so off I went trying to find something more acceptable. I tried the fancy eco-lodge – nice room but no window or view of the ocean for $95. So I tried the surf lodge – ok room but kind of off the beach and basically a construction zone. Next was the backpackers hostel – no rooms but camping for $5 – just a wee bit warm to contemplate the tent. Last chance was the D’Takito Horizonte Surf Hotel (at least we think that’s what it is called, we can’t really see a sign anywhere). They had one room, up on the second floor with surround windows, a cold shower (which sounded good) and private bath. They even offered a discount as we looked at the room – without us asking – sold.
We’ve spent the afternoon hanging out on our small deck overlooking the sea. We can just make out the folks surfing. I got motivated enough to go take some photos as well. I have too many photos today but it seems like the thing to do – that is post a bunch of “fun in the sun” photos when so many of our friends in the northern hemisphere are suffering through snow and cold. Don’t worry guys, the sun is coming – in a few months!
I convinced the gals working the kitchen to make us some pancakes so we can have sandwiches to eat riding tomorrow. There is very little in the way of food down here at El Zonte (plenty to drink for the surfers however!). We headed to the eco lodge for dinner – the food was nice, the scenery fantastic.
Tomorrow we head to Zacatecoluca or maybe just beyond there. We’ll see if the hostel next door keeps us up with a rowdy party – there are some strange smells wafting over the wall. We are planning another early start to beat the heat – I know, I’ve probably mentioned the heat a few too many times in this post – sorry.