January 21, 2019
From Guatemala City, Guatemala to San Salvador, El Salvador
There is a stark difference between the roads and society in Guatemala and El Salvador
While inspecting my motorcycle prior to leaving Guatemala City, I noticed that my rear right and front left turn signals were not working. Since signally is an important part of riding safely, I made my way to the BMW Motorcycle dealership in the city. As I got there, I was advised that the mechanics were working earlier in the morning and would not be back until tomorrow. I thought this was extremely odd, but this isn’t Canada or the USA, so it may be the norm here.
I decided to venture off before I wasted more daylight, and would try to get the light issue fixed at my next destination.
I went through the border process without the help of the many men who converge on any gringo looking person. The big BMW motorcycle is a sure giveaway that I’m a foreigner. I shooed them away and dealt when the many steps required on the Guatemala side and then the El Salvador side. It felt good doing it alone, however, it was a long wait on the l Salvador side to get the travel authorization for the motorcycle. While waiting there, I spent a lot of idle time just talking with other travellers and watching a pack of dogs fighting with each other. One dog who laid down near me was panting so hard that he looked like he was taking his last breaths. He kept licking his scrotum which was cut open, likely from a fight. An American couple with a little girl was also waiting for their authorization to go through. They were in an RV camper with Colorado licence plates. Another traveller I briefly me was a German tourist who was riding a newer BMW R1200GS.
I was cleared from the border at 5 PM and made my way to my next destination, the capital, the City of San Salvador. It quickly got dark, however, the Pan American Highway was in excellent condition and I was able to either stay behind vehicles who could light the road ahead for me, or I used the large beam lights installed on the motorcycle. They worked perfectly to light the unknown that lay ahead.
Arriving in San Salvador, I noticed a large shopping mall, just like the ones you’d see in large cities in the USA and Canada. Of course there were several little food carts and stands selling other items on the road in front, but still, it looked very different from the communities I had just been in over the past few days.
Then, as I arrived in the centre part of town, it was definitely different. Large chain hotels like Marriott, Barcelo, Comfort Inn; Restaurants like Tony Roma’s, Pizza Hut, TGIF, McDonalds, Wendy’s and Starbucks; and shops like the Harley Davidson and 7-Eleven. I didn’t like it! It was seeing a big city in the USA. It didn’t feel like what I felt the capital of El Salvador should look like. What I did like were the very nice roadways and lack of stray dogs.
Since I was arriving in the dark and it was late, I decided to play it safe and stay in one of the large chain hotels. To my surprise, it cost the same as it would in a large city in the USA or Canada. I was too tired to leave and stayed the night.
I’m looking forward to seeing the roads in the daylight and hopefully experience the real El Salvador.