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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

My First El Salvador Adventure

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

Editor's Note: El Salvador uses the US Dollar as their currency, so no conversion for pricing below is necessary.

It was a "guys" road trip.

We left the girls in Panajachel, Guatemala to do some body surfing and exploring through El Salvador in Central America. El Salvador is a small country and borders Guatemala to the east.

Our overland route is shown in the next two map photos

Our route through Guatemala

From Pana we traveled to Escuintla, our first stop. Here we over-nighted, then made our way on to the beach at El Tunco, in El Salvador.

El Tunco is a beach to the west of La Libertad

From the surfer town of El Tunco (more on that below) we traveled north to the mountain town of Suchitoto then on to Colonial Santa Ana. We made our return through Guatemala City and Antigua, ending our trip back in Panajachel on Lake Atitlan.

My total cost for this ten day adventure was $278.00 USD or $27.80 per day. This cost included staying at hotels that had swimming pools and air-conditioning, it covers all my food in restaurants and my transportation expenses. Everything. As you will see below, we were not hurting for comfort.

Transportation by launcha across the lake is mass transport for residents.

Leaving Pana, our first from of transportation was across Lake Atitlan by boat. We then picked up the chicken bus in the larger town of Santiago.

Almost daily we see the Maya transport firewood on their backs

Deep in the heart of Mayan country, Santiago is the largest encampment along the shores of Lake Atitlan. This town is more conservative and traditional in the customs of the Maya than the tourist towns that also dot the shore.

 

Our ride! The famous Chicken buses in Guatemala

This is the bus we took to Cocales before transferring to another for the trip to Escunitla. Brightly painted, the refurbished school buses are one of the main forms of transport through Guatemala.

Travelin' with my Dad!

"Thumbs up!" It's all good here, as my seat mate is letting me know. The kids in Guatemala are absolutely heart-grabbing, with an unmatched innocence not seen in other locations on our travels.

Private parking, swimming pool, jungle ambiance

Arriving in Esquintla we over-nighted at Hotel La Villa and paid $25.00 for a fan room. The pool was refreshing after a day of travel, and as we started our descent to lower altitudes the temperature started to rise.

Drake in a pedi-cab at the border

Border crossings can bring many surprises. At this crossing my travel mate, Drake, and I had to use two peddle cabs to get our required passport stamps. These pedi-cabs have a thriving niche market here.

Even though one visa covers all four countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua, there are still border check points and the need to obtain all the usual stamps.

Years of experience and working in the sun show on this man's face

Now that we are on the bus in El Salvador and moving closer to the coast, the strong Mayan influence is no longer present. With sun drenched faces it's a different culture that shows through.

La Libertad beach in El Salvador

Por Fin! We're finally on the beach in La Libertad, El Salvador, and by now, it is time for lunch.

Appetizer, El Salvador style

We split this fried fish appetizer with freshly squeezed lime, and it was surprisingly tasty. What a great start!

A local specialty of crab soup

Our appetizer was followed by a tasty bowl of fresh crab soup.

When by the sea, we eat seafood!

Here you see a mixture of popcorn shrimp, ham, cheese and tortillas. This protein-rich combo was accompanied by their national beer, Pilsner.

At Bertha's Restaurante, the total cost of meal, appetizer, soup, entree, and beers was $25.00 for two.

Hotels and restaurants listed on this painted wooden sign

Up the road 8 kilometers from La Libertad, you will find Playa El Tunco where we stayed the next several days.

We had our choice of a freshwater pool or the ocean, a stone's throw away

Our Hotel Pupa ( $25.00 for two) was just off of the beach and offered us this refreshing pool. If you happen to go to this hotel, be sure to tell Oscar the owner "Hola" from Billy.

There are lots of bars, restaurants and hotels in El Tunco

A funky beach town, El Tunco has something for everyone, with an emphasis on surfers.

Here's a surf school!

In fact, this place is chock full of surfers and beach bums due to the reliable surf break.

A wide, pleasantly clean beach

 

Over the next couple of days the warm water, continuous waves for body surfing and fun in the sun took it out of us. It's time to eat again!

Awesome pastas!

This Pasta Marinara, with fresh lobster, crab and large shrimp was outstanding. The Pasta Primavera also took a prize. The price? A mere $7.50 each plate. It was so much food that we had plenty of leftovers for later.

El Salvador's beaches and babes

Surf's up! The sun glistens on the water and calls us out to hit the waves once more.

Billy's an Old Salt, taking a break from the sun and surf

I just finished riding a few waves, so I am taking a break. Even I have to catch my breath from all of the excitement out there in the water.

Pupusas, traditional food of El Salvador

The next day we had to sample the famous El Salvadorian pupusas, one Dollar each. These are made with a thick, hand-patted corn tortilla filled with cheese and shrimp. After grilling, they are topped with shredded spicy marinated cabbage.

 

And don't forget some fresh orange juice!

Mugs of freshly squeezed orange juice for about $1 each found their way to our table. The simple pleasures of a simple life.

The big ball of fire sets in the west

The days here are done and our time at the beach was coming to a close.  Now it's time to move on to new horizons.

Salvadorian school kids

Back on the road heading up country to Suhchitoto. School kids riding the bus with us are forever curious and never shy.

The church in Suchitoto

This town was so dull that it made a sleepy town look alive! Nothing - absolutely nothing - was going on here.

Except the lake!

The lake here in Suchitoto was man made and beautiful, but one night here was about 23 hours too long. So we traveled west to Santa Ana for the beginning of the end of our journey.

Old friends in Santa Ana holding the park bench down, shooting the breeze

Here is a shot of one of the many parks in Santa Ana, which is an easy going town.

Sitting in a window well having a brew

All of this sight-seeing made us thirsty, so we took a break.

Beautiful archways on theater building

Santa Ana is a good size town, and the presence of the teatro confirms this.

The spectacular Catedral

Building cathedrals takes time! Construction on this one began in 1906 but it wasn't completed until 1959. Most of the churches in El Salvador and the rest of Latin America are done in the Spanish Colonial style. This one was designed to look like a Gothic cathedral to be in contrast to the others, and is probably the greatest icon in Santa Ana.

Built on the site of the original colonial church (finished in 1576 but destroyed by lightning in the late 1800's), this cathedral has a marble altar and is dedicated to the town's patron saint, Santa Ana.

An outside view of the Catedral

There are six bells that  were brought from the Netherlands in 1949. Three are placed in the north tower which are rung manually, and three in the south tower which are activated by an electronic system. In 1995, this cathedral was declared to be a National Monument. Festivities for Santanecos (Santa Ana residents) take place in July each year.

Very clean, well organized hostal

This Hostal La Casa Verde in Santa Ana had everything, including a pool, massage chairs, and a roof top terrace for a relaxing sunset view.

Roof top view of Santa Ana

Here's the view from the roof top terrace which was also used as a "chill out place."

The owner relaxing a bit

Carlos is the owner of the Casa Verde Hostal and he will be sure your every need is attended to. I found this hostal to be one of the best equipped and had the cleanest kitchen I have seen in years.

Hanging out in the cool pool

World travelers gather to cool down in the pool and it's like a meeting of the United Nations. The girls on the left are from Holland, the guy is El Salvadorian, the girl on the right is Spanish and we are from the USA.

A happening bar and restaurant

Dinner for two? Sure! Santa Ana had a lot more going on than the mountain town of Suchitoto, and finding good restaurants and entertainment was fairly easy here.

BBQ ribs with salad and fries

This Costilla a la Barbacoa, was awesome! Especially for the price of $9.00.

Another bus to the Guatemalan border and beyond.

Our 10 day adventure was ending, so we boarded another bus to head on to Antigua, our first stop back into Guatemala.

Guatemala Guide Get it Here!

The Arch of Santa Catalina

It was a quick layover in Antigua where we spent one night. The next day we made our return to Panajachel at Lake Atitlan.

Beautiful view of Lake Atitlan

Here we are back home in the Vortex of Panajachel, Guatemala. It was a quick trip, but fun to get away for a few days to get a different perspective.

Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.

Once again, my total cost for this ten day adventure was $278.00 USD or $27.80 per day. This amount included all my hotel stays, food in restaurants and all transportation expenses.

For more information on Hostal La Casa Verde, click here

For more information on El Salvador's neighboring country of Guatemala, click here

For more information on the country of El Salvador, click here

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About the Authors

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their popular website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurerís Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.

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