Getting Stuck in El Tunco

Everyone warned me that there is always one place you find on your travels that you get stuck. Two nights turns into five nights, or in our case five turns into eight… For whatever reason, you just can’t pull yourself away, and that you end up staying in one town for way longer than expected.

For me, that place was El Tunco. A tiny two-street town on the Pacific coast of El Salvador, there isn’t much to do here except surf and relax. Since I don’t surf, Tunco for me was all about relaxing!

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On the day we arrived I was still horrifically sick (thanks Guatemala!) but by the second evening I was ready to try and eat something. Most people have one plain comfort-food that they rely upon when their sick, usually something like buttered toast or Heinz tomato soup. My go to “sick” food however is a little bit more bizarre – plain avocado sushi. I just can’t think of anything better when my stomach has been through a tough time! So imagine my surprise and sheer delight when Martin tells me he’s found a sushi restaurant called Arigato in teeny-tiny El Tunco. Martin walked round to check it out, and not only did chef Francisco make me an oh-so-boring roll of avocado maki but he also turned out to be an extremely friendly & chatty guy who it was a pleasure to see around town on the following days.

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Surprisingly for such a small place there are plenty of other great options for food too. When we weren’t feasting on freshly made sushi we usually chose from another two cheap & cheerful eateries – an unassuming corner cafe where we only ate ceviche and veggie burritos, or the pupuseria.

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A pupusa is a savoury Salvadorian corn pancake or thick tortilla, stuffed with tasty fillings and covered in crunchy ‘slaw & tomato sauce. Two or three are enough for a full meal and they only cost 75c each – perfect fuel for backpackers! My usual order was garlic, jalapeño & bean, all with cheese. Delicious and hand-down my favourite street food of Central America.

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Enough about food, the real appeal of El Tunco for me came from two things. The first was a bit of luck – similar to our time in Caye Caulker, we wound up with a really great group of friends here. Some we’d met initially in Guatemala, others were staying at the same hostel as us.

We all spent our days not far from the hostel’s tiny pool, the majority of us floating around reading and avoiding the vicious mosquitos before breaking into discussions on politics, conspiracy theories, vegetarianism and everything in between! If it got too hot I’d slink off to the sheltered hammocks and try to concentrate on my book but it was never long until I’d venture back to join in the conversation again. I loved this little life so much and couldn’t pry myself away – I think Whitney dragging me to a morning yoga class was about the only moment of daylight I spent away from that pool.

I really regret not taking any pictures of our awesome little group – I guess I was just having too much fun to think about it at the time. Whohn Brose you owe us a photo when we eventually come to Portland! In the meantime, here’s one of our hostel’s ridiculously cute kittens instead…

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The second thing I loved about Tunco was our nightly routine of sitting on the beach, cold beer in hand, waiting for the sunset and the most beautiful colourful clouds to appear over the Pacific ocean. Monkey Lala is a pretty popular beach bar for good reason, so it became the usual viewing spot to watch the magic happen.

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Every sunset was slightly different, causing me to take a million photos each evening much to Martin’s delight. How can you resist just one more shot of people swimming in glowing pink water though?!

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(Spot the giant inflatable crocodile!)

Eventually, after eight (!) nights we were finally able to drag ourselves away from our new favourite little beach hideout. We hugged our friends goodbye, ate one final lunch of pupusas and jumped on a horrendously cramped chicken bus. There was more of El Salvador to discover and a food festival in Juayua was calling us…

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