Cerro Verde, El Salvador – Crossing the border to El Salvador

El Salvador is calling us. Central America’s smallest country is highly populated (7.3 mill) and has one of the world’s highest crime rates. The rebels of the 12 years long cruel civil war from 1980 on are mostly unemployed, but still possess one million illegal weapons that they are willing to use. Why are we here in this country? Is it really so dreadful? We will report.

We spent the last days in Guatemala with Bill and Beatriz to update our website. Today, we are heading to the border crossing Valle Nuevo – Las Chinamas at CA 8. For the first time self-proclaimed border helpers bellow who offer to carry out the formalities for a fee. What seems a bit ridiculous in the face of the simple departure procedure: Take out the vehicle, get a stamp in the passport, and it doesn’t cost anything. There are no helpers on Salvadorian side after the river bridge. Even so we need only an hour to get everything over and done with. It might have been way faster, but I take long to fill the form with all the unfamiliar technical Spanish expressions. The details from the form are superficially verified, but again nobody is interested in our cabin’s content. There is even no drug control. We are sent to the Aduana where the vehicle import paper is stamped and to the Migracion where we our passports are registered. There is no new stamp in the passport; the Guatemalan departure stamp is valid. The residence permit is valid for 90 days, but the vehicle permit only 60 days and may not be exceeded under any circumstances. There is not one Centavo to pay – the first complimentary border crossing.

The Guatemalans were very friendly, but the Salvadorians fall over themselves to be helpful. We are greeted with a handshake not only at the border crossing but by completely strange people on the street whom we ask a question. It seems that they have to welcome personally every single precious tourist.

We arrive a quarter of an hour too late in Cerro Verde National Park. The administration left at 5 p.m., but the gates are left open since there are still visitors. It doesn’t take long and we are crowded around by policemen who watch the park. First they don’t want to let us camp here. There is so more administration and no superior to be asked. Further down on the road there was a campground. But we ask them to consider (puppy dog eyes provided) that the path could be too narrow for our vehicle. One of the visitors asked for help phones another police officer and suddenly we receive the permit to stay. Up here on the volcano Cerro Verde in 2000 m / 6000 ft elevation it is chilly, foggy, and rainy – unlike wide areas of El Salvador. On clear days it shall be possible to see the Pacific Ocean. (National Park Cerro Verde: N 13°49’36.5’’ W 89°37’27.5’’)

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