As I was having complimentary breakfast at the hotel in Zacatecoluca, El Salvador, a strange-looking guy with cycling shorts and shoes walked in and sat down. He had a long goatee and a completely shaven head except for a patch of straggle at the back. Antonio is an Italian who’s cycled from Alaska. As we finished breakfast, he asked, “We cycle together, no?” I said yeah, but told him that I have a sore knee and that I hope I could keep up.
I found out he’s on an old mountain bike loaded with shit. He’s got a stuffed-animal dolphin tied to the back, his bike chain creaks, and his front (disc) brakes don’t work. I rode much faster as I have skinner tires and a bike in good repair.
I would ride ahead, then take a break and wait for him. Although we rode at a different pace, it was good to have a partner again to share the experience – to complain about the heat and terrain, to set a goal destination for the day, and to have someone to eat with.
We decided to try to get to Playa El Cuco, but we had to climb over some mountains to get there. As we were taking a break from riding up the mountain, a truck stopped to offer us a ride. Antonio was going to refuse it, but I told him I was going to hop in, so he came too. He told me that it was his first time in his trip from Alaska to get a ride; he didn’t like it. I told him that I try to just flow like water; if an opportunity presents itself, I’ll take it.
And the people in the truck were really generous. When we got to the beach, they gave us vodka, and beer, we hung out with their family, who were visiting from New Jersey, and they gave us some food. I told Antonio, “I’m glad we took that ride.” He didn’t seem impressed as he was trying to hold true to his biking-only, purist idea.
We found a depressing, cinder-block room with straw-mat bed and hammock and no fan for $5 per night. The bed was a wood frame with rope strung across it and few straw mats placed on top. Antonio said he would sleep in the hammock.
The bathroom was a large sink full of water and a washboard, and a toilet where you’d have to pour water into the bowl to flush it down. No shower. Antonio stood naked by the sink lathering himself up with soap. I bathed in the ocean.
We stayed at El Cuco another day to rest and to bide our time before entering Honduras, which was having problems after a military coup.
Rodrigo and Malcolm were two kids who were constantly hanging around, and talking to me. It was hard saying, “No entiendo” so much.
They wanted to show me this wet, dead dog.