After crossing into El Salvador, we drove to Los Termales de Alicate, hot springs that were pumped out of the water into pools. It was a relaxing place, especially after a border crossing. We swam and watched lightning strike, and a small, wet dog kept us company (and slept). We went to sleep fairly late, but got up early the next morning to drive to El Tunco, which was a short, three-hour drive.

We got there easily enough, and asked for the hostel Sol y Mar. No one knew were it was though, and we drove back and forth, eventually getting out of the car and walking to find out. It was the first place we’d stopped to ask. We also found out that the pupusas were a dollar apiece, so we decided to get three. I got a SUPPOSEDLY $2 burrito, which turned out to be $5 (I guess it was two full sized burritos with a plate of fries, so in the long run it was a great deal).

After lunch, we walked down to the beach, and had a fun afternoon in the sun, boogey boarding and swimming in the surf. Back in the van, we relaxed, using computers, chasing chickens, and playing with the hostel’s dog, Baku, an adult dog that still thought it was a puppy. For dinner we ate more pupusas, and in my case ceviche.

The next day, I awoke to a chicken walking around the inside of our van. I started laughing in my scratchy, cold-ridden voice (I had a cold) and said to Amelia, who was tapping away above me, “There’s a chicken in the van!” She promptly began laughing as well. I got out of bed and chased it in to the front seat, grabbing it and walking outside. “A chicken got in the van!” I yelled to Mom and Nate. They both began laughing when I raised my prize, showing off the terrified chicken that was no doubt on the verge of a heart attack. I walked up to the little sitting area that they were at, carrying with me the chicken. I flipped it upside down whenever it began to get particularly antsy, as Nick had showed me it would calm them down. I eventually let it go, and it jumped from the balcony and flew, or at least slowed the fall the ten feet down to the dirt ground. It landed safely, if rather haphazardly.

Is this Henrietta The Traveling Chicken?

Is this Henrietta The Traveling Chicken? Photo: V

We were sitting around when I saw the same chicken A SECOND TIME go into the van! I ran down to grab it, jumping into the van and cornering it by our beds. It made a break for it, but I pinned it (lightly, for all you animal lovers) with my foot, then placing my knee on its back and transferring my hands to its sides. I picked it up, brought it outside, and like I had before, simply held on to it. I eventually let it go, were it ran off and did its thing.

Another half-hour later, the SAME CHICKEN ENTERED THE VAN. Its poor little brain must have been awful, for it entered once again. The term ‘bird brain’ certainly has some truth to it, so it seems. Anyways, the capturing of the chicken was similar to the original grabs, so once I had it, I walked outside and sat with the dumb creature. The chicken was released so that I could play on the computer.

Benjamin plays with one of the kids at Sol y Mar. Photo: V

Benjamin shows his game to one of the kids at Sol y Mar. Photo: V

Sadly for the chicken, we closed the van door to eat breakfast. Everyone else had the basic breakfast, eggs, beans, cheese, and bread, as well as a smoothie, but I had an ironically chicken pupusa and lemonade. While we ate, we asked the restaurant owner how the people knew whose chicken was whose. He explained that the chickens quickly learned where the food was given to them, and would stay around the property or return after their neighborhood outings. “Do they get stolen?” we asked. He said that they did not, and that the respective chickens’ owners made sure that it did not happen. “How?” we asked. He explained that if a chicken was gone all day, all the time, and only returned late at night for food and sleep, they had a very good chance of being stolen, and ending up in the thief’s dinner plate. So if a chicken got into the habit of going out and returning late only for the food, the owner of that chicken would, logically, kill it. He then explained, seeing our (somewhat) shock, that if they didn’t, it would eventually get stolen, so it would be easier to get a meal out of it then simply have it disappear.

After breakfast, we left to go to a campground where we’d be spending the next night. We drove for several uneventful hours, following the GPS on Mom’s phone. Finally, we arrived at a dirt road. The GPS said for us to go down that same road, and, of course, we trusted the GPS, so down on the road we went. Several hours later, we were literally off the map on the GPS. We could see the road that didn’t exist, but our arrow was off of it, in the blank patches of GPS. We came to a house to ask directions. They said to turn left up ahead, and that there would be a big hill we’d have to go up. If the car could manage the hill, we’d be able to continue on to the town. So we came to the big hill, and boy was it big. Not really big as it was steep, rocky, and unpaved. We discussed whether or not to go up it. We backed down the road, and charged the hill! With the sounds of tires spinning out and the roar of the engine, we slowly and gradually made it up. At the top, though, we looked down it and it was steeper down as it was up the hill, so once again we discussed it. This time we decided that if a tree had fallen over the road or something, we wouldn’t have been able to get back up that hill. So back down we went.

Back on the main road, we went to a small town nearby, El Espino, where a woman waved us down. “Hi, how are you?” said Mom in Spanish. “Good, now that you’re here,” said the woman. Thinking that was kind of weird, we asked if there were any hotels in town. The woman offered to lead us to one. She walked on the dilapidated road while we followed in the car. They were both simple, so we decided to stay in the one with the better pool. After swimming for a bit, we ordered dinner and went on a walk. The sea was literally slowly swallowing up the town. Houses were precariously balanced on the shore, and in the water remnants of walls and foundations were seen. The buildings that were left were sad looking, like they had once been something. It was somewhat depressing.

We followed the lady on this road. Photo:

We followed the lady on this road. Photo:

After walking this ‘ghost town,’ as Mom named it, we ate dinner, which was very good. Then we watched The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror, as it was, after all, Halloween. We tried to go to sleep, as the waves sounded like the car was going to be swept away in the night.

The water came pretty close to the van but didn't touch it. Photo: Nate

The water came pretty close to the van but didn’t touch it. Photo: Nate

Alas, the car was fine, and we bid goodbye to the town, and drove to the Honduran border. It was a typical border crossing, except that on the Honduran side, the guy was corrupt. He didn’t SPECIFICALLY ask for a bribe, but he said, “We can do this the fast way or the slow way.” We did the slow way, which was, indeed, slow. But finally, we were done. We drove for several hours, deciding whether or not to power through Honduras, or stop at a hotel were we could camp before crossing the border between Honduras and Nicaragua. We stopped at the hotel for drinks, having shockingly sweet lemonade. We finally decided to stay at the hotel, and enjoyed their Internet, pool and a nice, air-conditioned entrance area. All and all we spent a total of three nights in El Salvador and one in Honduras.

Three nights in El Salvador, one in Honduras. Photo: Amelia

Another border crossing. Photo: Amelia

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Showing 5 comments
  • Kirsten Wysen

    Well written account, thank you, Benjamin!

  • Roscoe

    Great stories and well written – keep ’em coming!

  • Kathi

    Wonderful story … it gave me a few minutes of feeling like I was traveling with you. Some neighbors have chickens that wander now and then, so I’m sure I’m going to be looking around for that chicken for a few days, and won’t leave the car doors open. Glad to hear about your trip up and down the steep hill – but also glad that you made that decision to go back down rather than over it. Keep the stories coming – they’re very fun and much appreciated.

  • Bill Elliott

    Great job with a great story. Keep me coming. Say hi to yor sister,and mom and Nate. Safe traveling.

  • RondaVanderbush

    You did very well, Benjamin! I really enjoyed your blog! thanks for sharing!

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