In October-November last year, we spent about a month at Hotel Mopelia in El Tunco. We got to know people and where to be. We got a routine – sort of – and generally just had a great time. After touring down to Panama, we are back in El Tunco and have quickly acquired the same routine again.
With heavy hearts and sad faces we left our family at Hotel Mopelia in El Tunco on Tuesday morning. We managed to leave because we know we will be back. What a wonderful place!
Our last night in El Tunco was Monday night and time for the weekly Mopelia ping pong tournament. We had been (easily) convinced to stay so that Kyler could attempt to defend his title from the past week. The tournament attracted a big crowd of people and all together 29 ping pong competitors. After some intense games, Kyler handled the pressure and won again!
The reasons why we stayed for a while in El Tunco/Hotel Mopelia are many:
Gilles, family and friends, thank you for a great time!
While in El Tunco I was not great at updating funlovingliving! Somehow the days went by before I knew it. From our new temporary locale in Leon, Nicaragua I am therefore taking a look in the rearview mirror to share with you what we have been up to.
A little while ago local Roberto took us on an adventure to Cascadas de Tamanique (Tamanique waterfalls) nearby. We got on a chickenbus (old, flashy, decorated American school bus – typical in Central America) in El Tunco and enjoyed a 30 minute ride to Tamanique through lush El Salvadoran landscape. Then we hiked another 30 minutes to reach the waterfalls and river at the bottom of the valley.
Roberto had told us that sandals were appropriate footwear for the hike. It did not take long until we realized that hiking boots would have been better. It was steep and muddy. We slid under and inside our flip flops. Kyler attempted the barefoot approach, but due to insects and thorns on the path that is not to be recommended.
Cascadas de Tamanique unvailed themselves as we reached the bottom of the valley slope. They consist of different deep pools at different elevations, making it possible to jump from one pool to the next before climbing back up. Really cool!
A 10 second countdown photo of the gang. Takk for turen!
We have, just like many other before us, been trapped by El Tunco, more specifically by Hotel Mopelia. We have planned to leave every day the past few days, but every day we decide to stay one more day… Yesterday we decided to stay until Tuesday. We will see when we end up leaving!
Last week Kyler and I went away for two nights. We celebrated the seven year anniversary since we first met. We drove up to El Salvador’s coffee region, named Ruta de las Flores, for the occasion. Apparently the area is well-visited on the weekends, but we were there in the middle of the week and seemed to be the only visitors around. El Salvador is a small country so the drive between El Tunco and Concepcion de Ataco only took us two hours. The coffee region is substantially cooler as its elevation is much higher. It was strange, but refreshing to wear pants, shoes and long sleeve shirts after a long time in the coastal heat.
On Wednesday, November 14, we went on a drive through the lush Ruta de las Flores from Concepcion de Ataco to Juayua. In Juayua we went on a hike to some local waterfalls and visited a coffee plantation and production facility. It was a great day. On Thursday we missed our friends in El Tunco and returned to the coast.
Friday night was a big day at Hotel Mopelia. It was their five year anniversary and it was celebrated with a big party. In the day the kids had a piñata and at night a band from San Salvador came down to play and people from here, there and all over the world came to join in. We had such a great time and stayed up until the sun was rising.
With all the rooms being booked up for the big party, Kyler and I moved into the van on Thursday. We are now staying for free and they call us the squatters, but we don’t mind as we are pretty sure they are just joking around.
Updates since last update:
– Ping Pong Tournament: the Mopelia Ping Pong Tournament is a weekly event and consist of sixteen competitors. I finished my winning streak in the semi-final after being defeated by reigning champion Brent. Kyler and Brent met in the grand final. After an intense and exciting game Brent brought his trophy (that he actually made too!) back to his own window cill for the fourth time in a row. We will see where it sits next week.
– Yoga: I have been going to yoga classes hosted by lovely Sunny who moved to El Tunco from London three years ago. We meet Monday and Thursday mornings in a big palapa building that serves as a restaurant at night.
– Surfing: Kyler has been putting in lots of time surfing the Sunzal point break just down the beach from where we are staying. He is doing really well and is catching waves like they are going out of style. I have been out a few times and even caught a wave or two. After a couple close calls with death I am fighting a big scare and am carefully working my way back in the game. One event that scared me happened back in 2007 in Mizata (El Salvador) where the waves got uncontrollably bigger as the sun was setting. The waves were breaking into a bay and I did not know how to get back to shore. Luckily a local came out of the blue and helped me out of the situation. The other event that really scared me happened on Rainbow Beach (Australia) back in 2009. I had been out surfing when I got caught by a current and got drifted towards a jetty of large rocks. I eventually got helped out by Kyler and another friend. They swam out to grab my surfboard so that I could swim out of it the situation without my board. The ocean is powerful and must be treated with respect. The past couple of days the waves have been too big for most people here, I have therefore focused my energy elsewhere.
– Hammock time: In between surfing, yoga, swimming and meals we still have more than enough time to get comfortable in our hammocks. The building where we are staying has four rooms with four hammocks. This area is a great for socializing, reading, sleeping and listening to music. I have finished five books since we got here. A few books I enjoyed are: The Secret Lives of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon and The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.
– Day Date to the Big City: Kyler and I left peaceful El Tunco and went on a day-trip to San Salvador in search of Bond. James Bond. The capitol city is only a 35 minute drive away from El Tunco. We watched the new movie Skyfall at a fancy movie theater in a mall that looked more like America then America itself. After months without a tv or movies we might be easily entertained, but we loved it! I think Daniel Craig does a great job as James Bond. After some popcorn and ice cream we drove back to the calm of the ocean and El Tunco.
– Hotel Mopelia: The place where we are staying is part of the reason why we keep staying. Hotel Mopelia is a Belgian/El Salvadoran family business with great people and a great atmosphere. Gilles from Belgium has traveled all over the world before moving to El Salvador. The hotel is named after Mopelia in French Polynesia – look it up! It is beautiful. Next weekend is Hotel Mopelia’s five year anniversary and we don’t want to miss the big anniversary party!
– The People: We have met some incredible people and made some great friends here. They are a big part of the reason why we keep staying. El Tunco has a number of travelers coming through, some expats who live here and a lively group of locals. All come together to form a cool vibe. An interesting fellow we met answered that he has got: “Thirteen left” when asked how long he is traveling for. Turns out his life goal is to travel to all 194 countries in the world. He has thirteen left.
Then what do you do?
– Get a cookie?
Sooo, I have not been the best at updating lately. It seems like the less you have to do, the faster time flies by. We are enjoying the heat, the surf, our new and wonderful friends, yoga, the swimming pool, the sun and the liberty of doing whatever we would like.
One of our new friends have expanded my horizon with the knowledge of Sven and Ole jokes. Have you guys heard about them? They are all jokes about Norwegians (perhaps the ones that lived and emigrated to America 100 years ago, more so than the current ones living in Norway – at least, that’s what I tell myself) and they are quite funny and still somewhat relevant.
Ole died. So Lena went to the local paper to put a notice in the obituaries. The gentleman at the counter, after offering his condolences, asked Lena what she would like to say about Ole.
Lena replied, “You yust put ‘Ole died’.”
The gentleman, somewhat perplexed, said, “That’s it? Just ‘Ole died?’ Surely, there must be something more you’d like to say about Ole. If its money you’re concerned about, the first five words are free. We must say something more.”
So Lena pondered for a few minutes and finally said, “O.K. You put ‘Ole died. Boat for sale.’ “
It’s Monday night and the weekly ping pong tournament is soon on. We want that trophy real bad!
In the meantime: Good evening from peaceful El Tunco, El Salvador.