Saturday, September 18, 2004

Week 12 - Metapan, El Salvador to Siguatepeque, Honduras

September 11-17, 2004

Saturday to Sunday - SAN VICENTE

We took a bus from Metapan to Santa Ana and spent the afternoon there.

Then we continued on to the capital, San Salvador, where we bought umbrellas before getting on the next bus to San Vicente where we stayed for two days. San Salvador and Santa Ana are the country's two largest cities.

San Vicente is a town of 56,800 people and lies at the foot of the double peaked Volcan San Vicente (volcano). As you descend into the city from the Pan American Highway, you can see a gorgeous, tall clock tower from the distance. It lies in the middle of the city's central park. The clock used to work and people used to be able to climb to the top, but earthquake has damaged the tower enough as it is no longer safe - even though it is still standing.

Very interesting that this town was full of damaged, collapsed, and abandoned buildings due to many earthquakes. It lacks money and tourists (unlike Antigua). The damage is realistic and very very sad - where in the Guatemalan city, earthquake ruins are presented as beautiful tourist sites.

Ate tons of pupusas which are El Salvador's most popular foods...tortillas made of corn or rice meal and stuffed with cheese, beans and cheese, pork crackling, or mixed. I lived on the cheese and bean pupusas - literally - all week. Love them!

Monday to Tuesday - SAN MIGUEL

From San Vicente, we took a bus to San Miguel - El Salvador's third largest city of 380,000 people. It lies at the foot of the San Miguel volcano. Busy and very commercial.


From San Miguel we traveled to Perquin with the hope of crossing the border and also to visit the Museo de la Revolucion (Museum of the Revolution). Seeing this museum was the high light of El Salvador. It was filled with photos, posters, information, and military gear and weapons. It is run by ex-guerrillas . In the central garden there are helicopter wreckages - American made, shot down by guerrillas in 1984. There is also a crater left from a 500 pound American made bomb that was dropped there. The town was the guerrilla "capital" FMLN (see El Salvador commentary) and much war damage can be seen throughout - bomb craters, trenches, helicopter landing pads... They also have the actual bullet proof vehicle used by the FMLN to get to Mexico City for peace talks in 1991. The museum is also the actual site for the FMLN informative radio that was much sought and never found by the El Salvadorian military. The town is still a main location for FMLN support and involvement. It is also extremely, extremely beautiful.

Actual Guerrilla war location:

We found out that we were not able to cross the border as there was no El Salvador immigration office to give us an exit stamp...but there was a Honduras immigration office. And so, we left, by foot...walked quite a ways before we caught the first of two buses that took us to Santa Rosa de Lima - population 27,300. It was here that we had our last pupusas - the best yet! Boy will they be missed!! And...we prepared to cross into Honduras.

Thursday to Friday - SIGUATEPEQUE

Took a bus to the border, El Amatillo, and walked across to Honduras. Smooth border crossing.

Caught a bus to the capital, Tegucigalpa, and then on the Siguatepeque. Beautiful town of 39,165. We chose to come here as it is 1,150 meters in altitude, therefore a little cooler. The central plaza is really pretty and people have been fantastic. This is also the first time in a week that we have seen other travelers (we saw none in El Salvador - at all...since Antigua, Guatemala). Found a great little hotel and had our border crossing beers. Spent the night on the "stars..."

The plan is to try traveling to an old mining town (inspired by Calumet and the Copper Country) named, Minas de Oro (Mines of Gold). However, we are not sure if it is possible to get there from here. Some say that there are roads that are impassable without a 4x4.

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