Date: Mon, 10 Nov 2003 00:23:47 +0100
Subject: Travel report 7. El Salvador and surrounding.
El Salvador; By far the smallest country of Central America, but with still more inhabitants than the second biggest country of Central America, Honduras. Sometimes they call it: "Valle de las Hamacas", valley of the hammocks, because there are each year a lot of earthquakes. Fortunate are most of them so small that nobody feels them, but sometimes they do a lot of damage...
Although I met almost none other tourists during my trip through El Salvador, I found it still difficult to find a place without any sign of civilization or where you can be alone, except when you when you go to a cinema on Tuesday evening...
The public ransport service is very well organised and cheap in el Salvador. However they're most of the time less crowded than in Guatemala, I've seen some busses where people were hanging outside the door and even one bus where a man was standing on the front bumper of the bus in front of the right headlamp!
Because of the good bus service and because I spent 2 days with a Japanese photographer, I brought a short visit to a lot of places in the west of El Salvador. But first I went to:
La Libertad; After all the story's I heard about it I expected to find a touristic surfers-town on the coast, but I found only a, not very clean, fishermen’s-town. To me there were 2 nice things to do here: eating all kinds of fish you can think about, or make a very long walk on the beach east of La Libertad. You will met almost nobody, but don't look through the palm trees, because than you will see to much (vacation) houses.
Parque Nacional Walter Deininger. It can be a very nice park with a lot of diversity, but I was disappointed to see all the trash that floated, with the river, into the park :-(
Playa El Sunsal, Los Blancos and Bocana Cordoncillo. The first beach looked like a real small and quiet surfers paradise. The second beach was a disappointing and it would be better if it exchange it's name with the more nice beaches of Bocana. For so far as I've seen the beaches in El Salvador, that was also the only beach that looked nice, to me, to lie in the sun and go for a swim..
Because it was to expensive to stay near the beaches, I went back to San Salvador where I met the Japanese photographer. She was making a photo reporting about the interior of some churches in Central America. I joined her for 2 days and in those days we visited; Izalco, Sonsonate, Nahuizalco, Juayua, Apaneca, Ahuachapan, Santa Ana and Santa Tecla. It was a good route, we saw some nice places and churches and I can especially recommend to go to Santa Ana and have a look at her beautiful detailed church. Only I would dissuade everyone to go to Sonsonate, we didn't like it and it seems that the place didn't liked us to...
The Temple of Tazumal, I expected it bigger, but I was still happy that I went to that place, because of the cemetery next to the temple. I found it beautiful to see and from there you can also take a picture of Tazumal. Also you don't have to feel uncomfortable to walk over that cemetery, because when we were there, on the day before Los Santos, they were having a party on that same cemetery and were there some children playing on the tombs!? I also heard that they find sometimes some Maya pottery when they dig the graves. Sounds like a good place to bury an archaeology person...
Lago de Coatepeque; A crater lake surrounded by some hills and 2 volcano´s and although it's smaller that Lago Llopango, it's more touristic and you can do all kinds of water sports from here.
Cerro Verde (green hill); A death volcano that's really worth it's name and from where you have also a good view over the other 2 volcano´s and the lake.
El Poy; I only visited it to cross the border with Honduras, so I can't say much about it.
After 2 weeks of travelling in El Salvador I found it less dangerous than a lot of people told me before. Perhaps this is because the last few years the government is really trying to do it's best to get more tourists into the country and there for they're giving even the police special trainings how to treat tourists and how to speak English very well. I think already because of this El Salvador deserved at least a short visit. Maybe interesting for the men, it was also the first Latin American Country where I've seen a lot of beautiful local women ;-)
Gracias, Honduras; A friendly village in a beautiful environment, especially when you look down on the village from the white fort next to it, just before sunset. Gracias is a little mix between San Pedro La L. and Antigua, only far less touristic.
Parque Nacional Celaque; Has a beautiful long trail (6h. up and 4h. down) that brings you varied through pine-forest, broad-leaved forest and some tropical vegetation with orchids growing on the trees! During the hike you can drink water from some brooks and when you enter the cloudy forest after a steep walk, you will see mystery forest almost like in a fairy-tale.
Balneario Aguas Termales, hot water springs; They were a little smaller than I expected, but it was very nice to feel some hot water on your body again, after 2 weeks of cold showers.
Copan the village; i liked this village even more than Gracias, although I can understand that this will be perhaps different during the tourist season. It looks nice and friendly with some colourful streets.
Copan Ruins; 10US$ entrance fee, 5US$ to see the museum and an other 12US$ to visit the tunnels underneath the site. I was only interested in the first and the last, but didn't want to pay 12US$ to visit the tunnels. I think the site was not as beautiful as Tikal or Yaxilan, but there where well a lot more detailed stelaes and images in good condition, to see. And don't forget to bring a visit to Las Sepulturas also, where the population of Copan used to live.
Because it's today Sunday 11-9-2003, the day of the elections in Guatemala and I'm only 12km away from the border, I want to mention it again. At this moment the former dictator, Rios Mont, is 3e on the prediction list, but he already treated that he will do a coup if he will lose. Most tourist have already left the country, the neighbour country's are looking very careful at what's happening in Guatemala and are ready to close the borders. Let's hope that nothing real will happen?????