June 28, 2011

El Salvador, part 8

Filed under: travel — Frederick Noble @ 11:21 am Share RSS

One of the day trips we’d skipped was a visit to a Mayan ruin that had been buried by a volcanic eruption. The site is called “The Pompeii of the West” thanks to the petrified remains of people there. They were buried in the middle of their day-to-day chores and their homes look much like the mud homes you’ll still see in use today. Next time I’m in El Salvador I’d like to see that, but we needed a vacation from the family vacation. To get our Mayan history fix, we walked across town to the Museum of Archaeology in San Salvador.

A mural dedicated to Archbishop Romero was in process in the lobby, with the devils he preached against whispering in his ear – the Pope, the U.S., the local government.

Romero mural

The museum attempts to show El Salvador in all its historical stages of development, from Mayan to Spanish colonial to modern day. For me, the most interesting stuff was their Mayan collection. I’ve seen much larger collections of Mayan artifacts in the U.S., but if you want to see some very cool pottery this is the place to go in El Salvador.




Mayan What always impresses me about historical artifacts is how modern some of them look. I’ve seen ancient Egyptian jewelry that looks like something you’d see at the mall. This Mayan pot could easily appear on Antiques Roadshow as an example of American folk art from the early 1900′s.


The museum also has a room of temporary exhibits. When we visited, the artist on display (who’s name I neglected to note) was referencing Mayan culture. Some of the works included water and neon tubes – not the most interesting work I’ve seen but not the worst either.


Still motivated, we walked over to the Universidad Centroamericana in search of the Romero Center, the site of the Jesuit Massacre. After some minor misdirection and misunderstandings, and lunch, we found the museum.

“On November 16, 1989, six Jesuit priests – Ignacio Ellacuria, Segundo Montes, Ignacio Martin-Baro, Joaquin Lopez y Lopez, Juan Ramon Moreno, and Amado Lopez – were murdered by the Salvadoran military on the campus of the University of Central America (UCA) in San Salvador, El Salvador. Their housekeeper, Elba Ramos, and her daughter Celia Marisela Ramos, were murdered there as well. The Jesuits were labeled subversives by the Salvadoran Government for speaking out against the oppressive socioeconomic structure of Salvadoran society. Their assassinations were ordered for their unwavering defense of the poor.”

That’s right – 1989. This shit started with Carter and escalated through the Reagan years with various U.S. officials labeling even journalists covering the war as communists.

The exhibit is contained in a single room with photos of the victims and a collection of their personal possessions. The signage is in Spanish so you may need an English-speaking guide to get the full story. However, the objects on display provide plenty of impact.

Jesuit Massacre

Jesuit Massacre

Jesuit Massacre

As we left the campus, the rains came down. It was rainy season in El Salvador but we’d been lucky all week with only a few showers coming well after we were in bed. This afternoon we were happy to get a cab back to the hotel for a siesta.

dinnerWe were on our way to dinner at a comida tipica buffet restaurant recommended by one of our guidebooks when some friends of the family walked in the door and basically hijacked us and took us to their recommended restaurant, the name of which escapes me but I’m pretty sure ”Margoth” was in the title somewhere (Google is misdirecting me.)

Turkey sandwiches, tamales, beans, other fried concoctions, and, of course, papusas of both corn and rice flour with various stuffing options.


dinnerAll washed down with Pilsener and a traditional slaw that is delicious.

A lot of the family remained behind, however. What did they dine on?


Comida gringa!
Still ailing, She Who Shall Not Be Named hit the sack, leaving degenerate JN and I to trek up the hill to Bar 660 where the bartender spun up various videos from the past. Can you name this one?

Ah Ha

Yes, that’s Ah Ha’s Take On Me. He went on through blocks of early Madonna and Michael Jackson, flashing me back to high school. The night before, he’d done the same to JN with an early 90′s theme.

We found that the average Salvadoran bars aren’t much for liquor. You’re lucky if you can find a bottle of rum, tequila and vodka behind the bar. The locals stick to the three local beers, or Heineken. We ended up bringing our own rum, with permission from the bartender, and paying extra for club soda and limes.
Still weakened from my bout with the local bugs, I hit the sack relatively early.

Next episode – another round of leaping into volcanic lakes and a dinner party infected with my own personal hell, karaoke.

Next: part 9

Previous: part 7

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