Tuesday, December 27, 2016

El Salvador Trip: Ruins Day

On my third day in El Salvador, Edwin brought me to famous archaeological sites. The first stop was Joya de Ceren which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Edwin told me that initially, it was a site for an agricultural project but when they started to dig, they found some ruins and what looked like a farming village that was intact under 14 layers of volcanic ash. The excavation sites were roofed as it should be protected from the sun and rain. It was discovered that the first settlers of the site was around 1200 B.C.  

It was amazing that the ruins were well preserved because of the perfect temperature of ash. It was about 70 structures that were discovered and uncovered which consist kitchens, living rooms, storehouses, place of worship and even a sauna!

'Parque Arqueologico San Andres' was the next stop. Here, you will find Mayan ruins of San Andres that lies in the valley of Zapotitan. It was around 45 minute drive from the capital San Salvador. The park also have a small museum that displays old tools that belonged to the first inhabitant of the place on 900 B.C. 

The main attraction of the park is the Acropolis. It is like a throne where the Mayan lords ruled their domain. It is very noticeable that most of the buildings were created in mud or adobe bricks. It is also believed that it could be the regional capital between 600 to 900 AD. 

The last stop was the 'Sitio Arqueologico Tazumal'. The ruins in this park is considered as the most important and best preserved in El Salvador and in 1947, it was declared a National Historic Monument. The whole area is like a big complex and the most outstanding structure is the main pyramid. It was estimated that the first settlements in the area is around 1200 B.C.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

El Salvador Trip: Volcano Day

On my second day in El Salvador, Edwin brought us (me and one Chinese tourist guy who also stayed in his house) to visit volcanoes. Parque Nacional Los Volcanos, also known as Cerro Verde National Park is more than two hours drive. Before entering and starting the hike, we first took a glimpse of the beauty of Izalco Volcano. It got its' reputation as 'Lighthouse of the Pacific' (El Faro del Pacifico) because of it continuous eruption from 1770s to 1950s. 

After paying the entrance fee, a local guide explained the dos and donts in hiking the Santa Ana Volcano (Ilamatepec). I understood some of what he was saying and fortunately, Edwin translated some of it for us. Basically, a local police will be with us and if it started raining, we have to cancel the hike.

The way to the top was very challenging. It was more than two hours of trekking with terrains that were sometimes muddy, dry, grassy and rocky. I felt my heartbeat during that time and it was so tiring. But I didn't give up and training before traveling really contributed a lot to my endurance.

Once we reached the top, oh, my, gosh! It was so beautiful and all those muscle pains just suddenly vanished. There was this guy who was selling frozen banana chocolate and it helped us to recover from sweating and the heat that we felt. The view down the crater was so amazing! The color of the crater lake was like light green and it was almost touching the clouds. We rested there for more than an hour and took a lot of photos. It was a magnificent feat for me to reach it. It was like another an another accomplishment.

The way down was easier and the view was an added bonus. I didn't even feel any legs soreness as we enjoyed every step down the hill. 

The highlight of the day was our late lunch! Edwin took us to this restaurant overlooking the Lago Coatepeque. It was a very refreshing view and I think the foods became so tasty because of that sight. It is one of the largest lakes in El Salvador and an hour drive from the capital San Salvador.

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