Central America - SouthoftheBorder travel blog

Bus out of Gracias. They tried to get us on an "Executive" bus with AC, windows darkened w/ curtains etc but we finally convinced them we wanted a chicken bus so we could see the countryside. It left 9:45 arr Santa Rosa de Copàn 11am where we picked up another immed to Nueva Ocotepeque, then a short colectivo ride to the border crossing by 1:30. No stamp, just pass on thru after guard cks passports in their computer. El Salvador uses US dollar as its currency!! Really weird.

The mtns we pass thru are quite spectacular (tho no where close to Karakorum in Pakistan) but lots of clearing - pines are everywhere but the ground beneath is planted in coffee &/or corn and it is very dry here. The higher elevations seem to have more moisture - growing cabbages, melons, other veggies. Lots of watermelon piled high in stands along the road.

Arr in San Salvadore from border at 5:30pm in the midst of rush hour (maybe its like this all the time) traffic. Streets like in Tegus. - narrow, crowded, in a huge sprawling city never built/designed to be crammed full of busses & trucks & cars. Being late we opt for a taxi to Hotel Villa Florencia which is full. Next door at Hotel Pasadena II where we find a room w/ TV, fan for $17 (that's US now). Plain Jane w/ cold H2O shower but close to everything.


Head downtown to see sights then bus to Terminal Occidental for bus to Ruins-San Andreas & Joya de Ceren (place which was Maya and covered by volcanic eruption from 1 km away in 640 ad...like Vesuveous). An eruption in 420ad by Ilopango (now a crater lake) covered much of El Salvador incl this site, so there is stuff under the stuff they have excavated. Due to preserved state of villages (less than 3% uncovered) it was imp to understanding everyday life of Maya, food crops, etc.

Joya de Ceren Info

Ilopango Info

Observation: In Guatemala but even more in El Salvador, I'm seeing a great number of properties (land,lots,homes,businesses) for sale! Economic or/& politically motivated!? Since the end of civil war in 2004 E.S has been struggling. During the 20+ years of civil war over half the population left, thus much of the $$$ now in the economy is from remittances abroad. Unfortunately, many have returned bringing what they learned sometimes in gangs in the US back. This has produced a thriving drug traffic which has in turn (according to LP) produced one of the most violent countries in the Americas.

From a history of 14 families controlling 95% of the countrys income and supported by US and CIA operatives...again, the fear factor of "communist" takeover...it is now one of the poorist countries as well, surviving, as I said, on remittances from abroad (now in decline due to world economic decline).

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