El Salvador and Beyond - The Griswolds Strike Again travel blog

Dignatory"s house (bed platforms on left)

Steam bathhouse

Chaman's house or rooms

Pyramid at Joya de Ceren

Front of Joya de Ceren Pyramid

Front of Joya de Ceren Pyramid

Lake Coatelpeque

Restaurants out over the lake

More platforms over lake

Not so glamourous photo at the lakeside restaurant - corn in my...

Pyramid at Tazuma (altar just visible under doorwayh at topl

Unfinished Gothic cathedral in Santa Ana

The City Theatre - Santa Ana

City Hall - Santa Ana


Our tour host Rodrigo met us smack on time at 8.30 when he introduced us to our English speaking guide for the day, named Moises.

Our first destination was Joya de Ceren, which was named as a World Heritage site in 1993.

Whilst excavating to build some more corn silos on a site, the workers came across some buildings underneath the soil. At first because of the style and condition of the ruins, it was thought they were only 50 years old. A US expert was called in and took samples back to the US where he had them tested and he could confirm that the ruins actually dated back to the 1400s and had been covered by the ash of a volcanic eruption at that time. They are the only known ruins in Central America which show the housing and living style of the common Mayan people. All other ruins are of homes of the kings or very wealthy or temples.

What excavations they have since done have uncovered what is obviously part of a village complex with a house of a dignatory,

a Chaman's (medicine woman) house or "office",

storerooms, kitchen, steam bath house

and bedroom. They can even predict what time of day the eruption happened and the village evacuated (no skeletons found at all) as the kitchen had remains of meals and dishes and the bedroom had traces of the bedding being laid out for the night.

Next stop in our tour took us to Tazumal where we viewed yet another set of pyramids and attached museum. We were able to see the sacrificial altar at this pyramid.

El Salvador not really set up for tourism as yet but Eloise says signage etc. has improved along with new museums since her visit 4 years ago.

The museum here held many pottery pieces and artefacts recovered from the archeological digs, then we took a look at the Joya de Ceren pyramid.

Unfortunately for El Salvador, archeologists in 1948 decided the best way to preserve all the pyramids in the country was to cover them with concrete. However, this is not the case and they are now crumbling under the concrete. Restorations have now stopped as there is no money left to continue preservation works. It is a great pity that these sites could well disappear again.

Next stop was at San Andreas ruins where we saw the remains of an indigo processing plant dating back to the 1650s of colonial spanish occupation. Indigo is the dye used for dyeing denim for those who are wondering. There was yet another pyramid at San Andreas and many mounds which covered other buildings.

Time approaching for lunch so Moises suggested Lake Coatelpeque which is an active volcano crater lake.

This was a spectacular place, with restaurants built out over the lake itself and beautiful views of the mountain top surrounding us.

Enjoyed our chicken and tomato dish and John had crab soup. Truly a beautiful place with El Salvadoran musicians playing in the background. Pity to think that when tourism takes off, it will have the obligatory McDonalds etc.

Last ruins site we visited was at Casa Blanca and like all other ruin sites, most of it has been unexcavated as yet.

Our last stop was in the city of Santa Ana where we had a look at the unfinished Gothic style cathedral

and the very Spanish style buildings of the City Hall

and City Theatre.

Moises' wife actually played in the theatre the evening before as she is a violinist with the Symphony orchestra.

Arrived back at our hotel around 6.30pm - three very tired tourists. Took a walk a little later to buy some bottled water. A little daunting to see armed guards standing outside every business premises along the way.

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