Day 9: Tuesday December 22nd
Another big day is ahead of us, we are scheduled to visit several different Mayan ruins. First stop is Joya de Ceren, a collection of excavated houses and living areas from 100 AD. One of the excavations is a bathhouse that you could crawl in to really get the experience. You don’t have to crawl in, you can look at the outside to get a good impression but I wanted to crawl in to see the inside. So I light the flashlight button on my cell phone crawl down the tiny little entrance on my knees (I assume doors were not existent at that time for these type of building and so the entrance was super small to keep the steam for the steam bath in) and sit down on the clay bench on the inside. There is no light in this tiny building and so I hold my phone flashlight up against the walls and jump as fast as I can off the bench and crawl back out. There must have been 100 or so spiders on the wall that were ready to jump on me – wow that scared the crap out of me. Lesson learned: never crawl into a dark cold unlit building when it’s hot and humid outside and there is not door or window that lets you first check out the inside!
We proceeded to San Andres, another Mayan site that was built around the same time as Joya de Ceren and was covered in the ashes of multiple Volcano eruptions (El Salvador has around 8 Volcanos) and was found and excavated around 1940. This time we saw the more “Pyramid type” looking structures you know from the history channel or Tulum if you have ever been there.
Our lunch stop was at a beautiful lake called Lago de Coatepeque, 20 miles around and 300 feet deep.
Last stop was Tazumal, a very big Mayan ruin including a temple that you could climb up prior to the Earthquake in 2001, now you can only walk around it. It’s pretty amazing though to see and you would never know it exits since its hidden behind some high walls and in the center of a small lively town with vendors lining the street in front of the Tozumal ruins.
Mike spent the day cruising around the beach, fishing and in the pool. He saw some long liners swoop in right in front of him, scooping up a big school of fish. The unfortunate consequences of not having a coast guard regulating the commercial fisherman and leading to very limited income for the local fisherman who depend on the ocean to provide them with food and income.
We have done quite a bit of driving within the country and it’s a beautiful country. Unfortunately, though like in many undeveloped countries does the good come with the ugly and the ugly in this case poverty, pollution and overfishing of the ocean. Lots of the population live in little “shanty’s”, small structures with a roof over their head but not much more, streets covered with litter and the ocean doesn’t bear a lot of fish for the local fisherman and their livelihood. All of this is very prevalent in El Salvador, a middle class is nonexistent, just the Rich and The Poor.
I would be interested to learn if increased tourism would help the El Salvadorian population to change their mind on how they treat their environment and would help set them up for better life’s and economic opportunities.
Jose prepared Mike’s dorado on the BBQ for dinner and we played a couple more rounds of 10,000 which then was interrupted by our friendly black neighbor dog – Terri – who was looking for some loving and really got into the raw eggs I fed him.
Day 10: Wednesday December 23rd
We are checking out the local estuary and mangroves, out for the hunt to see some crocodiles. We are greeted by the El Salvadoran Estuary guard when entering the protected part of the Mangroves; it’s nice to know that there are some protected areas and wildlife.
Our tour guide Mapache (Raccoon) – Julio guides us safely through the different channels and around an ancient island in the middle of the mangrove where many many centuries a Mayan King and Princess lived. So Julio tells us the story of the Princess who fell in love with a local fisherman which of course didn’t please her husband the king and the King got the fisherman killed. The princess was so sad and depressed about the death of her lover that she took her own life by drowning herself with a rock attached to her neck. At least that’s how we understood the story – Julio sharing this with us in Spanish including wild gestures, so who knows if we translated that correctly but it makes for a good story for sure! With us on the tour are Amada, Mario (jr) and Carlos who are much quicker in spotting the crocodiles than our old eyes. We see a couple crocs in the water and one out on the banks, quite the interesting sight to see the crocs in their natural (and stinky) habitat than in the zoo.
After the tour we need to cool down in the pool and soon lunch is awaiting – Sopa de Pollo.
The afternoon is dedicated to a “Christmas card” photo shoot and we learn quickly we are no models and posing for photos is not our forte but we still had a lot of fun taking pictures in our Santa hats.
Bed time comes early, even after over a week the sun still takes it out of us and we are going to bed around 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. Christy stays up and tries to find some American shows on the TV when a noise scared the crap out of her – two gecko’s hanging on the wall – “barked” and were making creepy noises. With no good shows on TV and crawling creatures on the wall she decides to go to bed.
…….to be continued……