Saturday, December 26, 2015

Ruta de las Flores, Ruta Arqueológica and more….

Travels in Western El Salvador
We left the Hotel Tazumal at 8:00 am. Nelson had changed from his city car of the previous day to a Nissan Pathfinder for the trip to the northwest. Skirting the side of Volcan de San Salvador we stopped at old black lava flows fringed with sugar cane fields to see the results of the last eruption. From there our route took us past a former Levi Strauss garment plant that was closed due to labour disputes and that now produces no name brands, and then past a Kimberly-Clark paper products paper mill, Scott, Kleenex, and lots more logos, where Nelson told us K-C is a very desirable place of employment. They pay well, give benefits and treat the employees well. Highly regarded locally.

A preserved Joya de Ceren home under layers of ash and lava,
We continued to Joya de Cerén which is a small Mayan site named a Unesco World Heritage Site. It is unique in that it was frozen in time by a volcanic eruption in 595 AD, much like Pompeii. Both the site and the museum were very good.

Nearby we stopped at the Ruinas de San Andrés site of a stepped pyramid and small acropolis. It is believed that about 10 to 13,000 people lived here. Although not as tall as the later classical or post-classical constructions of Guatemala and Mexico it is beautiful nonetheless and has a piece of intricately carved obsidian in the museum. The piece is about 15”x 3.5” and was unearthed at the site. The artistry and craftsmanship are incredible.

The crater lake, Lago Coatepeque, from the volcano's rim
Continuing northwest on a narrow mountain road, we stopped at a lookout restaurant/bar for beer and drinks overlooking Lago Coatepeque, a lake in the cone of a volcano, unique in that there is an island formed by a later eruption in the lake. The lake is lined with private residences with long docks for the toys of the wealthy. A stunning view from high on the craters edge.

The coffee was excellent and the gardens cool and inviting.

From there we climbed further into the mountainous coffee growing region until we reached a coffee farm that has diversified into tourism with a very good restaurant, some ziplines, honey production and an artisan shop. Our multiple meat barbeque was delicious and the beer was cold!

Xmas tree in Apeneca plaza
The little girl's eye lit up with surprise
as she turned the corner and spotted the tree.
She ran non-stop to touch it.

The Ruta de las Flores took us through three small early colonial villages, Juayua, Apaneca and Ataco. Nelson stopped in each giving us time to see their plazas and churches, all being prepared for the coming Christmas season. Between Apeneca and Ataco we stopped at a roadside Café. The gardens covered more than an acre with almost half covered by trellises thick with hanging orchids. Excellent coffee and treats, and again, the beer was cold.

When we turned northeast at Ahuachapán, we were about 10km from the Guatemalan border. Unfortunately by the time we got to the Mayan ruins of Tazumal dating back to 5000 bc, and the nearby Casa Blanca ruins it was late afternoon so we are hoping for a return trip to see them some time in the future. The drive back to the city with the end of the day rush hour in progress was exciting.

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