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Published: December 18th 2007
We stayed for one night back in San Salvidor. We had requested a few days earlier the same room from Ximena's that we had before. We thought all was well but on arrival found only the crappy noisy rooms available. Not happy we went to La Estancia not far away and slept in a dorm. No one else was in our room so it was fine and Pieter spent the evening chatting with Peace Corp volunteers who favoured this hostel. One was a New York narcotics cop.
The next day we caught a taxi at 5:30 am to the Terminal Oriente and got onto an 'especial' bus for San Miguel. These buses are simply the more modern ones with comfy seats but aircon was never installed. It left at 6 am on the dot. It took a couple of hours to San Miguel where Pieter waited with the bags while I figured out how to get to Perquin. One bloke said there wasn't a direct bus until 3 pm and another said it was in an hours time. Not really trusting either I found the next bus for San Francisco Gotera which was on the way. The bus was full
of smiley faces, especially one old guy, and they all broke into hysterics when the bus pulled out without Pieter who went to get food. As a joke the driver left him banging on the door for a bit. It was funny. At Gotera we switched to a small ute that had been customised with a baggage carrier on top of the cab and a tarp over the rear frame. This was our first 'pickup' as they are called in this part of the world. It filled up quickly and was difficult to see outside. We were asked to pay US$1.30, the boy indicated that was per person. We could tell it was too much and the ladies sitting opposite immediately told us it was for both. The little bugger smiled sheepishly and gave us our change. He was made and felt rather embarrassed.
Perquin was tiny and quite abandoned looking when we arrived. On the main square we found Prodetur, a tourist agency. A young Japanese man there spoke some English. We got some pamphlets and were asked to return later to see the guy who could book tours. They suggested Perkin Lenca for accommodation. Leaving to check
Disturbed while sunbathing
it out we bumped into a Peace Corp girl who said it was the nicest in town and the only one with hot water. We were sold. It was about 1 km back down the hill then a steep climb up to the restaurant. Ron, the owner from Delaware, offered us a discounted cabin for US$40. Further up the hill were rooms for US$30 but we decided it was worth the extra $10 a night not to have to drag our lazy arses further up the hill. And it was lovely. Hammock on the balcony, big cosy room. It was a bit of splurge but we really enjoyed it there. The food in the restaurant was inexpensive and very good. All the ladies who worked there were very nice.
We managed to arrange an English speaking guide for the next day but we had not been too clear on what we were going to do. Jose arrived at 7 am and we started walking back towards San Miguel until a pickup came by. We were dropped at an intersection and started walking down a dirt road until a passing ute gave us a lift to Arambala. Again we started
walking and this time were given ride by a truck to our destination, the Rio Sapo (Frog River). All the time Jose was speaking about the war and his family. His Dad was 94 and his Mum 88. He was the youngest son. After being trained by the guerrillas in 77 or 78 he ran away rather than serve, going through Guatemala and Mexico to the US where he lived near the Canadian border. His family came from El Mozote, a village that was the site of a massacre in 1981. 1000 people including many children were slaughtered there. He was in the US at the time and his parents left the village only weeks before the attack after being warned by a Godson in the army that something bad was going to happen. Jose never knew his parents were alive until he returned after the war in the early 90s.
Jose took us on a half hour trail besides the river. It was lovely and an easy walk. The trail had only been there for 6 years and he was proud of it. We passed a station where you could rent a tent and a campground. At a
patch of beach I went for a dip in the freezing water. Very refreshing. A guy with a machete came up to me after I had put my clothes back on. He was friendly and I wasn't worried because I knew they had a guard to protect the area from fishing and people taking plants. Back at the road we brought sodas while waiting for the bus. Pieter drank his quickly and returned the bottle but mine was tipped into a plastic bag with a straw inserted to avoid paying for the bottle as well. We had seen drinks often served in this manner but had not experienced it ourselves. A bus arrived after 9:30 am that was going to El Mozote.
In the village of 78 families there was small square, a pretty church, and a memorial to the dead. The names of the dead were on the a wall with a metal welded statue of a family. A lady called Rufina was buried here. She died only recently but was the only person to escape the massacre, managing to slip away from a group of people into the bush without being noticed by the soldiers. Her 3
children were killed. There was a mural on one side of the church and a mosaic on the other. The mosaic commemorated the 140 of so children killed in the priests home next to the church. The youngest was only 3 days old. There was now a garden on the site where the bodies were found in 1991. We also walked a little out of town to see the house of the town benefactor who also was killed. There was huge crater left by a US bomb. We were quite shocked and saddened by what Jose told us. He now lived in El Mozote with his parents and his wife and children.
We then returned with Jose to Perquin, getting a ride with a ute (we shared the back with juice) back to the main road, then a pickup to Perquin. We visited the Museum of the Revolution which contained photos of guerrillas and heroes and martyrs. There was radio equipment, documents, guns, medical supplies, bullet proof cars and the remnants of a helicopter and a plane. The building out back had originally housed the freedom radio station. There was another crater here and leaving the museum and going
Mural on the church
up the hill a bit we saw a fox hole.
We were glad to have visited Perquin. People were getting on with life here despite the recent history of violence.
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