Festival de Invierno (Winter Festival) in Perquín

Published: August 30th 2008
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The decision to get up at 3:30 in the morning to jump on a bus for four hours is a decision you can only make the night before.

So, that´s what I did--waiting in the muddy street at 4 a.m. listening to frogs and hearing the first chirps of birds while watching the stars slowly rotate their way across the sky and hearing the honking of the bread sellers as they started their daily rounds balancing the oversized baskets on their bicycles...waking up this early isn´t that rare in the campo.

I joined up with Nohé and Leo and we waited for the bus to lumber over, filled with excited music and dance groups from Nueva Esperanza and La Canoa, and blasting reggaeton already--at 5:30 in the morning. All I wanted to do was sleep, but the pounding beats kindly forced me to keep my eyes open and watch the first colors of dawn paint the sky.

As we wound up through the mountains on the "Ruta de la Paz," all of us were in awe of the beauty and majesty of the mountains around us--and wait, wait---was that cool air filtering through the windows?!? YESSSSS!!!!

We reached the small mountain pueblo of Perquín at around 10 a.m., and waited some more for the acts to start (we had to wait until mass was over, of course). Perquín seems to be balanced among the mountains, fresh air flowing around its cobbled streets and squat, colorful stuccoed buildings, with pine trees and green peeking in around the corners. I loved this place immediately.

I ran into Addiel (one of my theatre "students") and his brother, and we wandered through the feria, browsing the stands overstuffed with jewelry, magnets, pictures of la virgen, and various other knick knacks.

I spent the majority of the day watching the various musical acts and dance groups, from communities in Morazán and Bajo Lempa (William, a musician from Nueva Esperanza, is now working in Morazán and has begun to make these "intercambios" a reality).

In the afternoon, I went with three muchachas from Nueva Esperanza to explore the famous museum that Perquín boasts, featuring photos, testimonies, and artifacts from the Guerra. For the past half year, I have listened to stories and even directed plays that are centered around the war, but seeing the the pictures of young women and men my age in regular clothes, strapping M-16s on their backs and smiles on their faces made these stories more real. Seeing the motley mish mash of guns and rifles stacked around each other, and the descriptions of individual leaders who were "disappeared" during the war caused me to feel the admiration and--near disbelief--that people could feel so passionately about something that they would pick up one of these arms and be willing to die for it. Taking note of the notebooks with notes on geography and technology scrawled within the margins, I thought again about how the war was a rare opportunity for campesinos (peasants) and women to get a higher education and to organize. While leaning up against the wall in the Radio Venceremos (We Will Triumph) studio, I realized that the walls were covered with used egg cartons. And, staring at the salon-sized crater outside the museum, reading the short description that it was created by a bomb identified as being manufactured in the U.S., I felt that strange pang of ironic responsibility that surges up every once in a while.

The museum is modest, with an entry fee of 60 cents, and short labels in Spanish and English. I need to go back again. There is also an area where you can visit the tunnels that the guerrilleros used to hide in during the war, and an example of what a guerrilla camp looked like. If you´re visiting El Salvador, this museum is a must.

We clumped back in the bus and watched merengue videos (probably just about as cheesy as you can get), gazing longingly at the mountains (a lot of the people who were refugees during the war and placed in Bajo Lempa after the peace accords are originally from Morazán) and laughing our way back to hot, flat Bajo Lempa. When we got back, it was as dark as when we left.

Additional photos below
Photos: 17, Displayed: 17


Former guerrillero and singerFormer guerrillero and singer
Former guerrillero and singer

(his picture is inside the museum!)
Radio Venceremos studioRadio Venceremos studio
Radio Venceremos studio

(The sound insulation is made from egg cartons)
Crater made from a 500 lb. bombCrater made from a 500 lb. bomb
Crater made from a 500 lb. bomb

Right outside the museum
The bomb shellThe bomb shell
The bomb shell

Identified to be made in the U.S.

31st August 2008

Thank you for posting the pictures it is nice to see the winter festival still going year after year in perquin. Feria food looks YUMMMY made me want a Elote Loco. I see Santiago Torogos doesn't change still looking young. I hear Rufina Amaya the only survivor of El Mozote died a year ago from a Heart desease. That was sad. Please write more whenever you find a chance. It is always nice to read about your adventures in El Salvador, Please be safe. Adios
31st August 2008

Los Torogozes de Morazan
I said Santiago for some reason but his name is actually Sebastian. I have one of their CD from the 80's in MP3 format. I listen to it all the time :)
1st September 2008

hey robyn!
que tal robyn- how goes it? hmm... wonder why i spelled your name with a Y. it isn't is it? how are you? great to hear about your ventures- i'm back in providence working freelance, traveling, some, teaching spanish... be in touch. how are other artcorps folk? peace out, kate
31st October 2008

hi, tracy from the crazy Summer artists delegation
Hi Robin, Wondering if there are any new entries in your blog. Can only find the last one as Aug 30. We are always thinking of you guys out there in Ciudad Romero. Fond memories and many hopes for all of you present in your work and lives. We are having a fund raiser dinner next week to help the art program - hope it helps! Very interested Art Corp and what you are doing. Keep up the great work. I tell so many people about you and your student's work. Take care. Tracy
15th February 2010

dance video
i want some dance video, because our group have practicum thats why i want to see some video of esperanza dance

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