Perquin and the Guerilla War


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Central America Caribbean » El Salvador » Eastern » Perquín
November 29th 2008
Published: January 7th 2009
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Hostel view, brilliant again!Hostel view, brilliant again!Hostel view, brilliant again!

If only it weren´t for the noisy church over the road...
... or Gorilla War according to the museum!

Tim Version:
* Took a colectivo from Gotera to Perquin - my first one! Stayed in an average hostel.
* Looked around town and the museum - a little disappointed and sad!

The version I wish I didn´t have to write a big negatively, but its the only truthful way:

Perquin! Famed Perquin! Or at least it is if you are heading to El Salvador. A hotbed and control point of the rebel geurillas of the FMLN, its where the museums in San Salvador and elsewhere tell you to go if you want to see the real thing! I´d also heard of many other travellers going there and coming back saying its well worth a visit! Well, it is, but my reasons I think are a bit different to most...

From Gotera we caught a colectivo, my first one! A pickup/Ute with a cage thing over the back and sometimes a tarp for a roof like we had that is a makeshift mini bus! I hadn´t had the chance to catch one, and with minibuses, chicken buses, normal buses, Tuk tuks, taxis, and those rickshaw pedal bike things under my belt it was all I had left! I thought of it a plying routes not as popular as the buses, however in the back of one of these little things I counted up to 32 of us and am pretty sure I missed a few people while counting, its an incredible mission in Sardine packing! You´ve got to hope you get a good neighbour as they´re going to be smelling your armpit while you´re crushing them again other people for however long the ride is. They´re also not built for height, built for El Salvadorians obviously, and my head was pushing the tarp up and I´m not even tall! Those over about 5´10 you have my sincere sympathy! Eve however suited the size a whole lot better, and it gave me an excuse to wrap an arm around her and hug up so not too bad =)

We twisted our way North into the night time, slowly becoming a lighter load ending in both Eve and I getting a seat. Perquin is quite high up so you head into pine trees and that sort of fauna, and its very pretty. The town itself when we arrived
Paz all aroundPaz all aroundPaz all around

Paz = Peace. A strong message in Perquin.
was dark so we had no idea how big it was, and a guy asked us if we needed a hostel so we decided to give him a go and followed. The place he took us too looked great! Out the back of a shop, with a good kitchen that we grabbed some grub, coffee and beers from. We also met another bloke there from the UK who had been working in a Costa Rican call centre speaking english - don´t ask why, he couldn´t tell us either! - who was heading to Honduras to finish travel and head home. When it came time to look at our room, instead of just walking up the nice green leafy path behind the restaurant where it was all nicely laid out and looked great, we instead found out that it is 2 blocks away! Not only that but it was really basic and not that cheap. It did however have a working hot shower! Thankfully the British dude was the only other guy staying there, because the building is really just 2 big rooms, one on the left and one on the right. Inside these rooms is plywood that doesn´t reach the floor or roof. So, should there have been more, our lovely private room would have been only a metre and no noise barrier away from 2 others! Not a good place to make noise. That and from our spot we could hear every noise made in the shower and toilet. Ah well, can´t always stay in luxury!

The next morning Eve slept for a bit as she wasn´t feeling too well if I remember right, so I went and checked out the town. Turns out the other hostel is no better. The town is small and the central park quite pretty, and while it has some revolutionary murals around, it was nowhere near the revolutionary headquarters at every turn that others had made it out to be to me! I found the museum too, so I went back and collected Eve and we slowly dawdled our way up there..

Now I´m not sure what I was expecting... but it was better than this. It consists of about 3 rooms of photos and some small clippings from newspapers. In the first and second room some are translated to English, while others aren´t. There are also German newspaper clippings just in German. There is a couple of radios and a few weapons from that period, and that part of the collection I must say is fairly impressive, as well as parts of a crashed plane outside, but... this is meant to be their big war memorial! This to me should have been well laid out and funded and with much more in it. My problems with it were these: Firstly, the information is a bit scattered. You don´t know what happened in the war from this place, so unless you´ve read it beforehand it would be a bit of a mystery. Second, there just isn´t much content, its feeble. In a sketchy documentary I saw in Tacuba that Manolo had, I saw and learnt far far more! But they don´t have a TV or anything playing that at least. Thirdly, the translations. If I had better Spanish and was able, it would take an hour or less to translate the whole lot, but that hasn´t been done! The same with the German! Now why is it such a let down? Well, funding has to be a huge huge part where my blame lands on the government. Lack of ingenuity is
Translated, "Where are they?"Translated, "Where are they?"Translated, "Where are they?"

A seriously important issue, this is about the children stolen during the war, orphaned off to other places or disappeared. A cause I now have a personal connection to.
another, in that if you offered say free entry in exchange for translations, the place would be translated in a day. Should it have to be in English? No, it shouldn´t. But would they make a lot more money and significantly help the upkeep, expansion, and employment in the place if it was? Yes. Another possible problem, a hidden one, is that this war is full of bloody awful tragic US involvement that is often evil beyond comprehension. El Salvador and the US also seem to share a bed. See the problem? This may just be a token museum because it would be more obvious if one didn´t exist that the US was pressuring them not to print and reveal their level of involvement, but what shit is that. If you´re a traveller reading this and speak and english, and perhaps german too, please bare in mind putting some time aside and offer this place translations! I´m not sure of any other way a backpacker can help because it needs more material collected before it can expand, and that is really up to El Salvadorians, but the place is a tragedy!

The view from our hostel was awesome, but
Good morning!Good morning!Good morning!

Decided to join us for breakfast
day 2 where we just wanted to chill found another problem. The Church over the road. From earlier than 12 until around 8pm or more at night, it constantly broadcast prayers, people singing and playing instruments that had never done either in their life and made your ears hurt, and then inbetween the odd bit of rambling followed by that quiet-quiet-quiet-LOUD thing that evangelicals do to get that high out of their congregation. It was bad enough that to speak below a yell we had to leave our hostel and go to the park.

I also then found when I thought if I can´t relax then I´ll ring the folks, that the internet place with skype has a front door that also doubles as a truck stop, meaning it was always too loud to use the phone for more than a minute between trucks.

Now I still liked Perquin and I´m glad I went, but the place needs some serious help, especially the museum! Again my Spanish isn´t good enough to ask the questions and understand the answers needed to see why such problems exist, but if anyone finds out then please tell me!

* Foreign investment *
Some of this led me to a thought about foreign investment... some see it as a horrible evil thats taking away business opportunities for locals, and that its all too easy for foreigners to move into a country with a poorer economy such as here and buy up big. And all of that can be true. However, the truth I´ve found here is that often without the foreign investment, nothing exists! It might say take a foreigner opening a hostel for the locals to see that oh wow people like coming here, so they then open one. Meanwhile the town has now gained tourism helping the rest of it, IF thats what they want. Variation isn´t big here, and for good understandable reasons they run their businesses a certain way, but you need to run your business for your target audience, and the locals often do a poor job when aiming to backpackers. Having strict hours, a bland one colour place, and no noise but the same local repetitive radio station playing all the time just doesn´t work! Its not a compromise of morals, its not destroying their culture, its just smarter business. Same as if I opened a hotel for locals here then I couldn´t run it like I would run one in Aus, it just wouldn´t work! Murals, posters, a little variation in music, and a few plants go a very very long way. How about not having your mates blocking the entrance all the time, making it far less inviting to enter? Again, not a problem for people here as its more normal, but for the foreigners they seem to want to enter (enough to employ someone to stand at the bus station rounding people up) its not so good. Its a big big lesson I´ve learnt here for any future business I enter into and hopefully a valuable one... its just a little frustrating. Understandable totally, but still frustrating.


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