Deeper into El Salvador and its History

Trip Start Nov 26, 2005
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Trip End Nov 26, 2006


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Flag of El Salvador  ,
Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Next I visited the extremely pretty colonial town of Suchitoto in the north. It reminded me of my favourite Antigua, Guatemala but without any tourists! There were some lovely hotels & restaurants with stunning views over the huge lake, & a fab cafe on the square where I indulged in an odd cafe latte or 4! I walked down to the lakeside, visited the art galleries & went out for pupusas & beers with some local guys I met. Pupusas are tortillas filled with cheese, beans or whatever, & lightly fried on a hot plate, very cheap, filling & usually delicious! The older local men all wore cowboy-style hats & carried machetes in ornate leather holders, making for good photo opportunities!

The friendly tourist info lady mentioned a possibility of doing a home stay & 24 hrs later I arrived in the community of La Mora for a possible 2 night stay that became 6 ! It was a fantastic experience, living with part of a family of 9 siblings - those who didnīt live there visited often, so there was a constant flow of grandchildren, cousins etc. I had excellent spanish lessons with the older brother Miguel, who became a good friend. We went cycling & walking together so really the whole day was a lesson! The official hours were a bargain at only $2 ( Ģ1.30ish) each. I went for a hike up the extinct volcano Guazapa with neighbour Louis, passing through hills where he had fought for 4 yrs as a guerrilla during the bitter civil war. He showed me holes in the ground where they had slept of hidden to avoid the army & its airborne bombs.

The awful civil war of 1981-1992 was caused by grievances against the extreme & widespread poverty & the rich minority. In 1977 about 300 unarmed protesters were massacred by the army in the capital, & the final straw was the state-sanctioned assassination in 1980 of Archbishop Romero in his church, by an army officer. Military death-squads terrorized reformers, inciting left-wing guerillas to fight back as the newly-formed F.M.L.N. & all-out war began. In northern town Mozote over 1000 people were systematically murdered by U.S. trained troops, in an infamous massacre that is still being investigated. The war was sustained by the U.S, whose Reagan administration was paranoid about communists & somehow thought that a totally corrupt & repressive right-wing government was better than giving reforms to the poor.They gave billions of dollars officially & unofficially to government causes. 1000's died & the country was torn apart as 1/2 million people fled to other countries for the duration. La Mora was typical of a hard-hit country village, nearly everyone left, a few remained to fight against the army in the hills, & its re-population is still continuing.
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