El Salvador, December 2007

Well I can´t believe December is already upon us and that another week of my journey has flown by.  I started the week at Copan Ruinas in Honduras – the little town at the site of the most southerly city ruins from the Mayan civilization.  Although much smaller in size than the vast scattered temples of Tikal that I saw in Guatemala, Copan is a treasure trove of detailed sculpture, artworks and ornate architecture by comparison. Owing to a curious custom of the Copan dynasty of building temples on top of previous structures, much of the architectural intricacies have been preserved – including the Rosalilla temple which, when excavated from tunnels under another acropolis revealed a temple resplendent with painted stucco -vermillion, green and white and decorated with masks of the gods of the cosmos and the underworld.  I am just intrigued by this civilization which flourished over a millennium ago that had such a grasp of astronomy, the arts and sports, yet disappeared supposedly from an ecological disaster of their own creation – through deforestation, massive erosion, overpopulation and famine.

My subsequent plans for some jaguar spotting in the pristine jungle of the Mosquito Coast unfortunately fell through, so I detoured instead for several days in El Salvador.

El Salvador is not a particularly touristy place – but beautiful nonetheless with mountain vistas of cool pine forests, coffee plantations clinging to the steep slopes of volcanoes and a slice of the pacific coast as well.  It is still recovering from the scars of its long civil war that ended less than a decade ago.  After visiting several countries now, including Rwanda and Uganda also, that have lived through recent atrocities I am amazed by the friendliness and warmth that these people exude.  I admire the strength of their communities and the humanistic qualities of these people – especially with a foreigner in their midst whom they might have much to reproach.

It is not well known that the USA pumped over $600 billion into supporting the previous brutal government of El Salvador´s military as it protected the ownership and interests of the elite coffee plantations from the poor majority.  For an economy almost 90% reliant on coffee exports, peace has finally come with a death toll of over 75, 000 and with a compromise of redistribution of ownership of land and political representation of the masses.

We have quickly forgotten the Iran-Contra affair from the 1980s when Ronald Reagan sold weapons to Iran ät inflated prices in order to fund the Contra revolutionary army based primarily in Honduras as the U.S. CIA attempted to unsuccessfully oust the unsympathetic government of Nicaragua (over banana plantations this time!).  Humour me here as enemies and terrorism, it seems, are just a matter of perspective!

Well that´s the serious side to travel over – but for me it´s as much about broadening horizons and opinions as about the scenery and adventures.  The travelling in El Salvador was not so easy, and after having spent more than 20 hours on buses in the last few days, I have now arrived back at the Caribbean coast in Honduras and I am ready for my hammock again!

“When we have experienced a deep connection to others and the greater world it is impossible to deny this truth.  Once we have seen the invisible threads that bind everything together it is impossible to act as an isolated being.”

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