Autoboys and autogirls
One very peculiar aspect of Salvador life must be the pick-up truck travel. Anybody who has one uses the trunk as a space for transporting people rather than goods. Even when there is room inside beside the driver the preference of the passenger is to “mount” it from the back. One possible reason is that it offers wonderful breeze and feeling of freedom but this is only a speculation. Comments on this curious phenomenon are welcome. A side effect must be the uninterrupted line of plastic bottles and other garbage lining the road from frontier to frontier. It is so easy for anybody to relieve himself by throwing the bottle overboard that there is no time to consider other option especially when the example is already there, begging. Moreover, the plea of the government in the form of billboards in the city (limpiesa es salud) has not reached the country yet.
Ruínas de San Andrés
At the Archaeological Park of San Andrés you can see old Maya ruins, not as impressive as in Mexico and Guatemala, but still interesting. San Andrés was the capital of Valle de Zapotitlán between AD 600 - 900. At its peak it is believed that up to 12 000 people lived here. The park covers an area of 35 hectares and it was inaugurated in 1996.
The ruins of San Andrés were buried in 1658 when Vulcán Playón had an eruption and not until 1977 the pyramids of San Andrés were unearthed again. Not all mounds have jet been unearthed though. Excavations have mainly been done around the political and ceremonial centre. The main pyramid by the great plaza has a bell shape and it is 15 metres high. Nearby there is a subterranean tunnel. Restoration has been done and protective walls cover some of the ruins.
Near the car park there is nice museum which is good to visit before continuing to the ruins. There is also a café and a few souvenir stands. Next to the museum there is an indigo dying place from colonial times.
The Archaeological park is open Tuesdays - Sundays between 9 - 17.
Admission was 3 dollars (June 2009) for foreigners and 1 dollar for El Salvadorians.
I was very happy to visit San Andrés together with Nancy (VT-member conejita71) and her brother (Marco) and his wife (Ana Emma). Thank you so much for a great day!
If you come on your own San Andrés (together with Joya de Cerén) can easily be visited by bus from both San Salvador and Santa Ana. San Andrés is situated 33 km west of San Salvador.
Jardin Botánico La Laguna
When the sounds and the smells of the city get to be too much, take the 44 bus from Metrocentro and head out to the peaceful and lovely botanical gardens in Antiguo Cuscatlán. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 9-5; admission costs $1 for adults, $0.50 for children. In addition to a fine collection of native and non-native flora, the grounds (which are located at the base of an ancient volcano crater) are also home to some interesting fauna. Keep your eyes open, and in addition to the many resident lizards, you’ll probably also spot a cotuza (a rodent that resembles a small, tail-less beaver) walking along the paths. For more pictures of the gardens, check out my Jardin Botánico “La Laguna” Travelogue.
San Andrés, not far from La Joya de Cerén, provides visitors with another glimpse into pre-Colombian life in Central America. Although the pyramids here are not those of Tikal or the Yucatan, they are quite impressive, especially for those who have never visited pyramids before. A short hike from the visitors’ centre, the actual structures are in a meadow beautifully devoid of any development or human presence. The impression of solitude and abandonment is even stronger because of this, which helps to create a special feeling among visitors. The complex of pyramids that remains contains a court in which the indigenous communities – related to the Mayans – would play a game not dissimilar to basketball. Much of the court is now overgrown with grass and plants, but the pyramids themselves are still standing, and visitors can sit on the walls of the court and pretend that they are where spectators once watched incredible feats of strength and agility.
One of the establishments that makes up San Salvador's cultural scene is the Teatro Presidente, so-called because of the large number of busts and monuments to the country's various leaders (as well as to other individuals connected with the arts). This is, evidently, a sensitive structure, as I was warned by a soldier that I was not to take pictures of it. Nevertheless, it appears that the various performances put on here are open to the public, as are the grounds, where you can wander freely. Together with the MARTE, which is right next door, this completes one of the capital's largest cultural complexes, allowing visitors to the Sheraton some form of entertainment wihtout having to wander too far from the hotel.