Saturday, August 6, 2005
Three Pictures from El Salvador
My wife and I backpacked through El Salvador this summer, exploring the countryside, visiting coffee farms and anil factories, sampling pupusas in the capital and beyond. A poetic highlight was staying in Santa Ana with Javier, the owner of Casa Frolaz. I showed him my copy of Volcan, a collection of exiled Latin American poets. The book includes one of my favorite poets, Claribel Alegria. Javier said, "Oh, Claribel. Her niece lives next door." I couldn't believe it! Alongside Roque Dalton and Hugo Lindo, Alegria is the best of the Salvadoran poets, in my opinion. Javier, whose grandfather is considered the Father of Salvadoran coffee, told us great stories about Alegria, her time in Santa Ana, and her leaving for Nicaragua to the south. For the record, if you are traveling to Central America and want to experience some less-touristy places for a little while, I recommend El Salvador. It's not Disneyland, but it's relatively safe, beautiful, and the people are among the nicest we've met anywhere in the world.
A few random photos from our trip:
* a view from Volcan Izalco (the title reference from one of Alegria's novels, Ashes of Izalco). It's still classified as active, though it hasn't erupted since 1957. We rode by horseback for two hours to get to the base, then hiked for about four hours up and back.
* propaganda for the FMLN (Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front), the political party born out of the 1932 uprising of peasants and indigenous Salvadorans. Marti, the uprising's leader, was arrested and killed by firing squad, but the party presereves his name. They remain active and popular, despite Tony Saca's recent Presidential election victory for the Arena party.
* an employee at the ranch-style resort, Casiero Texcalito, trying to catch a raccoon. The German Shepherd enjoyed the show as much as we did. Taking a break from Salvador's amazing sights such as Parque Nacional El Impossible, raccoon watching is always a nice way to start the morning.