After breakfast, we took a panoramic city tour of San Salvador, passing the National Palace and the Catedral Metropolitana in the city center, a military museum and then, we set off to explore Joya de Ceren (Jewel of Cerén), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the first of five Mayan archaeological sites we will visit. The military museum had an incredibly detailed relief map of the area showing all of the mountains, cities, towns and villages, well worth the stop just for the map. Inside were some very powerful paintings depicting the struggles of the Mayan people through history.
Monument to Heroes and National Palace
Located about 30 minutes northwest of San Salvador, Joya de Ceren was a farming community buried under an eruption of the Laguna Caldera volcano c. AD 600. Because of the exceptional condition of the remains, the site provides detailed information about the daily lives of ancient Mayan farmers who lived here. It was discovered during the construction of grain-storage silos in 1976, when a bulldozer exposed a clay-built structure and is still being excavated. Evidence suggests that the inhabitants were able to evacuate as the eruption destroyed their village, but they left utensils and textiles behind that provide revealing glimpses of Mayan life more than a millennium ago. From Joya de Cerén, we head to the border of Honduras — bound for the town of Copán. Because of a series of long traffic delays caused by protestors blocking a major highway in San Salvador and later by a fatal accident we arrived at our hotel in Copán quite late and were happy to forego dinner and just head to bed.
It was a long day.