Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Friday, February 19, 2016 – Acajutla, El Salvador – Mostly Sunny – 90F

Distance from Caldera to Acajutla, El Salvador: 424 Nautical Miles

Port Information.  El Salvador is Central America’s smallest country (the size of Massachusetts).  The country is located in the Ring of Fire so it has several volcanoes along with national parks and nice beaches.  Acajutla is a commercial port but the tourist folks have constructed a small recreational area (including a nice beach).  The El Salvadorian Civil War ended in 1992.  The main export is coffee but tourism is trying to make an impact on the economy.  Cerro Verde National Park is home to several volcanoes.

A very nice morning for breakfast on the back deck.



Once docked, I could get a good view of Acajutla from the ship.  The recreational area is off to the right of the pier and may not be visible in the picture below.

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Acajutla from the Journey

I wasn’t scheduled to go on tour today but picked up a tour by showing up at the Cabaret Theater in the morning.   The tour is actually the one I wanted to take: “Volcano Complex and Mayan Ritual”.  It turned out to be an interesting set up – we are in a minivan and everyone on the van is part of a Canadian Group (including the travel agent that set up their cruise). 

It took a little less than an hour to reach the Cerro Verde National park.  I was in a single seat on the van (2 and 1 configuration), which was pretty comfortable.

We made two brief stops on way up to the park.  The first was to get a panoramic view of the mountain range


and the second was to get a preview of one of the volcanoes.  This one is a cinder cone type called Izalco.  We will get a better view later.


Izalco Volcano


Checking In and Buying Tickets

The Park Entrance was a large open area, which branched out to various paths.

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One side of the open entrance area featured a terraced flower garden.


The group was joined by a mini-folkloric group of musicians (actually a father and son, probably).  The Canadians immediately broke into a dance and soon everyone but me was dancing.

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Canadians Dancing to Local Band

We started our tour by walking into the crater of one of the volcanoes.  It was difficult to tell that we were in the crater because the entire area was full of plants and trees (per the sign below).


Inside the Crater

The vegetation in the crater and on the hiking path was varied and thick.


We gave way to a group of hikers headed for their climb up the volcano.  What made it interesting is that they were accompanied by armed guards front and back.  Our total hike was indicated to be about 1.5 miles and the surface was very difficult – stairs composed to dirt and tree limbs (marking the edge of the stair).  Some of the passengers had real difficulty with the hiking path.

After a while, we came across a viewpoint – the guide pointed out that the volcano is the distance was the San Salvador Volcano.


San Salvador Volcano

Also in view was a lake (Lago de Coatepeque) and a smaller volcano – San Marcelino – that had spawned a lava flow that level level kilometers of land in the recent past.

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San Marcelino Volcano


San Salvador Volcano

I asked a passenger to take a picture of me against the valley, lake, and volcanoes.


I was there

Our guide stopped to point out a tree, which is the oldest tree in the National Park.  He also pointed out that the tree consisted of two species that had grown together about half way up to the top.



Two Trees Fused

After the hike, we sat in a circle to watch the Mayan Shaman Ritual.  The Shaman did some chants, lit some fires, threw some candles of varying colors into the flame, threw cacao beans into the flames and poured some kind of liquid onto the ground.  I had little if any idea what was going on.  We were offered some hot chocolate (cacao connection) and native bread – I took one sip and just one bite – wasn’t quite sure about the food.  The ceremony ended when each of us threw a candle into the flame.  In my opinion, the ritual was too repetitious and ran a bit long.

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Shaman Ritual

Before we left the park, we walked over to another viewpoint to get another look at the two volcanoes (Santa Ana and Izalco).  The Izalco Volcano served as a lighthouse during its active period – it is sometimes called the “Lighthouse Volcano”.


Ilamatepec (Santa Ana Volcano)


Coastal Mountain Range


Izalco Volcano

Although it was “French Buffet Night” in Windows, we ate there because they still made pasta to order.   The meal was OK.

Tonight’s Showtime was the Production Show - “Play, Stop, Rewind”.  The show has a lot of energy and there were some new songs.  This was Becky’s – she’s the new singer/dancer – first production show.  She did a good job under tough circumstances.

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“Play, Stop, Rewind”

After the show, we spent some time in the Mosaic Café and then it was a day.

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