Routes from San Miguel

San Francisco Gotera and around

The capital of Morazán Department can be reached directly from the Oriente terminal in San Salvador, or from San Miguel. There are places to stay.

Beyond San Francisco, the road runs to
Jocaitique
(there is a bus) from where an unpaved road climbs into the mountains through pine forests to
Sabanetas
, near the Honduran border. Accommodation is available at Jocaitique and Sabanetas.

Northeast of San Francisco is
Corinto
, which has two rock overhangs showing faint evidence of pre-Columbian wall paintings.

Ciudad Segundo Montes and around

Eight kilometres north of San Francisco Gotera is Ciudad Segundo Montes, a group of villages housing 8500 repatriated Salvadorian refugees (the community is named after one of the six Jesuit priests murdered at the Central American University in November 1989). Schafic Vive is a small museum with information on the community.

Fourteen kilometres north of San Francisco is
Delicias de la Concepción
, where fine decorated hammocks and ceramics are made. The prices are good and the people are helpful; worth a visit. Buses every 20 minutes from San Francisco.

Perquín and around

Perquín - meaning 'Road of the Hot Coals'- is 205 km from San Salvador and was the guerrillas' 'capital', and the scene of much military activity. War damage used to be visible around the town, but all is now peaceful and the scenery is very beautiful, surrounded by pine-topped mountains. There is a small central square with a Casa de la Cultura, post office and a PRODETUR
tourist information office
. Opposite is the plain Iglesia Católica Universal Progresista.

The
Museo de la Revolución
, clearly signposted from the plaza, has temporary exhibits as well as one on Archbishop Romero and all the gory details of his murder - nothing is spared. The museum, run by ex-guerrillas, is badly lit, but fascinating with photographs, propaganda posters, explanations, objects, pictures of the missing, and military paraphernalia. In the garden is the wreckage of an American-made helicopter, shot down by guerrillas in 1984. Sprawled like a piece of modern art, it would look at home in a contemporary art gallery. There is also a room where a recreated cabin shows the place from where the clandestine radio
Venceremos
broadcast their programmes during the war.

Behind the town is the
Cerro de Perquín
. The views are fantastic with the town below nestling in the tropical scenery, green parrots flying through the pine trees, and the mountains stretching towards the border with Honduras. The
Festival de Invierno
, 1-6 August, is a mixture of music, exhibitions and film. Book accommodation in advance if planning to come for the festival. The
Festival de San Sebastián
is on 21-22 January, and the celebration of the
Virgen del Tránsito
, the patron saint of the church, takes place 14-15 August.

Nearby villages such as Arambala and El Mozote can be visited, or you can take a walking tour. At
El Mozote
is a recently built memorial to a massacre that took place in 1981, during which more than 300 people, among them children, were killed. Five kilometres west of Perquín is
Arambala
, which is slowly being rebuilt. Locals will give you a tour of the town and church, which was destroyed by fire in the 1980s. Near Perquín, turn-off 2 km south, are the park and trails of
Cerro Pelón
. Nearby is
El Llano del Muerto
, a tourist area of naturally heated pools and wells. North of Perquín, straddling the new border with Honduras, is one of the few unpolluted rivers in the country. The people of Morazán are more reserved with strangers than in the rest of El Salvador. If travelling on your own, 4WD is advised.

Ruta de la Paz
run by
PRODETUR
, provides walks, culture and adventure tourism, and can organize accommodation. Tours are between 25 minutes and two days, and for one to 10 people. Ask for Serafín Gomez, who is in charge of the tours.

Santa Rosa de Lima

The shortest route from San Miguel to the Honduran border takes the Ruta Militar northeast through Santa Rosa de Lima to the Goascarán bridge at El Amatillo, a total of 58 km on paved road.

Santa Rosa is a charming little place with a wonderful colonial church set in the hillside. There are gold and silver mines, a market on Wednesday, and a curiously large number of pharmacies and shoe shops. The FMLN office has details about the
Codelum Project
, a refugee camp in Monte Barrios. The fiesta is on 22-31 August.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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