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For our second excursion we drove about 4 hours to the other side of the country—the Eastern side close to the Honduran border. Our first stops were at Tricia (works for EcoViva) and Lolo’s (Lolo is one of our drivers) houses. Now that we had our complete group of 16 people we were off for a nice short road trip across the country. Among other things we saw on the drive were many flaming fields of sugar cane, boys on the street selling iguanas, motorcycles being sold at $75, and anything from a villa to the smallest of shacks. One of the reasons why the trip to Perquín took us the time it did was due to our three restroom breaks. I’m glad everyone seems to be staying hydrated, but some of us must really have bladders the size of a peanut. The breaks were nice though, I even enjoyed a delicious Magnum

Ice Cream (Almond flavored), some of Brittany’s chocolate-covered coffee beans, and some baby green mangos with salt and chili.

IMG_8834 The drive into the mountains was beautiful. The landscape suddenly changed to a completely different mix of vegetation and temperatures dropped from the humid high thirties of the lower parts of El Salvador, to an enjoyable upper 20’s. When we drove up to our hotel in Perquín, I was blown away by how gorgeous the hotel was. It was as if we had landed in the Rocky Mountains along a ski-lodge. Our big group was split up into groups of 2s, 3, and 5s and each group moved into a luxurious log cabin for our two day stay. Each cabin was surrounded by tropical plants and came with a nice balcony and hammock. Wonderful!!

For lunch, we walked up the hill to downtown Perquín for Pupusas. We had actually added an additional member to our group—Max, a friend of Molly’s (our Graduate Assistant for this trip) and a current PeaceCorp Volunteer stationed in El Salvador. He’s been in El Salvador for 2.5 years now and knows the area around Perquín like the back of his hand. After lunch we hiked further up the hill to the Museo de la Revolución.

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For the first half of the war, the government had intentionally massacred civilians. Here in Perquin, the rebels mounted their resistance.

Terrible things were done on both sides, and by the end, the 12 year long civil war left approximately 75,000 dead and millions on the run and scattered to all corners of the world.

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The museum in Perquín is the most famous museum in El Salvador, operated by former ERD (FMLN) guerrillas. It includes a building with all sorts of pictures, newspaper articles, posters
written in Spanish, Catalán, English and German (from former East-Germany [DDR]), old armory, and incredible biographies of the people involved in the war from Perquín.

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Outside the first building are the remnants of a helicopter.

The story behind the helicopter is this:

One of the buildings up here on the mountain used to be a radio station, where rebels transmitted news, views, tunes and left-wing soap operas making fun of the government le

aders.

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When Commander Domingo Monterrosa (who was also responsible for the El Mozote Massacre) captured the radio station, he took the radio transmitter with him as a trophy. The rebels had assumed he would do so and had booby-trapped the transmitter. Mid-flight over the mountains, the helicopter exploded. There is also a huge crater right next to the museum building, which is where a US bomb exploded.

It was fascinating to hear first-hand experiences from some of the guides at the museum. I talked to a guide about my surprise to see so many posters in German, and he said the Germans along with many other Europeans came to the aide of thousands of Salvadorans. He had lost his sight when a bomb exploded near him, but because of the amazing work of an Irish doctor he had regained his vision.

We also hiked up to the top of the mountain and took great pictures of the view from the peak. From here we could see the mountains separating El Salvador from Honduras. Jose, a child-soldier during the war, told me about his terrible experiences. We took a nice group photo and one with Jose as well.

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