Read more about the article Managua – Nicaragua
Managua - Nicaragua

Managua – Nicaragua

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The Bride of Xolotlan

Our next country in this tour, Nicaragua, and base in its capital city of Managua for the next 5 days. With this we mark the country visited number 76, a whooping increasing number, although it is becoming harder and harder to raise the number, unless we start doing some cruising by the Caribbean, Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia, and the biggest “unknown” Africa which I must confess I am not too confident because of the safety there.

While not many years ago Nicaragua ranked as a dangerous country to visit, with their civil war troubles, troubled government, poverty and overall instability; it has recovered from everything to the point of being the safest country in Central America out of the 7 that form it. Of course, like everywhere in the world, minding and caring for your staff and knowing where you go and where you should not is a prime rule, but indeed and after coming from El Salvador where we were having eyes even in our backs, Nicaragua was very pleasant anywhere, and Managua quite a relaxed place to be.

The only downside of the city comes since the 1972 earthquake. It was 23rd of December with everyone in Christmas spirit celebrations when the fate changed forever. Almost everything was lost, an entire city flattened with very few buildings surviving, some of which in a poor state and crumbling and not possible even to use them up to this date. The old cathedral is the best example, left as a monumental reminder of what once was a historical city with beautiful buildings, and the few that is left here today. (more…)

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Read more about the article San Miguel – El Salvador
San Miguel - El Salvador

San Miguel – El Salvador

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San Miguel de la Frontera

Our last day in El Salvador, and as planned some months ago, it would be for visiting the city of San Miguel in the east of the country, not far from the border with Nicaragua. Although being the 4th largest city in the country, it was the most difficult to find accurate information over the internet, or good pictures to make a judgement prior our planned trip. After our visit, I no longer wonder why the lack of proper information, or why not even a realistic map of the city. Well, there is nothing, NOTHING to make this trip worth it at all. It was completely a waste of time and entire day. Spending almost 3 hours on the most annoying ever bus ride to get there, and the same to return was a killer for just arrive there and see everything is a complete disaster, ugly and not worth it at all.

Yes it is true the city follows the very same plan as any Central American city or specially how the cities in El Salvador are planned, with a central square where the Cathedral and theatre is, and then 3 primary churches completing an alignment with the Cathedral as a cross and clearly marking north/south, east/west. That, is all there. And even though the Cathedral is a much newer reincarnation after the original was severely damaged on an earthquake, still a nice building. But all the hassle for only 4 religious buildings and a theatre does not make any sense whatsoever and if you have the chance now that you are reading this, do not waste your time and plan something else instead.

If I was somewhat disappointed when visiting San Salvador, unfortunately San Miguel topped it all. Every street is kind of a mess of non valuable buildings. Do not expect to see here colonial architecture since that is long time gone after many earthquakes and volcano eruptions. A very unfortunate location for a city right through the Ring of Fire. Don’t take me wrong but majority of the Central American large and/or important cities have suffered the same fate, but knew how to rebuild themselves and how to protect them in many cases like Antigua in Guatemala, Leon or Granada in Nicaragua, Panama City and many others. (more…)

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Read more about the article Santa Ana – El Salvador
Santa Ana - El Salvador

Santa Ana – El Salvador

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Sihuatehuacan: Place of Priestesses

Santa Ana is the third largest city in El Salvador, and without any doubt the most beautiful in the entire country that we visited, for the amount of well preserved colonial architecture and great shape and care of everything, even if the refurbishment and restoration of many buildings is still ongoing. Important to add here is that after the extreme disappointment of the disastrous capital city San Salvador, and overall the entire country, it is this area on the west where you can find really pretty villages and charming little cities right in the middle of unspoiled nature. While we decided to do the Maya Route, you can also do what is called the Route of the Flowers which for sure you won’t be disappointing, to the point you will actually keep a great memory of your trip to El Salvador.

For us, unfortunately, time was on our back all the time, and I did not even heard about the Route of the Flowers until after our Maya Tour and Santa Ana. This meant leaving us without any possible change of plans around to get onto that tour.

Santa Ana for us was one of the highlights in the Maya Route. So right after visiting Joya de Ceren and San Andres, our guide took us to Santa Ana where we had time to explore this beautiful city and enjoy lunch on what was another splendid sunny and hot day. It is true we would have welcomed to spend a bit more time in this city, but the overall tour was already long and busy enough therefore it just hit the spot. It was perhaps some 3 hours no more until returning to the transit and move on to the last site of this tour, the ruins of El Tazumal, nearby. (more…)

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Read more about the article Joya de Ceren, San Andres, Tazumal – El Salvador
Joya de Ceren, San Andres & Tazumal - El Salvador

Joya de Ceren, San Andres, Tazumal – El Salvador

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Pompeii of the Americas

Continuing our tour in El Salvador, we spared today for doing what is known as the Maya Route. Although within the country there are many hundreds of known Maya places, the majority of them remain unexcavated, with only 8 sites out of 11 in total currently open to the public (as of January 2016). 3 of them are the ones offered in this route, which also are the best ones and unique not only to El Salvador but across the entire former Maya civilisation area. The good side is that all of them are within easy reach from the capital, hence another reason why to have your base in San Salvador would work perfectly as we did.

Joya de Ceren, nicknamed as the Mayan Pompeii or Pompeii of the Americas, is not for coincidence. The fate of this ancient city was the very same as that of the Roman city in Italy. The volcano next door once abruptly erupted and buried the city well deep in hot ash and pyroclastic flow, 10 layers to be precise, meaning the level of conservation is quite immaculate and to this date, the only one example of Maya city where one can see how the people really lived 1400 years ago, with their houses, their utensils, cultivated land and even food. That’s right, it was dinner time when the eruption occurred and while the people had enough time to flee for their lives, they left absolutely everything behind. A proper time capsule like no other that brought to live many of the unknown facts of the daily lives of the Maya. No corpse whatsoever have ever been found in the site, another indication that proves they could escape prior to the destruction.

Although it is known to be there at least 40 structures, only 10 have been entirely excavated and put on display at great care. The reason why they cannot continue excavations is that once open and exposed again to the air after that many hundreds of years, they cannot stop nor control them from deteriorating. Nevertheless, the ones you can see today are an amazing example to give you an idea. (more…)

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Read more about the article Suchitoto – El Salvador
Suchitoto - El Salvador

Suchitoto – El Salvador

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Kingdom of Birds and Flowers

Our first day trip while in El Salvador after visiting the capital city, San Salvador, the day before, was for doing this rather quiet and relaxing visit to this small town. Located to the north of the capital, at only 50 kilometres, is a really nice and charming place if what you are looking is to have bygone colonial feel. The luck of this town having survived most earthquakes and eruptions from the nearby volcanoes is something that San Salvador did not have; and as such, it is no surprise now you see in travel books Suchitoto is in the colonial route in the country.

The town lies less than 2 kilometres inland from the Suchitlan Lake, which is in fact a man-made lake created by the dam. The nature surrounding the place is really nice, with also many small islands, all of which you can see if taking boat from the pier located at the Malecon. Negotiate the price and try to lower it down since you will be quoted way over the average, especially if you are a non Spanish speaking.

Other than this, and because of the very small size of the town, there is nothing else I can really tell you about in this introduction. Remember not to wake up too early to get here, as you will have plenty of time. As I mentioned before, this is a great excursion to break in between other heavier tours. It is always good to have in between an already crazy non-stop trip through Central America as we were doing some other days with more relaxed and easy tours


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Read more about the article San Salvador – El Salvador
San Salvador - El Salvador

San Salvador – El Salvador

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El Valle de Las Hamacas: The Valley of Hammocks

Continuing southeast on our Central America trip after Guatemala and Honduras, we arrive to San Salvador, the capital city of the next country in our list. Country visited number 75 to this date! That’s a whopping number already, and for the many more to come year after year, fingers crossed. And what a day to arrive here, New Year’s Eve. This is not the first time we are at some random destination and/or trip for this date. I can still remember Mexico City 2 years ago, Hong Kong 3 or Varanasi already 4 years ago. I do not need to have a party at all on this day, I rather prefer travel anywhere, and even if I have to eat for dinner a take away, I would be very happy to do so, as long I am somewhere in the world. We had in any case a really nice dinner and party at the hotel.

El Salvador, likewise any other Central American country, lies in the extremely active Ring of Fire, with many active volcanoes everywhere. You do not need to look any far from the city, and you will clearly see San Salvador Volcano (or Quetzaltepec). Volcano eruptions and earthquakes are responsible for the destruction of majority of the original historical buildings from the Spanish colonial times. The current reincarnation is a modern city with quite poor and decaying infrastructure that will barely coop with a possible strong earthquake. No wonder why the Spanish nicknamed it “El Valle de las Hamacas (The Valley of Hammocks)” in allusion to the need for beds that would sway with the earth’s movements during an earthquake.

Classical, ne-Gothic, art-deco and modernist architecture now fills the streets, with an ongoing frenetic construction round the clock in the new outskirt areas around the wealthier neighbourhoods. Still, if you are having in mind visiting the city, you will be certainly disappointed. Really few buildings are worth, while the rest of the city centre is an eyesore of chaotic and dirty rundown streets among an uncertainty of safety concerns. I can honestly say that walking around San Salvador has given me the feeling of one of the most unsafe place I’ve ever been to, however and very important to mention here, it was also one with such a thriving nightlife and amount of bars and discos full of great people, that somewhat it really confused me when having this points in a balance.


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Read more about the article Copan Ruinas – Honduras
Copan Ruinas - Honduras

Copan Ruinas – Honduras

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One of the four Maya capitals

At one of the highlights on this Central America trip without any doubt! The ancient Maya city of Copan in Honduras, which in fact was one of the four capitals of this ancient civilization, in this case the eastern capital. The others were Tikal to the north (in Guatemala), Palenque and Calakmul to the west (in Mexico). Having been already in Tikal before, now in Copan, the remaining 2 as of today are on the scope to be the next candidates, hopefully soon. The four capitals were also some of the largest Maya cities and as such, the incredible amount of structures to see is large, yet bearing in mind only a small portion is excavated on them. Did I also mentioned Honduras counts as of today as a new country that I have not been before? This means country visited number 74!.

While if Tikal was an easy trip from Flores in Guatemala, the nearest larger city, and the visit itself, even through right in the middle of the jungle, was quite easy to navigate; in the case of Copan this was way much more laid back, and reaching this place from Guatemala City was a lengthily but comfortable bus ride. Go and back in the same day. Exhausting and tiring but well worth it if you ask me.

Both Copan and the northern capital, Tikal, have a lot to share in common. While if architecture, structures and construction across the Maya civilization do not vary much (unless for the the northern region of Yucatan with the clear Puuc style), the location of the cities vary. In this case, both were created in the middle of the jungle hence why they were “lost” for so many centuries, buried deep beneath the overgrown nature. It is up to date that excavations are still ongoing, and you can guess the many small buried pyramids and other structures under the massive roots of the trees and vegetation. Only a small portion of the city has been uncovered. (more…)

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Read more about the article Pacaya Volcano – Guatemala
Pacaya Volcano - Guatemala

Pacaya Volcano – Guatemala

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One of the most active volcano in Guatemala

Once again, at the beginning of another tour. 3 weeks holidays through 5 countries in Central America. While we arrived into Guatemala City the day before, the reason for returning to Guatemala was not just by coincidence but on purpose. The last time we were here was 2 years ago and we wanted to visit the Pacaya Volcano. Said to be the most active in the country. But due to time constraints we could not manage to get any spare time to do so. Of course in any case, just a volcano is not major reason to decide by all means having to arrive here. The second reason, and major one, was to be able to get to the Maya city of Copan just across the border from Guatemala to Honduras. Since flying into Honduras was not optional at all, Guatemala City was the best choice for the reasons above and for the great air fare deal with Iberia.

Only a quick note here as I will further expand in the next travelguide, Copan was one of the four Maya capitals, being the others Tikal (in Guatemala), Palenque and Calakmul (in Mexico). Having been already in Tikal, and Copan on this trip, the remaining 2 as of today are highly on the scope to be the next candidates soon.

Somehow in the other hand, putting aside how many sights Guatemala has across its land, it is one of the countries I feel quite confident and good. The people, the food, the beauty. All adds up even though it is not one of the safest place to be. At least Guatemala City is not somewhere you can stroll as you would do anywhere in Europe without worry, nor you would once it gets dark. Yet in any case comparing the latest visit with the one 2 years back, the improvements in every sense are very obvious. Better infrastructure, ongoing construction and overall increase in wealth. (more…)

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