Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Off the Beaten Path: Cerro de Perquin

One day, my husband and I ended up in the department of Morazan, just north of the town of Perquin. We were with a friend who had driven us from San Salvador and who had walked with us through the places and the stories which still hold sad and difficult memories from the war. Our friend, deeply affected by the experience we shared in El Mozote, suggested we go to a park on the top of a hill so that we could stand where we could feel like we could fly. We ended up on the top of Cerro de Perquin.

It was lovely. The stiff cool breeze, the smell of the pine trees, the laughter of young people who had gathered for a picnic, helped to calm our spirits. "Put your arms out, and stand on the edge - it looks like you're flying!" Our friend demonstrated. We laughed, took turns flying, and enjoyed the beautiful views of Honduras and Morazan (El Salvador).

As we walked, I noticed some ants, busily cutting leaves and carrying them off to their nest. I think it's always important to look down as well as to look up. Our friend laughed at me when I took a picture.

During the war, Perquin was at the center of the guerrilla-controlled area of the country, and the town served as the "unofficial" capital. As we walked down the hill, our friend showed us a bunker where FMLN guerrillas once took shelter.

The Museum of the Salvadoran Revolution is located in town, just south of the hill. There were several guides - each with his own room of artifacts to describe and collection of stories to share. Clothing, equipment, weapons, documents and many photos. All of the everyday tools of war are preserved here, from the very small and ordinary to the large helicopter wreckage of Colonel Monterrosa. It seemed very important to listen, even if some of the slurry Spanish was challenging to understand. They needed to tell, and we needed to listen.

Originally, we had thought about staying overnight in Perquin. But, it wasn't too late, so we decided to make the drive back to our friend's house near San Salvador and to surprise his wife. We stayed there for the night. It was good to hear our friend share his perspective on our adventures of the day. He spoke long and seriously about his own experiences during the war, and his desire to share the important lessons of that time with the children in his community.

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