Monday, November 19, 2012

Exploring the ruins

A delightful excursion yesterday - the Burgos family invited me to go with them to Tazumal, the largest and grandest of El Salvador's Mayan ruins.  We were joined by Jennifer, a norteamericana newly in El Salvador who teaches English subjects to Camila Burgos and her classmates in a bilingual school. 

Seeing Tazumal and listening to our very knowledgeable guide (above), I was reminded how recent we people of European stock and tradition are in this land's long history.  Tazumal and its surroundings have been continuously inhabited since about (hope I'm remembering this correctly) 1000 B.C.E., and the area is full of unexcavated remains from those earlier days.  Here's the main temple:

That earlier world still survives in many ways - in customs, in agricultural practices, in foods, in ceremonies, in family traditions - though in El Salvador it's been pretty thoroughly "translated" and blended into Latin-American life.  And, of course, that world survives in the people, especially in the campo: even though very few any longer speak Nahuat or Lenca, they carry the history in blood and bone. 

We finished our visit as those ancestors might have, walking across the street for lunch at a restaurant serving yucca, the premier dish of Chalchuapa, where Tazumal is located.   Yucca salchichada con chicharĂ³n and yucca frita con curtido - boiled yucca (tastes like the best potato you can imagine, only better) with pork rinds, and fried yucca with vinegar slaw - delicious.  Gracias a los Burgos for a wonderful day.

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