el salvador

Posted by susan on December 29th, 2008. Filed under: getaways.

El Salvador seems to have a constant soundtrack – Reggaeton. With it blaring in the background, I spent my first day hopping on and off revamped U.S. school buses, looking down while each salesman that jumped on at every stop tried to sell their sketchy products, and traveled through the center of San Salvador all the way to La Puerta del Diablo (Devil’s Door). In 1762 a storm created this stone formation which looks like a door that slices through the mountain of Cerro del Chulo and opens up to reveal the the Pacific coast, Lake Ilopango, San Vicente volcano, and the Cerro de las Pavas.


From the top of the mountain there was a gorgeous view.

Puerta Del Diablo

And here is what seems to be a watchtower, though I am not sure how it was used.

Puerta Del Diablo

In addition to admiring the beautiful countryside on the outskirts of San Salvador and enjoying delicious pupusas, I also had the opportunity to visit Sue’s work.



Here, Sue handles delegations in which participants, who fly in from various countries, learn from the Salvadoran people about their lives and their history. While I wasn’t there with a group on a delegation, I feel like I had a mini-immersion experience.

One day, Sue took me to Centro Monseñor Romero – named after Archbishop Oscar Romero – on the campus of the UCA (University of Central America).

The Civil War lasted from 1980 until the Peace Accords were signed in 1992. During this time, six Jesuit priests – Ignacio Ellacuria, Segundo Montes, Ignacio Martin-Baro, Joaquin Lopez y Lopez, Juan Ramon Moreno, and Amado Lopez – were killed by the Salvadoran Army on November 16, 1989 on the UCA’s campus.

It occurred in a courtyard which stands as a rose garden, today.


The housekeeper Elba Ramos and her daughter Celia Marisela Ramos were also murdered. The museum also has artifacts and personal items from the six Jesuits and two women, including the bloodstained clothing they were wearing at the time of death. It also has artifacts from other martyrs during the war, including Dorothy Kazel, an Ursuline nun.


After walking through what was one of the most surreal experiences of my life, standing in places I had seen in movies watched at my Jesuit University, and piecing together a history that I had studied in my Faith-Justice courses, Sue and I visited the home and the place of death of Oscar Romero.

On March 24, 1980 Oscar Romero was assassinated by a single sniper’s bullet while performing mass in the Chapel of Divine Providence in San Salvador.


He was shot standing in the center of the picture above.

During my visit to El Salvador, we also saw the Civil War Memorial which lists the names of nearly 30,000 people who were killed or disappeared during the war – it is still incomplete.


Next to the memorial is a mural that represents the history and the struggle of El Salvador’s indigenous people through Spanish Colonization to today.


El Salvador Mural at Civil War Memorial


Another day, we hustled through the center of San Salvador on the infamous buses and when the number of street vendors grew so much that they clogged traffic, we jumped off knowing that we could walk more swiftly through them.  On one of my last days, we visited the National Cathedral and burial place of Oscar Romero.

San Salvador National Cathedral

As morbid as I made the latter half of my stay in El Salvador seem in this post, it was really one of my most memorable experiences. Back in college when I was learning about all of this, I never would have thought that I would one day see it face to face. It was also amazing to visit my friend’s home for the last three years – and see her in her element.

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