The bus from San Salvador to Santa Ana has taken much longer than anticipated, and then it takes a while to get to my hostel thanks to the illogic of the Salvadoran bus system: I doubt whether my plan to visit the ruins of Tazumal is still feasible. I decide to give it a shot, and when I arrive at the bus stop, the bus is almost full and leaves within a few minutes. The ride to Chalchuapa is straightforward, and when I arrive at the gate, I still have more than an hour before closing time. Since the sun is still casting a bright light on the ruins, I decide to first visit the small Stanley Boggs museum. It gives a good introduction to the site, its history, as well as several artefacts found during the excavations. There are, of course, more objects found during the excavations that took place in the 20th and 21st century, among them gold - but they are not in this museum.
It is now time to see the ruins. The afternoon turns out to be a perfect time to visit, as the buildings of Tazumal are west-facing. At first, I walk around the complex, of which only a small part has been excavated:much more work still remains to be done. The ruins are fragile: part of them collapsed in 2004, and much of the ruins are cordoned off and inaccessible for visitors. The pyramid can therefore not be climbed, but only admired from a distance. After having walked around the complex, there is plenty of time for a better inspection. I climb the staircase on Structure B1-2, which leads to a platform from which I have good views of the upper western part of the pyramid. Cacti grow out of the sides of the pyramid. I then walk around, get tantalizingly close to the south side of the pyramid ,which is also impossible to access.
A tour bus has parked outside, and a group of older American tourists comes in. Time to move ahead of them, on my third round around the complex. On the southeast side of the pyramid, I notice that the corner is completely uneven: not one step of the ridge is aligned with any of the others. There is a roof at the east side of the pyramid which covers part of Tazumal under excavation: the dig site. Not much seems to be going on here. Close to it, I find another ruined structure with stairs, on which a couple is having a serious chat. Back to the museum. I now find sculpted rocks, featuring a god and a jaguar. On the other side, close to the adjacent cemetery, is supposedly the ball court, but this still needs to be excavated. I take one of the benches on the west side of the pyramid, and enjoy the warm light of the descending sun on this Mayan structure. To my surprise, I am allowed to stay well beyond closing time.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Tazumal (El Salvador). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Tazumal. Read more about this site.