Morazan is one of the fourteen departments (sometimes translated as "provinces") of El Salvador. It is located in the northeastern part of the country, and its departmental seat is San Francisco Gotera. Much of the area is mountainous and cool most of the year, but downhill in Gotera, the temperature can reach into and beyond 100°F or 37°C. During the civil war of the 1980s, this department saw much of the heaviest fighting, including the famed El Mozote massacre. Fifteen years after the peace accords, the area is recovering and rebuilding.
You can find buses running to Gotera, Sociedad, Corinto and other towns in the department, as well as to San Miguel or La Unión. "Kilometer 18" stop is a major center for changing routes. Outside the towns, if you have no transport of your own, such as a bike or car, and do not care to walk, you will need to depend on local pickups that carry large numbers of hitchhikers from place to place; expect to ride in the truck bed, often standing up. If you speak Spanish, it is not a bad idea to check with other riders to find out what they paid; those who do not appear to be Salvadoran have sometimes been greatly overcharged, on the assumption that they can and will pay without question. These days, one occasionally finds someone who will provide a free ride if it is on the way, but most locals have little steady income, and it is appropriate at least to ask, "Cuánto le debo?" (How much do I owe you?)
- 1 Museum Winakirika (In Cacaopera). This museum, whose name in the Kakawira language means "that of our people" (or "our town"), contains exhibits on the traditions of the Cacaopera people, via cultural and religious objects, photographs, and crafts.
- 2 Church of Cacaopera (In Cacaopera). The main plaza includes a colonial church, contructed in 1660 and restored at various times. Its structure is surprising, with very thick walls. Next to this building is a bell tower with three bronze bells dating back to 1721. There are dance groups that perform upon the sound of the bells, such dances as "The feathered ones" and "The 'negritos'," both within and outside the church walls as well as in private homes and on festival occasions.
- 3 Casa de la Cultura (In Cacaopera). Hosts a library and a museum about traditional culture.
- 4 Museo de la Revolución (Museum of the Revolution) (In Perqín). This Perquín-based museum houses a collection of objects, images, information and testimonies of historic moments related to the Salvadoran Civil War that took place during the 1980s and early 1990s. 1.3$.
- 5 El Mozote historical site (10Km SE from Perquin). This lovely village was the site of a major massacre (at least 900 villagers assassinated by the National Army), during the Civil War, in 1981. There is not much to see about these events, but local guides will provide you with information on what happened, for a few dollars.
- 6 Holy Spirit Cave (La Gruta del Espíritu Santo) (In Corinto). This cave area contains ancient paintings and etchings that archaeologists date back to the pre-Classic period of Mesoamerican culture. The site is part of the "Peace Route" (Ruta de la Paz) tourism program. There is a Concultura guide on-site, though you generally are let to explore the site on your own. If you were to ask the guide to show you around, your request would problably be granted. Free (though a tip will be appreciate).
- Río Sapo - Betweeen Joateca and Arambala is a large wilderness area, characterized by its forests of chaparral, oak, black oak and pine, protecting Toad River Basin, which has an amazing clean channel turquoise waters. Here, you can enjoy the splendid scenery, the fresh water, many types of birds singing, and the a glimpse of a deer.
Morazán is an especially rural part of a developing country. In the whole northeastern region of La Unión-Morazán, do not expect recognition of the same world-famous travelers' checks that are a recommended part of travel in even the most remote parts of, say, Mexico. There is now a bank in Corinto, which would suggest that larger cities such as Gotera likely have at least one bank, possibly more. However, travelers' checks are still unlikely to work there.
Western Union offices are available for money transfers, but their policy for identification contradicts the policy stated on the forms used by US senders. While Western Union forms indicate that the recipient must provide photo identification, the actual practice in Morazán is that this photo ID is not sufficient; the recipient must be able to provide the identification code provided on the sender's receipt. Therefore, when wiring or being wired money, it is important that the sender contact the recipient to communicate this code.
Do not expect most places to accept credit or debit cards; the rare shops that do often will add a 7% convenience fee to recoup recover card companies' processing charges, and not all shops that add this charge will have a posted policy, but they generally mention it when you offer a card for payment. Shops accepting cards increasingly accept cards that were hard to use outside of North America such as Discover; however, transactions involving cards have a spotty record of success unrelated to the amount being charged.
When paying with cash, which is the usual mode in Morazán, be aware that many shops cannot or will not handle bills larger than $20 US, and occasionally may ask if you have a smaller bill if your purchase is inexpensive.
- 1 Camping at Gruta del Espíritu Sancto (near Corinto). It is possible to camp in the park of the Gruta. However you have to get the permission from the institutions in San Salvador first (tel: +503 7364 9748), a couple of days in advance. The site is lovely, and offers a drinkable water spring, but that's it for the accommodations.
- 2 Camping at "el Museo de la Revolución" (In Perqín). Camping on the ground of the musem. 2$/person. Bring your own tent. They provide nothing more than the ground and WC, but the people working there are lovely, and it's cheap.
- 3 Eco Finca Esperanza (6Km from Perquin). Camping in a mini country club. 5$/person. Provides dining room, WC and outdoors shower. The place also has a swimming pool (probably accessible for an extra fee).
- 4 Hotel ??? (North of the center of Corinto). Not great, but it's cheap, fairly clean, and there is not much choice in Corinto. 15$/dbl.
- 5 Llano del Muerto (5Km East from Perquin). This location provides a few hotels and campgrounds in country clubs. It feels a bit sad during the dry season, but otherwise it is well reputed.
- 6 Perkín Lenca (1 km away from historic Perquín, along the Nahuaterique range). This is a mountain hotel that has seven air-conditioned cabañas, all hygienic and finely decorated. It offers restaurant service and a pleasant atmosphere.