Sunday Special – Joya de Cerén Archaeological Park, El Salvador


The Central American country of El Salvador is home to a significant archaeological site that some call ‘the Pompeii of the Americas’. Joya de Cerén was a pre-Hispanic farming village of approximately 200 people that had been buried under volcanic ash since the 600s C.E. It was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993 though it was discovered in 1976 during a government agricultural project, quite by accident. When the volcano named Loma Caldera erupted around 590 CE the villagers of this Mayan village escaped (no bodies have been located there) yet the town was left as is under blankets of ash. Homes and the wares inside were intact as well as various vegetation of the time.  It is believed that an earthquake prior to the eruption was what prompted the small amount of villagers to flee and therefore avoiding the flow of lava and blackened smoke pouring out of Loma Caldera.  Because of the ash covering the village it was preserved remarkably well allowing archaeologists to learn and understand about Mesoamerican life during that era. 

Located 36 km / 22 miles outside of the capital city  of  San Salvador, Joya de Cerén offers visitors a glimpse of how the life of these humble farmers was before nature drove them from their homes. Tours of the site and the 10 exposed buildings are available. Well preserved housewares such as furniture, clay pots, kitchen items, and food storage are showcased in the park’s modest museum.  This area would certainly be of interest to history buffs  along with El Salvador’s other archaeological sites. It would be like stepping back in time.  Imagine that.

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Preserved structure at Joya de Cerén Archaeological Park – Photo credit: Mariordo (Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz), ES Estructura 1 Area 1 Joya Ceren 05 2012 1513, CC BY-SA 3.0

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Housewares at Joya de Cerén Museum, El Salvador – Photo credit: Mariordo (Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz), ES Joya Ceren Museum 05 2012 1519, CC BY-SA 3.0

 

 

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Sunday Special – Iceland


One of the hottest countries to visit these days is actually rather cool. Iceland is possibly one of the most popular European destinations right about now. It certainly is on my list. After seeing The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, starring Ben Stiller I was awed by the scenery the film showcased about this small northern European island nation. Then seeing photos several friends had posted on social media it has quickly moved up my bucket list.

The landscape has been described as rough, rugged and barren yet holds a beauty all its own. Mountainous volcanoes, sheets of glacial ice, lava fields and geothermal waters can all be found here. And it is said the warmest of all are Iceland’s people, which I suspect is true. Along with nature one can expect great food, amazing music (Of Monsters and Men hail from Iceland!), art,  and literature. When I go here I hope to see much of the country, perhaps even by car so that I can wander about at my leisure.  Here are some ideas.

  • Route 1 – Ring Road – The main highway that links the country together spans 1,330km / 830 miles. A road trip of epic scenery. Do prepare for any road trips and plan accordingly.
  • Northern Lights – Iceland’s location on the planet makes it a fitting place to see the night skies dance with colour. September to April are the best times for viewing.
  • Geothermal Waters – Naturally heated spring waters are plentiful. Many places have created pools and spas where you can enjoy the hot waters in the crisp air. The Blue Lagoon; Myvatn Natural Baths; and Laugarvatn Fontana are a few.
  • Festivals – Every season brings festivals and events to celebrate music, art, sport, and food.
  • Creatures Big and Small – Iceland may be a small country yet there is bountiful wildlife. Arctic Foxes, Icelandic Horses (don’t call them ponies!), varied and beautiful bird populations, and of course whales swimming in the North Atlantic waters.
  • Natural Beauty – a land of volcanoes, glaciers, waterfalls, caves, natural springs and geysers, and a rugged coastline I suspect this is how this island country wows most everyone.
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Iceland’s southern Ring Road – Photo via rheins, Southern Ring Road of Iceland – 2013.08 – panoramio (4)CC BY 3.0

 

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Icelandic Horses – Photo is Public Domain

 

 

 

My Top 5 Favourite Countries


Another Top 5 for ya! This time round will be my favourite countries that I’ve wandered about. This differs from my favorite cities because in many cases I have only seen one city within a country. This in turn does not always give me a feel for the whole nation.  Of the countries listed, I have visited at least two locales, if not more. And as always, this list is in flux as I continue to travel and see more.

  1. IRELAND – How I love this country. It’s lush and green and stunning. I feel comfortable there. I did not think I could love a place as much as Paris yet Ireland swept me away. I want to move here. It is my happy place.
  2. Myanmar – I did not know what to expect from Myanmar really. I had done some research yet still I did not know how it would go. It went with love, that is how it went. Even though I had some tummy issues, was harangued by locals to buy items, and was only so-so about Yangon (though I loved Bagan), I was still mesmerized by this place. When I think of it I am back there with a smile.
  3. India – I dream of returning to India to see more of it. My visit was like a tease even though it was a month long. India plays on all your senses. It is crazy, it is chaotic, it is beautiful, it is loud, it is colourful, it draws you in and I can’t wait for that to happen again.
  4. United Kingdom – For a small island there is plenty to see and do. I just really like the U.K. So much of it is old, it has history (well compare to Canada) which is something I love to learn about anywhere I go. And Scotland has amazing whisky so that should just sum it up. 
  5. Canada – Yes, I know. I was born and raised in Canada. I can (and do) love it. This is a vast and varied country. I have not seen nearly as much as I’d like though that will change. The natural beauty here is some of the best in the world. 

All photos taken and owned by Eeva Valiharju / Wanders The World

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Pub life in Killarney, Ireland

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Myanmar sunset over the Irrawaddy River

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The Golden Temple in Amritsar, India

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Chester Rows in Chester, England. Love the old-world charm

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Canadian West Coast sunset