I'm a little embarrassed that I didn't know very much about the Mayans before moving to El Salvador. I always got Mayans and Aztecs and Incas mixed up. I felt like one of the civilizations was really smart and short and round, and another one liked coffee a lot, and another one was the San Diego State mascot. Now I'm an expert on Mayans, meaning that I now know that the Mayans liked to end their words with "-tepeque." "Blahblahblahblahblahtepeque," is what Mayans said a lot.
Guatemala has the coolest Mayan archaeological sites, but El Salvador has a few too. We went to visit a couple last week. One is called Joya de Ceren, and it's a little like a mini Pompeii, except that the villagers succeeded in fleeing before pyroclastic material buried their homes, and also no British tool sang a song about Joya de Ceren like he did about Pompeii. We poked around a pretty decent museum, then took a tour where you can check out the few excavated homes, which were discovered in the 1970s some 20+ feet underground when a land developer's bulldozer hit something hard that turned out to be a 1,000 year-old Mayan house. I feel like I would like to discover an ancient buried city someday, but I don't have any bulldozers, or even garden spades. To be honest, I didn't follow the tour guide's Spanish, and I got bored of the old houses after a bit. So I busied myself taking close up photos of my kids, who understand and tolerate my short attention span and compulsive photo snapping.
Then we pressed down the highway a few more miles to San Andreas, which would've been the capital of the valley of Zapotitan during the Mayan period. The ruins there are of a small temple complex. Only the tips of the temples poke above the grass, so they're not very big, but they're cool looking. I particularly loved the lush blanket of grass that covers what used to be the plaza area of the complex. Something about vibrant green grass and shocking blue skies dotted with fluffy white clouds makes me want to cry for sheer joy. But I don't, because I'm a boy. And if The Cure taught me anything, it's that boys don't cry. And that they shouldn't wear eyeshadow, generally speaking.
It was super hot, and the kids had had enough antiquity for one day. So we sweated a bit, I snapped some photos, and then we headed home. Solid day, guys. Solid day.