Trip to Morazán – Part Two – Guerilla Military Camp

The kids really enjoyed our trip to Morazán department last week, and I think one of the highlights for them was the opportunity to explore the miliary encampment of the guerilla troops. Morazán is very moutainous, with craggy hills and valleys perfect for guerilla warfare. One of the campsites of the rebel troops has been restored and preserved by the local community in Perquín. Many artifacts have been found around the area and brought to the site of this military camp to show what life was like for the guerilla troops during the Salvadoran civil war. It was really interesting to see.

Growing up in Maryland, and then living in Pennsylvania, I have visited battlegrounds and military campsites in places like Valley Forge, Gettysburg, Antietam, and Fort McHenry. But this was very different because it was so recent. Ex-guerillas serve as tour guides and curators for the site. We just haven’t had a war on American soil recent enough to have local eye-witnesses there to explain what happened.

The military camp had everything from land mines, to guns, to the “hammock bridges” used by the troops to cross the streams cutting through the landscape. A lot of effort has been made to create a sense of life in the camp. Dried banana leaves still serve as camouflage on some of the shelters, and radios broadcast recordings of the resistance radio station that would have been playing in guerilla camps all across the countryside. I tried to imagine what it would be like to be a soldier there, fighting for my family, community, and what I hoped would be a better country.

The handpainted sign pointing us to the camp.

Weapons on display from the war.

The remains of a helicopter that crashed nearby the camp. The pieces were discovered in March of 2010.

A gun set up behind a stone bunker.

Tori and our guide inside the field hospital. It was difficult for the guerilla troops to get medical care. They had to find doctors willing to go into a war zone in this very poor, rural part of the country. This is one hospital I would not want to have surgery in!

Ian and Jon climbing down into one of the bunkers. These were cut into the dirt for the soldiers to hide from enemy aircraft fire. This particular bunker had a tunnel which came out onto a stream so the soldiers could escape if they came under attack.

Tori, Ian, and Jon emerging from the bunker. The kids thought this was the coolest tunnel they had ever played in!

One of the hammock bridges crossing the camp. There were several of these. They were just sticks tied together with rope. They were a little shaky!

Crossing the bridge…I can’t believe I agreed to take Tori across!

Jon and Ian crossing…Ian called it the “Go Diego Go” bridge.

The kids crossed this little stick footbridge by themselves…so brave!

Remnants of an old (inactive) land mine.

Part of an exploded bomb that is still stuck in a tree. The other parts of the bomb were on display nearby.

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