Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Bikers check out Ataco's vibrant murals after cruising along El Salvador's famous Ruta de las Flores. 
Visitors to El Salvador usually do at least one of two things--they surf and/or they travel the famous Ruta de Las Flores, a twisting, turning drive lined with ornate murals, flowers, and some of the richest coffee growing territory in the world.

Liz with pig and cow.

We'd already put in some time on the waves, so we headed down the highway out of San Salvador to the tiny town of Nauhizalco, famous for homemade furniture and for being the first stop on La Ruta. 

While the hand-hewn chairs, tables and lamps that lined the highway were uniquely impressive, none would fit in our backpacks. Plus, Kip was hungry, so we headed to Juayua, famous for its weekly food festival and a roaring waterfall (and also our Habitat build). 

Grilled churrasco skewers devoured, waterfall swam, we hopped a bus to the hillside town of Ataco. 

We came for the day but we ended up staying three. The air was cool, the food was tasty, and the murals were spectacular, and plentiful. 

Around every corner of the stone and brick streets, another brightly-painted wall awaited. Scenes of coffee pickers working, children reading, old people smiling, and even a little green alien flying a spaceship decorate nearly every street.

The story behind the murals is somewhat hard to unravel. Wall art in El Salvador is prolific. It's hard to find a vertical stack of bricks without at least something painted on it. 

In Ataco, we were told the first murals began popping up more than a decade ago to beautify the town and attract tourists. The art's beauty, style, and complexity, as well as a related controversy involving an artist, the town's conservative mayor, and the U.S. State Department, continues to evolve.

But enough with the broken history lesson. Below is a sample of Ataco's amazing murals. By the way, in our next lives, we're going to be highly-skilled artists and move to Ataco, where we'll volunteer to touch up the murals whenever necessary. 

OK, so this isn't really a mural. But it could be.
If Rockwell were from El Salvador, surely he would have approved.

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