Arcatao is a lovely mountain village near the border with Honduras. My old guidebook, published more than 12 years ago, mentions that this village has many mural paintings about the guerilla or quotes from people that have played a major role in the country's history.
Twelve years is a long time! The village seems to have changed with time, but the mural paintings are still present. Nowadays, most of them seems to be a protest against mining projects in the region.
After a quick search on the net, I didn't find which mine it is about. However, El Salvador has banned mining operation for metals in the entire country because of the environmental impact of this industry.
The magnificent Lake Suchitlán has a length of 45 km and a width of 10 km. It's an artificial reservoir due to a hydroelectric dam where the major part of the country's electric energy is produced.
After visiting Arcatao, my next destination was the town of Suchitoto. The most direct road involved a crossing of Lake Suchitlán using this small ferry.
The crossing lasted only about 20 minutes, but it was enough to chat with some friendly Salvadorans. People are always impressed when I tell them I drove all the way from Canada to their country. When I tell them I want to go as far as Patagonia in the far south of the continent, they simply can't believe it.
Suchitoto is a pleasant colonial town near Lake Suchitlán. This small and quiet town, like many other in the north of the country, greatly suffered during the civil war of 1980-1992. Many times, the army bombed the town with the goal to destroy everything.
Another highlight of Suchitoto is the Art Centre for Peace. At that place, sister Peggy manages a centre that helps children of the area by teaching them music, dancing, plastic arts, English, and even some basic notions about computers. Sister Peggy, a nun originally from the United States, dedicated more than 35 years of her life to improve the life of the children around town. It's possible to camp on the premises and the money spent helps finance the various projects of the centre.
The Cinquera Forest, 20 km from Suchitoto, offers various trails to nice waterfalls and a nice viewpoint.
Yes, a cascade without water! It was completely dry when I visited. The cliff where the fall tumbles is a geological oddity with its hexagonal stone spires.
When I saw this site, I immediately thought about the Giant's Causeway on the northern coast of Northern Ireland.