Off the Beaten Path: Museo de Ferrocarril

One of the core values we hold dear in our sister church relationship is the practice of doing tourist activities in El Salvador together.   Visiting historic sites, parks, natural wonders and museums gives us the chance to learn about El Salvador together.  It's true that wherever we live, we often have neither the time, the interest nor the resources we need to "be tourists" in our own backyards, and often visitors in El Salvador have been to many more places in the country than their Salvadoran friends have.

In our sistering situation, taking excursions together is especially important because our community is divided by boundaries.  Sections are controlled by different gang groups, and families are not able to cross boundaries from one sector to another.  It is very difficult to plan any kind of event in the church or in the community in which everyone can participate, but with careful organization, field trips are something most of us can do together.

The engineer invited me to take a close-up
A great new attraction for school-age kids, youth and adults is the Museo de Ferrocarril (Railroad Museum).  The museum is made up of a collection of buildings located in San Salvador on Avenida Peralta, between between the Terminal de Oriente and the backside of the Tiendona market.  Plan ahead because you can only enter the parking area via a right turn.  Drive slowly and watch for the railway murals on the exterior wall just before the entrance.  The cost is $1 per person for the museum, and $1 per person to ride the train.  Pay for both right away at the entrance kiosk, along with the $1 bus parking fee.  Foreigners are charged $3 to enter, but if you spend a lot of time in El Salvador and guide groups, you might be able to negotiate a deal.  I called the day before (2259-4100) to let them know we were coming, and I was able to get everyone in for the Salvadoran price.  It's also good to ask at what time the train rides depart so you can plan your visit accordingly.

The guide shows off the ingenious two-
directional seating for first class
The guides are well-trained and will share a lot of historic information with your group!  Signs are posted in Spanish and in English at most of the displays.  Sometimes the tour groups get pretty big, so ask if you can have your own guide.

The museum resides at the old train station
The round house
We started our recent visit with the train ride.  Some of the grandparents in our group remembered the railway system as it existed prior to the civil war.  Some remembered the short run which FENADESAL (Ferrocarriles Nacional de El Salvador) reinstated between Apopa and San Salvador from 2007-2012.  I think it would be very fun to view the photos which the young people took during the visit.  There were, of course, lots of selfies with engines in the background.  One boy took pictures of every mechanical gadget on display.  Some of the kids recorded what the guide was saying.  Many of the mothers encouraged their children to take lots of pictures to use for future school projects.  Everyone really had fun.  The tour is interactive and the guide was really good at making it fun for the little ones.
The presidential car

View down the route the track for the train ride
A positive side note:  the young guides at this museum serve as excellent role models for students who may be studying tourism and history with aspirations of seeking employment in the developing tourism industry in El Salvador.


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