Off the Beaten Path: Dulce Nombre de María
Destination #4 on our Pandemic Virtual Tour of El Salvador: Dulce Nombre de María
|Welcome to the mountains of Chalatenango|
At the time, we were overwhelmed - quite overwhelmed. In our quest to learn as much as we could about the Salvadoran public healthcare system, we traveled every day for a month by car and and by truck, we climbed up volcanoes and trudged through ravines, we were welcomed into exam rooms, pharmacies, labs and lunchrooms in big clinics and small outposts, we weighed babies and comforted elders, we combated zancudos (mosquitoes), and we were blown away by the enormous work load which public health doctors, nurses and health promoters complete, day in and day out.
This story is not about the work we witnessed or the tiny work we did. This story is about a day of fun we had in the midst of the work. And as I think about telling the tale of a misty day spent in a beautiful place named Dulce Nombre de María (Sweet Name of Mary), I cannot proceed without expressing gratitude. Throughout much of our crazy travel, Oscar was our driver. Oscar was our protector, our tour guide off the beaten path, and our history teacher when we were clueless. So, shout out to Oscar!
|Just another day on the road with Oscar.|
|Walking in the community - there is a church in this spot now!|
|We spent our day in pediatric medicine. The head nurse spent|
time with every mother teaching about proper nutrition.
|The flat plains and heat of Nueva Concepción are a stark |
contrast to the misty coolness of Dulce Nombre.
Dulce Nombre de María rests in the hills at the base of the mountain range which runs along the northern border of El Salvador and Honduras. It is located north of the longitudinal highway, about halfway between the intersection of Troncal del Norte and the city of Chalatenango in the department of the same name. Oscar told us that the town is most famous for the murals which are painted on the sides of the homes and businesses. We took a walk around town to see a few of the paintings.
|Mural of the church|
|The Mystery of the Moon|
|This is a great example of traditional Salvadoran|
architecture and building materials.
|The murals depict local springs and waterfalls.|
|Old Dulce Nombre|
The "downtown" area consists of one block where you will find the Catholic Church (Dulce Nombre de María), the market, a small park surrounded by a few shops, the cultural house and the mayor's office.
|Band practice behind the church. Dulce Nombre|
has a large music festival each year.
|Dulce Nombre de María church - the facade was reconstructed in 1990|
|Sanctuary of the church|
|The park is a good meeting spot and also has a|
gazebo in case of rain
|The cultural house|
|This was where we first learned about|
corn festivals and the tradition of making
dresses out of parts of the corn plant.
|These items are still used out in the countryside.|
|Grinding stones for corn - metate (the bottom flat stone)|
and the mano (the stone you push with your hands)
|The walls of the cultural house are covered in murals|
which depict the legends of El Salvador, such as
El Cadejo (the black dog).
Dulce Nombre de María is a sweet town which is small, friendly and walkable. The fresh fried potatoes at the market are delicious, and there are a few small places to eat right in town. The town is surrounded by tiny hamlets hiding amidst the gullies and the hills to the east, south and west, and the mountains to the north. To venture out beyond the town, one really should be driving a 4 x 4 or pickup, although Oscar was able to drive us to the top of a mountain in a small car - but that is another story.