We’re on a side trip to El Salvador for the weekend. This morning my mom woke me up and told me to get dressed because we were going to see the joyas de Cerén. I was super excited because I needed some new jewelry, and I really wanted to buy some gifts for my friends back home.

It didn’t take me long to get ready. We all loaded into an air-conditioned bus and took off. We passed by market after market, and I couldn’t help but wonder why we didn’t just stop already. Finally, we pulled into a parking lot and I saw the sign that said “Parque Arqueológico de Joya de Cerén.” Whoops! I tapped my mother and kindly told her that she needed to practice her Spanish a lot more. I had to explain to her that joyas are jewelry and joya is jewel. She had said we were going to look at Cerén jewelry when she really meant the Jewel of Cerén, which is an archaeological site. This is a common mistake, but it was enough to confuse me.

On this trip, mom and I opted not to take the guided tour. Instead, we read the signs as we passed them. I learned that Cerén is a small town located near a volcano named Loma Caldera and was famous for its rich farmland. In 590 AD the town was evacuated because the volcano was going to erupt. Little did the people living there know that their homes would not be unearthed until 1976. They were soooo lucky that day because archeologists have not found the remains of any humans, which means that everyone got out safely.

The coolest part of the site was that this place was covered by fourteen layers of ash and was completely preserved. We passed by Andy and Janet’s tour group. They told us that when archeologists first uncovered the site, it was so well preserved that there was still uneaten food in the bowls, perfectly intact. How beautiful and gross at the same time. It’s so cool to get such a keen insight into how the people lived, but would 2500-year-old food smell bad?
We tried to hit all seventy of the buildings that had been uncovered in the site but it was too hot. I went through four bottles of water! Where’s the prehistoric bathroom?!?!
It was a pretty awesome experience. I’d like to go there again after they uncover some more of the town. Bonus: I was able to grab some jewelry at the air-conditioned gift shop. So I got my joyas and mom saw her joya.


  1. Why is the writer of the post confused when her mother tells her they are going to see the joyas de Cerén?
  2. What happened in Cerén in 590 AD?
  3. Take a look at the gallery of pictures from Cerén:http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/675/gallery/
  4. Are there any historical sites like this in the US?