santa lucia cotzumalguapa guatemala 10 2

Gigantic Stone Head Half-Buried – Guatemala

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An ancient, giant stone head half-buried is something that I wanted to see.

The mysterious site of El Baul is located on the Pacific Coast – among sugarcane plantations, about 5 km from the sweltering town of Santa Lucia.

But finding this stone head wasn’t easy.

Half-buried stone head of ancient Pipil culture at El Baul.

After leaving the Sugar Refinery Headquarters and its small museum of stones sculptures, I set out on foot to soon get a ride in an old-American school bus taking refinery workers back to Santa Lucia.

They dropped me at a path leading into a jungle of 3 meter-high sugarcane, and I proceeded to wander the dirt track.

Then a lightning storm came crashing down as I wandered amid the green mass.

Pipil sculpture at the small museum at the sugar refinery near the El Baul site near Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa.

My poncho saved me from a soaking but I was already wet from sweat. And it cooled me off.

After 30 minutes I was about to give up on finding the unmarked site when a lone worker – with machete and bag – encountered me.

In simple Spanish, I got him to lead me to the distant, high grassy mound that is in fact an unexplored temple platform where stands the huge, half-buried stone head.

Stone Head From Ancient Cotzumalguapa

The El Bual site originates from the little-known Pipil civilization and their city of Cotzumalguapa, which flourished from 650 – 950 AD.

And of all the Pipil sites in the area, El Baul – aka Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa – was the largest, and probably the city where king’s palaces were located.

santa-lucia-cotzumalguapa stone-head-guatemala
A sacred site for locals at Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa at the Pipil El Baul site in Guatemala.

Ancient Cotzumalguapa’s wealth was based upon the production of cacao, and the seeds were traded – and used – across Mesoamerica in ritual drinks.

Today, El Baul is an active sacred site.

And both Pipil descendants and Maya go to El Baul to light candles, fire and copal – pine-incense, and also to pray, give offerings of liquor, and even sacrifice chickens.

The cane worker was very friendly, especially after my tip.

He happily – but sternly – posed for a photo. His expression* similar to the ancient stone face of this surreal ancestor. (*Do you agree?)

Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa and the sugarcane worker who showed me to the Pipil sacred site.

Afterwards, he continued onto his village. And I wandered the 5 km back to Santa Lucia, indigenous families outside houses – staring at the lone gringo wandering amid their forgotten corner of Guatemala.

All smiles. My greetings returned as I offered maybe 100 “Buenas Tardes” – Good Afternoon(s) to all I that encountered on route.

Travels in Guatemala – 2010


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