Backpacking El Salvador (2019) Indigo Farm & Cihuatan Mayan Site

We continue our backpacking trip around El Salvador and in this episode we visit an organic Indigo farm and visit Cihuatan one of the Mayan sites here in El Salvador

Indigo used to be El Salvador’s largest export until a synthetic replacement was created. The sales then dropped and coffee took over as El Salvador’s largest export. It was very interesting to learn how it is grown and manufactured.

We then headed to the Mayan site of Cihuatan as continued our journey towards the city of Santa Ana.

In the next episode we arrive in the city of Santa Ana

A huge thanks to Edwin and Katia from EC Tours for showing us the beauty of El Salvador and if you are looking for tours then check out their web site

Thanks for watching and coming on this adventure with us as we TREAD the Globe.

Travel vlog 233 | Indigo Farm & Cihuatan | Country #18/195

If you’re planning a trip to El Salvador or Central America then be sure to see the playlists for more tips.

#dontskipelsalvador #ElSalvador #mayansite

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Now until end June 2019 – backpacking Central America

2020 – Around the world Drive . The long way

20 Countries
20 Months
2020 Start date

More info to follow

In case you don’t know us – let us introduce ourselves – we are Chris (48) & Marianne (51). We are a married travel couple. We recently quit our jobs and sold our belongings to travel full time.

After more than 22 years of marriage we are still best friends

The aim is we are going to step foot in every country in the world before we die – or die trying !. We are currently also planning an epic around the world road trip. So stayed tuned for more clips as we TREAD the Globe in either Trudy the TREAD camper van or armed with our backpacks!

We will share with you our adventure and will post regular vlogs and videos of our full time travels showing the best the world has to offer and hopefully inspire you to travel more.

Currently we are backpacking our way around El Salvador and over the coming months will be exploring and sharing the rest of Central America.

So what are you waiting for – subscribe now to come on this amazing adventure with us !!

Marianne and Chris



View Time:12:1



Welcome to El Salvador!! Music So the time has
come to leave Suchitoto, and we have had an absolutely awesome time, and our friends, Edwin and Caty from EC Tours have come and picked us up, and we are off to
go and see an indigo farm. Oowww Music As we are driving along, you can actually
see the crops here, and they are sugarcane, and also they are growing corn, so
it's really nice as you drive through the countryside to see all the different crops they are using. Music Well we have a really special treat,
Edwin from EC Tours, has actually arranged for us to come and visit an
indigo farm, how absolutely amazing is that. And we've just arrived on this
finca, and it's just so beautiful we're in a lovely rural setting, which is
Marianne's favourite place and it's just been so lovely to see, the countryside
change and open up into the agricultural land. It's beautiful.
So on the finca that we are visiting, Mario's just explained, that they've got
a number of different crops, they have the indigo, they have some cashew nuts,
and some hibiscus and I have never seen an indigo plant before in my life, but
behind me here, there is a huge crop of them, and indigo as we've said on
previous videos, used to be the largest crop and export here of El Salvador, but
was replaced by coffee. But yeah, it's growing right here. As this is an
organic farm, they actually grow species, and use and farm trees, that they can use
for other purposes and this tree which is called the neem tree, which is NEEM
tree, they actually use the leaves for pesticide!
How fabulous and have a look at this beautiful grove of trees. Music And behind us,
these trees are actually cashew trees. I've never seen a cashew tree before,
they're not actually in season at the moment, but normally they have fruit and
then the seed comes from the fruit like a like a shell, crack it open and you
have a cashew nut that we're all used to eating amazing. I was just remarking to
Mario that there are so many butterflies here, and as a tourist to this country we
are fascinated by the wildlife, and the butterflies are everywhere. And he
reminded me and pointed out quite rightly, as an organic farmer they
encourage wildlife they don't use pesticides. They don't kill all the insects and of
course with that, you get all these beautiful butterflies. They've also got a
small variety of pineapple, they don't grow in massive, but they are incredibly
sweet. So there are three different tanks, first of all the Indigo plants, it
actually comes from the leaves are put into this main first tank and it's left
here weighed down with stones, so it's completely submerged for 18 hours. After 18 hours in the first tank the water has sort of like a greeny yellowy tinge, and
then it's actually released into the next tank down, and it's stirred and
aerated for about an hour and that aeration process with big paddles
actually causes it to turn to a really dark blue. You can actually see that
there's a little bit of residue sediment that's actually still there. It's then
brought down into this last chamber that you can see right behind me, and what
will happen here, is it will actually split between a liquid and like a muddy
sludgy kind of mixture. It's left for about 18 hours
and then the liquid is actually siphoned off, and you're left with like a sludgy
silty blue mixture. So after they take the sludge from the second tank, they put
it into these cloths and the liquid drains out now, they collect the liquid
because it still looks blue, and they double filter it. They pour it back in,
and eventually the liquid after a couple of times runs clear. Indigo that you can
see behind us is cropped during the rainy season, and is actually done all
done by hand by shears, they don't have big machines that come and crop it, and
they actually have a whopping 30 hectares of indigo here, and probably the
largest indigo farm in El Salvador. The interesting fact about organic farming,
you have husbandry of trees and we've just found out that the reason that they
have the cashew trees as well, alongside the Indigo, the fleshy bit, they break
down and use and turn into some kind of vinegar, and the vinegar they use to
adhere the indigo to the cloth! That is organic farming at its best! Husbandry of
trees, love it! And then I've just found on this finca, this farm, here they have
a worm farm, they make their own compost to enrich their compost, they use these
worms. It's just lovely, there are bugs everywhere because there are no
pesticides or insecticides, but every bug is useful here. So the sludge that we saw
in the nets, is then brought up to the main buildings
here, and they actually put them into an oven at a very low temperature, because
it's very important not to burn the indigo otherwise obviously it would
change the colour, and after about 24 hours it turns into this hard dry
formation, that they then mill and crush to form indigo powder. So the
reason the Mário have the trays of indigo brought
out onto the floor in daylight so we could see it, it's because on this
organic farm they literally take it true to the word, so what they do is, there is
actually no electricity here on this finca, and to heat and cook the indigo
and to dry it out, on a slow oven they use wood fall. So any fallen branches or
trees on this land, are collected by some of the guys that work here that's their
job, so that there is fuel to heat the ovens. The majority of the indigo gets
sold to Germany, and it tends to go into beauty products, and including hair dyes.
So I told him I was happy to support the indigo trade! Every six weeks! So now
we've arrived at one of El Salvador's historic sites, and it's actually a mayan
site, called Cihuatan. Music So in this room full of fascinating
information about the Mayan culture, we have a map her that shows Meso-America and
the area in green is where the Mayans settled, this particular Mayan site here
in El Salvador Cihuatan, was actually built shortly after Lake Ilopango, was
created during the big eruption back in around 430 AD, so this site was created
about 900 AD and is one of the oldest remaining sites that they've discovered
here in El Salvador. So the archeological sites here in El
Salvador are open six days a week they're all closed on Mondays. This
particular site, the entrance is free of charge, however the other sites in El
Salvador, they charge just three dollars entrance fee to come in and have a look
around. Music So the main structure here, is where the
the really important the leaders would have had their houses on top of this
structure, and it just I love these Mayan sights, because it really gets the
imagination going, of what life would have been like back in the day here, and
there's not that much known about the Mayan culture, because a lot of it wasn't
documented, as some other cultures. Music So we've climbed up to the top of the
main structure, to get an aerial view. Great views from up here,
absolutely stunning all the way around the hills and the mountains, and the the
rest of the site here. There is so much nature, we are in full blown nature, just the birds you see flying around, it's just absolutely
beautiful to be exploring El Salvador like this. Music And this site is absolutely pristine,
they obviously take their archaeology, their archaeological his history
seriously, they do absolutely immaculate it's been really well looked after, and I
can see a couple of animals in the distance! I'm gonna zoom in the camera!
Chris has got the camera and they are goats! Yeah! we love goats. Music Along this
beautiful garden of trees, I don't know how to call it! And for anybody wondering why I've got
foliage in my hair, this is actually from the bug repellant tree and I'm just
giving it a go to see if it will stop the things buzzing around my face! I couldn't pronounced it, that is the
name of the plant! Into a liquid and into a Uh! and okay sorry – CUT

Join the Conversation


  1. Beautiful video from my native country and the fact that you give all this information about the places you visit. Love your videos. Saludos.

  2. Ciuahtan is just down the road from my wife's family's place. You standing on to top of the ruins brings back memories of my father and I when we climbed up there back in 2007, he passed away from cancer in '15.

  3. Indigo plant ? Who knew I always thought I came from a rock – durrrr. Fascinating info now I am better informed – great video guys like a fine double act

  4. Beautiful and interesting Índigo farm in El Salvador.
    Too bad there were no Cashew fruits available for you guys to pick and try.
    Were there any other tropical fruits available though?
    Enjoy your stay in paradise, greetings

  5. Unfortunetely none of those crops benefited the majoriy of the people so it was like it never existed back in those days because it was some way very similar to the cotton industry in the US slave labor that only benefitted the elites. Now is different because many locals are using this crop to make artesanal hand crafted goods. and I m sorry but there is so information about the mayan because their history is carved in stone they just havent figure out how to decoded and there is thousands of structures in the jungles of central america with so much knoweledge that will be earthen at some point when the money is available.

  6. What a great video. I didn't know we had one of them here in El Salvador. Thank you for sharing. On the other hand and about birds, a Rose-throated becard (Pachyramphus aglaiae) sang in a nearby tree when you showed the pineapple. Best regards.

  7. Arabella says HELLO GOATIES. 💜🐐🐐🐐🐐💜🌲🌲🌲🌲🌲🌲🌲
    And from the tree man Me
    Best wishes. Xx

  8. Cihuatán is one of my favorite archeological sites in El Salvador, you can truely breath peace there and you can see butterflies all over the grass. Also near is located the Guazapa Volcano that has orange plantation, wine and a nice river 👌 #don'tskipElSalvador

  9. Hey guy's thank you for show to the world are gastronomy in El salvador thank you for taking your time we really preached for show to the world to about are Archeology thak you for everything. God bless you guy's Enjoin see you soon ✌ ✌ ✌ ✌

  10. I’m a Salvadorian who lives in Austin Texas and if y’all ever need a driver in El Salvador I can recommend my mom’s driver who drive for her for 25 plus years and was her driver while she work with U.N.

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