Morazan is one of the fourteen departments (sometimes translated as "provinces") of El Salvador. It is located in the northeastern part of the country, and its departmental seat is San Francisco Gotera. Much of the area is mountainous and cool most of the year, but downhill in Gotera, the temperature can reach into and beyond 100°F or 37°C. During the civil war of the 1980s, this department saw much of the heaviest fighting, including the famed El Mozote massacre. Fifteen years after the peace accords, the area is recovering and rebuilding.
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You can find buses running to Gotera, Sociedad, Corinto and other towns in the department, as well as to San Miguel or La Unión. "Kilometer 18" stop is a major center for changing routes. Outside the towns, if you have no transport of your own, such as a bike or car, and do not care to walk, you will need to depend on local pickups that carry large numbers of hitchhikers from place to place; expect to ride in the truck bed, often standing up. If you speak Spanish, it is not a bad idea to check with other riders to find out what they paid; those who do not appear to be Salvadoran have sometimes been greatly overcharged, on the assumption that they can and will pay without question. These days, one occasionally finds someone who will provide a free ride if it is on the way, but most locals have little steady income, and it is appropriate at least to ask, "Cuánto le debo?" (How much do I owe you?)
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Morazán is an especially rural part of a developing country. In the whole northeastern region of La Unión-Morazán, do not expect recognition of the same world-famous travelers' checks that are a recommended part of travel in even the most remote parts of, say, Mexico. There is now a bank in Corinto, which would suggest that larger cities such as Gotera likely have at least one bank, possibly more. However, travelers' checks are still unlikely to work there.
Western Union offices are available for money transfers, but their policy for identification contradicts the policy stated on the forms used by US senders. While Western Union forms indicate that the recipient must provide photo identification, the actual practice in Morazán is that this photo ID is not sufficient; the recipient must be able to provide the identification code provided on the sender's receipt. Therefore, when wiring or being wired money, it is important that the sender contact the recipient to communicate this code.
Do not expect most places to accept credit or debit cards; the rare shops that do often will add a 7% convenience fee to recoup recover card companies' processing charges, and not all shops that add this charge will have a posted policy, but they generally mention it when you offer a card for payment. Shops accepting cards increasingly accept cards that were hard to use outside of North America such as Discover; however, transactions involving cards have a spotty record of success unrelated to the amount being charged.
When paying with cash, which is the usual mode in Morazán, be aware that many shops cannot or will not handle bills larger than $20 US, and occasionally may ask if you have a smaller bill if your purchase is inexpensive.
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