Today we went to the community of Alejandría to do the rosary and celebrate Cecilia’s birthday. We left around 2:00pm in the truck. We went a different way than usual. I’d never been that way before. It was more scenic than the normal route but really bumpy. At one point we encountered a horse in the road that Balmore had to help move out of the way. We also came across a downed tree. At first we weren’t sure if the pickup could pass underneath. But Balmore held up the branch while Kathy drove underneath. I was standing in the back and had to duck down so as not to get hit.
When we arrived at Cecilia’s house everyone was helping to get things ready for the rosary. We immediately snuck the piñata Kathy had bought for Cecilia into the house. Elmer cut a hole in it since there wasn’t one already there. Then Elmer and Marvin stuffed it full of the candy I’d bought yesterday. Cecilia’s nephew, Freddy, was watching us while munching on some sort of food. They told me it was called “pepeto.” He offered me some to eat. It was inside a pod and the seeds were surrounded by the slippery fruit. I thought it was tasty.
Caution: Horse in the road
Up or down?
Caution: Branch in the road
He lifted up the branch
Freddy eating pepeto
Stuffing the pinata
Into the head
Is is done yet?
Kathy and I went to go help out in the kitchen area. Aminta and Idalia were cutting up fruit to put in the fresco they were creating. A fresco is basically a chunky drink made with fresh fruit, water, and sugar. You slice the fruit up into tiny pieces and later add water and sugar. This can be done with almost any kind of fruit. Today we sliced up mangos, grapes, strawberries, apples, watermelon, cantaloupe, and mamey. I was excited to see what the mamey fruit looked like since I’d had mamey fresco before. We both grabbed knives and started cutting up fruit.
Cecilia and Blanca were behind us cooking chicken and lettuce to put in the sandwiches we’d have after the rosary. When they were finished they started putting together the sandwiches while Kathy and I bagged them up. Then Rosa and Idalia started to bag up the juice. Many times people use bags to serve juice instead of cups.
Soon people started to arrive and I asked Kathy the name of a woman sitting outside. Kathy peered out the door and told me her name. Then Kathy said, “I could have just looked through the wall.” Like many homes in the cantons, the wall is built of some corrugated metal and wood. There are several gaps in the “wall”. Also, I call it a kitchen area because it’s not what people in the states would consider a kitchen. It has a dirt floor, one wooden table, and a stove made of clay/cement. The fuel used here is firewood that the family collects from around their property.
Cutting up fruit
Working on mangos
The dogs are helping
Eating some of the pinata candy
Freddy asked me to take a picture of the chairs
I'm not sure why
Proof that Kathy helped out
Proof that I helped out
Inside the mamey
Time to scoop it into bags
At 3:15pm we started the rosary. As I mentioned before, this is the Month of the Virgin so there are rosaries being done every night throughout the country. The rosary tonight was similar to the one we went to on Tuesday. There were a lot of Hail Marys and Our Fathers which I have yet to learn in Spanish. Toward the end of the rosary Balmore spoke (I thought this was kind of like the homily). Balmore talked about having confidence in Jesus. He said that we must keep our faith and our hope. It doesn’t matter what our problems are in life or what we lack –opportunities, school, basic medical care care, water, food – Jesus is always with us. We must remember that and look for him in the faces of others. We must do our best for our community.
I was very moved by this part of the rosary. Here are people with close to nothing and yet they keep their faith alive. And when I say close to nothing I mean outdoor toilets, mosquito ridden houses, dirt floors, school that is a 2-mile walk away, and difficult access to quality medical care. They only recently gained easy access to water. I feel humbled and my problems seem so small when things are put into perspective. I feel spoiled by the luxuries I am afforded not only in my life in the States but also my life here in El Salvador. It might be less than what I’m used to in Iowa, but it is far more than most people in the country will ever have. I thought this was a good way to end the rosary. I like it when celebrations or services leave me thinking.
After the rosary we passed out the sandwiches and fresco to everyone. Kathy and the ladies created some special fresco for me without the watermelon or cantaloupe (I am allergic to both). I was really excited because I LOVE frescos here. It was so delicious that I actually had seconds. The sandwich was tasty as well. I’m still not used to people putting chicken in sandwiches that still have the bones in them and I don’t think I’ll ever understand why they do that. I’ve also seen bones in tamales before. I took them out and fed them to the dogs.
After everyone was finished and it was just Cecilia’s and Blanca’s families left we did the piñata. Elmer tried throwing the rope over a tall tree but it wasn’t working so Mauricio quickly climbed the tree to grab the rope as Elmer threw it. It worked! Plus that way Mauricio could move the piñata up and down as people swung at it. A nearby stick that Cecilia found served as our piñata whacking stick.
Freddy started off the piñata whacking. He wasn’t blindfolded at first but then someone found a bandana in the house. When he’d finished his turn Blanca tried to get Cecilia to take a turn but she decided against it. So Marvin was up next. I was sure he’d bust the piñata wide open and indeed some of the candy spilled out but not all of it. Cecilia said it was my turn next. So I was blindfolded and wildly swung at the piñata. It’s been a while since I’ve done that and it was fun to do it again.
When I’d finished Balmore went. I blindfolded him and he went to town hitting the piñata. It swung back and forth with people ducking out of the way. Soon it burst open and all the candy flew out. We scrambled to pick up candy. People were filling their shirts. Even the dogs joined in on at the action and ate a couple pieces of candy still wrapped. Kathy and I gave our candy to Marvin and Freddy since neither one of us needs any more candy (okay, I especially do not need more candy).
It was getting close to 5:30pm so we said goodbye to everyone and Kathy, Blanca, Idalia, Aminta, and I got back in the truck to head to Berlín. It was a fun day!! We have two more rosaries to go to next week. The Pastoral House (Kathy and I) are holding one at Blanca’s house on Tuesday. We’re going to make some traditional American food for after the rosary. It should be fun!
Cecilia got Barney!
Freddy really likes him!
Well, maybe not
Throwing the rope up to Mauricio
The pinata swung back and hit him
Cecilia refused to hit the pinata
Blanca is trying to blindfold her
Some candy spilled and Freddy almost ran after it
I had fun whacking Barney
Balmore also got hit by the pinata
Blanca is ducking for cover
Freddy is running toward the action
Cecilia is laughing hysterically
I want lots!
Innocent little face
Even Aminta got a bunch of candy
The dogs had fun too
There's Barney's eye!
It's now on my wall at home
Searching for more candy
Time to head home