On Thursday, November 7, a woman from the caserío of Los Cruces in the canton of San Francisco died. Her name was Argelia del Carmen Flores and she would have been 43 years old on November 11. She leaves behind a husband and 11 children and a couple grandchildren.
Argelia had walked down into a ravine in her caserío of Los Cruces where everyone in her caserío goes to get water. The climb down is difficult and walking back up with a large cántaro full of water is even more difficult. She was at the bottom filing her cántaro (water jug) for her family. She was accompanied by several other people. Out of nowhere came a landslide. Earth and large rocks fell on top of her and killed her. I’m not sure if she was killed instantly or if she lived a short while after that.
Argelia's family on November 9
Argelia’s funeral was on November 8. Today, November 16, is the ninth day of her death. For Catholics in El Salvador that means there will be a vigil. Since Argelia died outside her home, there was going to be a procession from the place where she died to her home. Then the family and friends will stay up all night singing and praying.
The Pastoral Team made the decision to go visit the family. Since the family doesn’t have much water, the Pastoral Team took a large tank full of water for the family. They also took tons of flowers for the altar they would be setting up inside the house to honor Argelia.
We piled into the truck around 10:00am and headed out for San Francisco. Argelia’s husband and one of her son’s were with us. Thankfully, we were able to take the direct road to San Francisco instead of the other road which takes about 2 hours.
When we got out of the truck we were immediately surrounded by kids. Wherever we go to San Francisco there are always lots of kids following us, but especially in the caserío of Los Cruces. I got out my camera and started taking pictures. The kids loved having their picture taken and were soon posing and asking me to take more pictures of themselves and of other things. It was good to see them smiling, especially Argelia’s kids.
One of the girls brought over the picture of her mother. She and her sister talked a little bit about their mom. They brought over another picture and explained that it was of their mother and her daughter, Lupe’s, first communion. I also talked briefly to Argelia’s mother. She told me that Argelia had 13 children, but 2 twins died when they were young so she now has 11 children.
Argelia's daughter, Lupe
Sitting on the pickup
Posing for pictures
A good-looking group
Argelia's youngest daughter, Paz del Carmen
Take a picture of the pig!
All in the truck
Now take a picture of the dog!
Argelia del Carmen Flores
Argelia and her daughter, Lupe
As I was chatting with the kids, Blanca and Idalia were helping to create the altar inside the home. Katherine helped with the altar and chatted with the kids as well. After a while, the kids really wanted attention. I showed the Argelia’s youngest daughter how to use my camera. Not a great idea. She wanted to take lots and lots of pictures. I managed to get it turned off and distracted the group by pulling out my notebook. I drew pictures of different things and soon they’d taken off with my notebook to do drawings of their own.
As soon as Blanca and Idalia finished up the altar it was time for lunch. We were taken next door and a lovely meal of chicken, rice, and tortillas had been prepared. It was an honor to sit inside someone’s home and have a meal prepared for us when it wasn’t our family member who had died. People here are so gracious and so humble. I have learned a lot from them about life.
Little Paz took this picture of me
Gathered around drawing pictures
The altar in honor of Argelia
Argelia's photo in the middle
When we finished lunch it was time to start the walk down the ravine to the place where Argelia was killed. The walk down was incredibly difficult. Probably one of the worst trails I’ve been on here in Berlin. But Katherine and I figured that if Argelia’s 80+ year old mother and Argelia’s pregnant daughter could do it, then we should at least attempt the walk. We both almost slipped at one point or another. Thankfully, neither one of us fell down.
We finally reached the place where Argelia died. People will still need to return to this place in order to get water for their homes. Daniel, the Delegate of the Word, spoke briefly and then he and Miguel, the president of Directiva, made a hole in the ground and erected a green cross in memory of Argeila. The large rocks that had fallen on top of Argelia were still there. Her daughter-in-law, Patricia, pointed them out to me.
When the cross was in place, we began the slow procession up the hill. People sang and prayed as we made our way up the hill. Katherine and I were toward the front of the group with some of the kids. We walked for about 30 to 45 minutes before we reached the school in San Francisco. That’s where the procession turned to return to Argelia’s house. We said goodbye and that point since we needed to get back to Berlin.
There was so much about the day that made it difficult: Thinking about the kids who lost their mother and the husband who lost his wife. Experiencing the walk to the water source where people have to go in order to get water to drink, bath, shower, wash, and cook. Seeing the rocks that killed Argelia in the same place they had fallen. Listening to Argelia’s mom talk about how her daughter was too young to die. While it wasn’t a pleasant experience, it’s one I hope I never forget.
Following Flor down the hill
There goes Argelia's mom
Crossing the road
Listening to Daniel
The place where Argelia died
Processing to Argelia's house