Tuesday, January 6, 2009

At Calle Real

Today was a day for memories and visits. In the morning, we went to the offices of the Archdiocese of San Salvador where Andrea visited with Dina, her friend here from the mid-1980s when Sisters Andrea and Margaret Jane Kling worked together at Calle Real, the Archdiocesan refugee camp outside the city. Sister Eleanor worked there for a month at the beginning of her first time in El Salvador, and shared the memories of what it had been. I've heard several stories about Calle Real, especially on this visit. There was the time Andrea and Margaret Jane were pistol-whipped and had their car stolen by the police (a very effective priest in the Archdiocesan offices persuaded the police to return the vehicle). There were memories of eating beans and rice and the necessary tortilla, nothing more, with a plastic spoon and a bowl, and in the rainy season when water trucks and food trucks couldn't get up the very steep dirt road to Calle Real, even those simple foods weren't to be found. There was the time when the women of the camp would not let the police take men away from the refuge - and the women prevailed.

In the afternoon we visited Calle Real itself, now a retreat center. Little remains that Andrea and Eleanor could identify except the look of the land itself, but we found one ramshackle building with a concrete floor, plywood walls and a tin roof that was probably one of the communal houses. Trees had grown where once there was a clear vista to the north. No one except a gardener seemed to be there, but we felt the presence of all those refugees who had passed through Calle Real and found help and food and friendship there.

No comments:

Post a Comment