Sunday, September 6, 2009

Travelling with Hermana Margarita

Travelling anywhere around Suchitoto - probably anywhere around El Salvador - with Margaret Jane Kling - is glorious. Many, many people in this area remember Margaret Jane well from the Civil War years when she and Andrea Nenzel were the North American presence that kept the refugee population in the Calle Real camp safe, and they are so delighted to see her again, to give her news of their families, to ask where Sister Andrea is, to exchange un abrazo fuerte (a big hug).

Yesterday Margaret Jane and I went with Lita, one of the strong women from Calle Real who now lives near Suchitoto, to visit Fausto and his family in Tenancingo (that's Margaret Jane, Fausto and Lita in the top photo). Fausto became a refugee in Canada after his days in Calle Real, and spent 8 years in the Edmonton area; his two older daughters, now teenagers, are Canadian/Salvadoran citizens, and one of them, Andrea Elizabeth, is named after Andrea Nenzel. The two younger children, a girl and a boy, were born in El Salvador.

Fausto brought out his photo album to show us photos of Margaret Jane and Andrea 20-plus years ago, and the stories about life at Calle Real came thick and fast - the time a depressed young man tried to kill himself with rat poison (they found the antidote), the time the Army came wanting to get the names of everyone there and Andrea and Margaret Jane, who had very little Spanish at that time, had to hold them off, stories of births and deaths and living with daily fear.

Since he came back to El Salvador, Fausto has created a little paradise around his house - many fruit trees (lime, orange, marañon - that's cashew - mango, banana) with orchids and flowering plants beneath them. It's a beautiful place that witnesses his love of life and the artistic touch of his wife, Transito - who also makes the best pupusas I've ever eaten. Though both the older girls want to return to Canada - no doubt for better schooling and better opportunities - and Fausto is working to get papers for the whole family, I wonder if the many positive they'll find in life there can compensate for the loss of this beautiful home.

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