Thursday, November 5, 2009

St. Christopher's busdrivers

Today is St. Christopher's Day, at least in El Salvador (Wikipedia lists May 9th in the East and July 25th in the West as his feast days, so I'm not clear why the November 5th celebration). Christopher, the saint who's imaged carrying the Christ Child across a river has long been the patron saint of travellers, though his name is no longer in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints (since he seems to have been a somewhat legendary figure). In El Salvador he's the patron saint of bus drivers, and tonight the bus drivers in Suchitoto had a long and wonderful procession, with their buses dressed up with balloons and filled with kids throwing candy. We didn't have the equipment to capture this grand nighttime parade of buses in clear photos, but at least this impressionistic image may give you some idea of its cheerfulness. We stood out on our front stoop and applauded every bus as it passed. It's another Suchitoto festival - I never imagined a town could find so many reasons to throw a party.

There was a serious purpose to this parade and to a gathering of bus drivers in San Salvador, calling attention to the dangers bus drivers and passengers face during this crime wave. There have been too many murders of bus drivers, apparently because the owners of the bus lines refused to pay extortion money, or didn't pay as much as was demanded. Families of bus drivers worry every time they go to work. May St. Christopher protect them.

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