Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Then and Now

When Margaret Byrne, CSJP lived in El Despertar, San Salvador, in 1991-92 and worked with Eleanor Gilmore and Jesuit Refugee Services, she formed strong ties with Estela Garcia, Rosita Ayala and Armando Ramirez. One of the joys of the past week has been visiting with each of these old friends and seeing that they are all doing well in the present realities of El Salvador.

Yesterday we visited Armando, his wife Blanca Luz and their daughter Erica in their home in Zamoran, close to the Pacific coast. Armando got to show off his entrepreneurial spirit, as he took us on a tour of the beautiful house he and Blanca Luz designed and built, and of his recently planted orchard, already yielding coconuts, oranges, limes, bananas and plantains, with young mangoes and papayas maturing toward their fruiting time. The newest element in his granja (farm) is a sturdy, cement-floored pen for his two new sows, who will be producing piglets as soon as he's able to introduce them to a boar. These were the cleanest pigs any of us had ever seen. All around us were other healthy animals, chickens, breeding dogs and a charming cat, all testimony to the care Armando brings to his farm. This year the fruits will be extra necessary, as will be the proceeds from Armando's other job, electronics repair, because in the heavy rains and floods his corn and bean crop - the staples of life here - were completely lost.

Armando and Margaret had a very joyful reunion, and we even got to visit briefly with Armando's brother-in-law Ramon before heading back on a very long drive to Suchitoto. This was the last big trip for my visitors, who head back to winter tomorrow, and a splendid experience of Salvadoran hard work and determined intelligence.

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