Saturday, October 8, 2011


On Thursday I began the day by providing transportation for a small delegation from Guacotecti, Cabañas, where the women who are hoping to start an egg farm have found the perfect piece of land. They need to raise more money to complete the land purchase and put together the hen house and buy the hens and their feed, and a second grant request is in process. This particular grant requires the approval and signature and seal of the bishop for their diocese, which is San Vicente. So I drove to San Rafael Cedros, picked up Iris Alas and Leslie Schuld of CIS and Elmira and Rosa from Guacotecti, and we drove off to San Vicente where we had an appointment with the Vicar (the Bishop was out of town).

It was a pleasant drive and we were soon in San Vicente where we found that the Vicar, too, was out of town, having been called out on an emergency, so we explained ourselves to his secretary and a helpful young man who had been engaged in plastering the walls of the historic church where the Vicar has his office. The only challenge was the seal: they showed us a seal of the rubber-stamp variety, but this grant required an embossed seal, and we all collaborated together to figure out what that was in Spanish: sello en relieve turned out to be the answer.

My day went on to include a lengthy rumble through the streets near the church everyone knows as Don Rua, though in fact its name is Maria Auxiliadora (photo above). A classic Salvadoran rebranding: it will do you no good to look for Don Rua on a map, but everyone knows where it is. I asked who Don Rua was and someone told me he was the Italian priest who'd built the church - but a bit of web research convinces me that he was the successor to Don Bosco, the founder of the Salesians. I was scouting around Don Rua's neighborhood to find a house I'd visited just a couple of days before that seemed to be in a perfectly obvious location. Unfortunately, it had relocated, or I had. I was trying to drive west in an area near the historic centro where the major streets ran north-south, where one-ways existed with no markings, and where you had to cross the major streets (with no traffic lights helping you) by gunning the motor at the first sign of opportunity. I almost became another traffic statistic, but my guardian angel, my brakes and my reflexes were working overtime, and I finally found the house only a block away.

And then I drove very meekly and properly to Anne and Rafael's new townhouse in Escalon. We walked to a sweet restaurant around the corner located in a vivero, a plant nursery, and had dinner while a video of ABBA (who knows why) played on the restaurant's two big screens. And then I drove home to Suchitoto to find that a huge storm had passed by while I was away, leaving a small lake in the living room and 42 lemons in the patio.

I can't think of a more satisfactory way to spend your 70th birthday. Mission, misdirection, friends and ABBA. Mamma Mia!

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