26 January 2006

Companeros - Day 7

It wasn’t. When the psychologist arrived this morning she showed me the problem with the printer. Unfortunately, about that time they were calling ‘all aboard’ for another round of canton and house visits so I had to leave. But I told her (Yolbeth) that I’d work on it later that day, now that I understood the problem.

We were supposed to visit a couple houses this morning then a couple more cantones and La Quisera (the massacre site on the edge of the Berlin municipality that is a fairly recent discovery and excavation) in the afternoon. But last night Milagro suggested that was probably a bit too ambitious and that we should think about skipping La Quisera. We all agreed!

I put on sunscreen today. I’ll probably be black with dust sticking to it, but hey, that’s even better sun protection, right?

First we went to María Elena’s house. Her mom was such fun…very animated and joyous. Bob was in a hammock and she started rocking him and singing him a lullaby in Spanish. He snored theatrically.

Then we went to Otilia’s house. She lives pretty far out on the edge of town. Her mom wanted us to see the church on the corner so we walked down there and she opened it up for us. For a small barrio church, it had an impressive altar…all glass and icons and carved wood. And bats…lots of bats flitting about the alcove.

We went back to the Casa for a bit before lunch. I spent it mostly working on Bob’s PC or the Yolbeth’s printer. I fixed the latter but Bob’s PC is still not working right.
We had lunch then loaded up the pickup for the trip to El Corazol (Ankeny Presbyterian’s community – Marcia), the farthest canton in Berlin. This was also one of the hardest hit by the flooding, as it has the river as one of its borders. I think the entire community turned out to meet with us. They were quite excited to see Marcia again.

On the way back, we stopped in Casa de Zinc (Trinity’s community – Blair), a casarillo of San Isidro. They have a very impressive water tank and collection system. While Blair was meeting with the people and taking pictures of each family group, I picked up some reddish, puce-colored seeds from the ground under the big, gnarled tree by the tank. I asked Alejandro what they were and he didn’t know. He showed them to Cecilia who didn’t know either but showed them to a woman from the community. That woman pointed to a tree on the other side of the tank grounds that had long pods hanging from the branches. Cecilia and Otilia got very excited and led me over there. They said that the pods are used to make a fruity sort of drink and they started looking for long sticks to knock some down. At first I thought they were just doing that because I’d asked about them and I didn’t want them to go to all that trouble. But they wanted several to take back to the Casa.

The pods are probably 2 feet long and as big around as a half-dollar. They’re really hard, too…it took bashing them with one rock on another rock to break them open. Once open, Cecilia showed me how the seeds are packed in there surrounded by a clear, hard, red substance that reminded me of the melted sugar of stained glass cookies. That is, apparently, the part used to make the drink. Cecilia plucked the creamy-pale seeds (Cecilia said they change color as they dry) from their red-encased homes and gave them to me then picked some of the red stuff out and put it in her mouth. The rest of the pods they’d knocked down, they gathered up to take with them.

Back to the Casa for the rest of our last day in Berlin. I took a shower…scrubbing this time, with a bandana I’d brought from home (one of the items I never travel without!). We had supper then took photos of the Pastoral Team with Compañeros. We gave Alejandro and Walter their propinas (tips) and I gave them each a tatted heart I’d made on the trip.
We packed up and got ready to leave for the airport in the morning