06 September 2009

Market, Mass and Volcano - Sept 6

I slept pretty well last night (earplugs!) but still heard the roosters starting in the wee hours, the dog next door, and the church bell at 5am. When my roomie, Jane, got up around 5:30, I was awake. No running water this morning so it was a dump shower…a very cold dump shower.

I dressed for church and had some coffee. The first cup was instant, then Cecilia broke out the brew pot by my 2nd one. I got nominated to send the email to Westminster to be read at the pulpit for the service there this morning. I borrowed Kathy’s computer to do that. I hope to hit the cyber café across the street later for a bigger catch up at some point.

Breakfast was eggs with green pepper and onion, red beans with onion, fried plantains and orange drink. Jane and Alisha did dishes.

It’s windy and cloudy this morning. We all went to scoop the market before Mass. We ran into Haydee and her daughter Mily in front of the pupuseria. Mily will be our translator later in the week. We also ran into Kathy just outside the church as we headed to Mass…which started pretty much on time (surpise!).

When it was time for communion, Kathy told us that, unlike in the U.S., we were welcome to partake if we wanted. Kathy said that when Father Cándido first arrived she introduced herself and explained a bit about the delegations that come to visit. She asked him about the propriety of her or the delegations taking communion at the church and, at first, he was confused about why she would ask. She explained that in the United States, she would not be allowed (as a non-Catholic) to take communion at a Catholic Mass. He was incredulous. It started a very animated conversation between him and the other father at the church about the theology involved. Kathy couldn’t follow much of it but after it was over, Fr Cándido reiterated that Kathy and any delegation member would be welcome to come forward for communion.

After Mass, we walked the market again. We bought 3 anonas for 50-cents so that we could sample them. I’d never seen them before…they look kind of like artichokes, only less spiky. I also bought a bar of soap for the Casa bathroom I am using, since I didn’t pack any. We stopped at a candy booth on the street and bought some sweets for the house. The women at the house like them but would never buy them for themselves. Kathy said the booth would be there all week since it was part of the early set up for the Independence Day celebration on the 15th.

Back at the Casa, it was lunch time. Cecilia had made cauliflower relleno, salad, rice and a drink made from watermelon, strawberry and apple all chopped up. I changed out of church clothes and into shorts and a tank top. There’s still a bit of a breeze and the sun is playing peek-a-boo with clouds. Sometimes it’s hot and sunny, sometimes it’s not.

After lunch, we had a meeting with Miguel to review the books on the church project. He showed us the receipts and accounting. Lynn, since she’s an accountant by trade, reviewed his work and signed off on it. Then we talked about the next couple of days. We’re scheduled to go to San Francisco tomorrow to help paint the doors and windows of the church prior to the big dedication celebration on Wednesday.

Since we were supposed to be painting (with oil-based paint) and none of us had brought work clothes to paint in, we decided to make another trip to the market to look for cheap clothes. We walked to the cheap end of the market and I scored a T-shirt for $2.50 and a pair of shorts for $1.

Back to the Casa, we decided that the weather was going to hold clear for a while so we headed out to the Laguna de Alegria with the addition of sunscreen. The Laguna is a lake inside a volcano crater. I’d been there before but I’d never seen the water level so high. We went for a walk along the lake, headed for the other side to look for volcanic vents. We didn’t find any vents but we did find a few warm holes. Vents are the holes or fissures where hot air and sulfur-smelling gases vent to the surface and sometimes you can find yellow sulfur crystals growing. Warm holes are where people have dug into the banks in certain spots. When you put your hand into the hole, it’s not hot but it is definitely warmer than the surrounding ground or air temperature.

On the way back to the Casa I rode in the back of the pickup. We stopped at the edge of Alegria to pick up a couple of guys that Cecilia (also in the back of the truck) knew. A little further on, we stopped to pick up a group of 3 adults and 4 small kids (all under 5). The bigger group got out about halfway back to Berlin. The 2 guys got out at the upper edge of Berlin. Kathy says her policy is that if she’s got time and there’s room, she’ll stop to pick up A) people she knows or B) women with loads and/or small children in tow.

Back at the Casa, I asked Blanca and Cecilia if I could help with supper and Blanca trained me on making empanadas…basically a mashed boiled-plantain paste that’s filled with a milk-and-rice-flour mixture then fried. My job was to form the empanadas and hand them to Blanca who fried them. Alisha offered to help too and Cecilia had her making quesadillas. The quesadillas there are not like they are here. There, they’re made from leftover tortillas (which are also not like tortillas here…they’re made of corn flour and a little smaller than a CD, maybe a quarter-inch thick). The tortillas are cut in half so that you end up with half-circle tortillas, then mostly separated through the straight side, like a pita. The slit is stuffed with cheese and then the whole thing is fried until the cheese melts. It’s not a runny kind of cheese so the frying doesn’t cause the cheese to run out when it melts.

Supper was quesadillas, empanadas, rice/beans and some of the sweets we bought for dessert.

After supper, Michael, Jane, Lynn and I talked about hospice work for a while. Michael and Lynn were interested. Jane has worked as a hospice volunteer for a long time. While I didn’t know much from personal experience, I knew a little from Alan having started as a hospice volunteer this summer. He works for a different hospice than Jane so there were some minor differences in how their volunteer gigs go. We priced a bunch of bags that we’ll be carrying back for Companeros. I took a shower, then read some before bed. My feet and ankles have been swelling since I got here. That’s happened one other time on a trip here. I don’t know why. Kathy said maybe the elevation. I know that standing in the back of the pickup for trips definitely makes it worse. Maybe elevating and massaging them will help…

My bed is seriously hammocked in the middle. I’m in the bottom of a bunk bed. I think it’s just been slept in a lot and the caning that supports the mattress has loosened up. I tried the top bunk and it’s better but I don’t really want to be climbing up and down all the time. Jane scouted around and found a piece of plywood in the garage that’s smaller than the bed. We put it under the mattress and it seems to help.

I read some more, lying on the bed with my feet propped up against the bottom of the upper bunk. Michael, Alisha and Jane are in the dining room outside playing “Egyptian Rat Screw”…a card game that sounds like a cross between War and Slap Jack. The most commonly heard phrase: “Dang it!” from Michael.