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Happy National Pupusa Day!

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I am not sure if I have written much about pupusas, but I do love to eat them!  Since today, November 14th is National Pupusa Day in El Salvador, I decided to search the word "pupusa" in my Google photos to see what I would find.  Although Google could not really tell the difference between my photos of pupusas and those of tortillas, I was sort of impressed that the search feature identified any pupusa photos at all. If you are not familiar with pupusas, I am sorry.  They are delicious. The basic idea is to put soft, white cheese and other optional ingredients inside a tortilla and cook it on a griddle.  Common options are plain cheese, bean and cheese, cheese with shredded ayote (sort of like zucchinni) or chipilín, or cheese with beans and pork rinds. You can really put anything inside a pupusa.  Once, at a pupueria in Washington DC, I had a lobster and cheese pupusa. The masa or dough can be made from corn flour or rice flour, and depending on where you are in El Salvador

The Legend of the Priest with no Head

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Tales of mysterious encounters with a headless priest in the dark of night are not uncommonly told among the Salvadoran people.  After the time of the Spanish invasion, when conquerors wielding swords or carrying Bibles established their power, there emerged a legend of an imaginary priest who wanders in the streets and pathways as a lost soul. He appears to those who are out walking in the evening. He is searching for his head.  He, or perhaps his head, lets out screams into the night. Those who see him feel cold and are sometimes paralyzed with fear and cannot speak for days. The story of the Priest with no Head is well-known and frequently told in Tonacatepeque.  Some say the ghost of El Padre sin Cabeza (the headless priest) is real. Some say the story was invented by the church in order to scare indigenous people into becoming Christians. Some who study traditional, Salvadoran tales say this legend was created by enemies of the church.   A painting of the Padre sin Cabeza (headles

The Legend of the Grandmother's Jug

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Many of the post-colonial legends from Tonacatepeque were created in order to teach lessons such as: don't go out at night alone, don't be unfaithful to your beloved, you can't hide misbehaviors from the church (or God), bad choices have consequences, etc. Some of the stories, like this one, share a little bit about history, a little bit about nature, and a little bit of humor. This is just one of several "buried treasure" tales which one might be told. Photograph taken at a temporary exhibit in the gallery at Parque Cuscatlán The Legend of the Grandmother's Jug In the olden days, it was customary to use a botija as a safe place in which to keep documents or treasures.  The botija  is like a traditional water jug (maybe shaped like an urn), but we could think of it as a pot, a jar, or any kind of container in which one could keep something. It was the custom of the generations which came before us, to keep any extra money not immediately needed in something l

The Legend of the Flirty Parrot

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We walked toward the edge of town. "What's the story about that old church?" I asked. The building looked nearly abandoned. "That is the Iglesia Catolica El Calvario.  They are working on the church, I think, but they still meet. This neighborhood is called El Calvario. When we walk to the edge of town, we say we are going to El Calvario . It's an expression we use because we say at the edge of every town, it is called El Calvario.  'We will meet you at Calvary' means we will meet you at the edge of town." There is a story from this neighborhood of Tonacatepeque, El Calvario. Like many of the legends from Tonaca, this one is meant to cause the listeners to think about their behavior. Thanks to Sonia and the women's group in Tonaca as well as author José María Melgar Callejas for this story. The Legend of the Flirty Parro t    In the outer corridor of a house in El Calvario, there was a bird cage, and inside the cage, there was a guest - a parrot

The Legend of the Bald Buzzard

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On an ordinary evening in Tonaca, in an ordinary and dimly lit room, the rhythmic words of an ordinary  story-teller may be heard - ordinary words weaving themselves together in an extraordinary tale. Tonacatepeque is known for its tales.  In multi-generation households, the elders still spin their stories into the imaginations of their grandchildren.  Although many families may not be sitting around lit candles and sharing spooky stories well into the evening, the town's cultural center works with the local schools, community radio station and the mayor's office to keep Tonaca's traditions alive. October begins with the Day of the Child, and in Tonaca, ends with the festival of la Calaviusa*. It seems the perfect month for sharing a few mysterious tales.  Stories passed on through oral tradition often have many versions, because each story teller incorporates not only what they have heard over the years, but also what they themselves have experienced.   After spending more

Just Click: Adiós Septiembre y Hola Octubre

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I clicked my way through September, still mostly seeing the sites in motion through the windows as the pandemic continues to impact gathering life, event life, celebration life. September is independence month, so I'll start off with a little tribute to Salvadoran blue and white : San Salvador, resting in the valley under a patriotic sky Getting ready for a big game outside Estadio Cuscatlán Car flags No need to pop into Metro Centro to get your shirts - just make your choice when traffic slows. Obviously a flag...maybe less obviously with wheels... ...and connected to a corn car... ...and now you see it's a train. This mural is one of several painted by the artist known as "El Indio". The murals are being made in conjunction with the  mayor's office in San Salvador to help the community to "recover its values." The idea is to tell stories which reach through time.   What images do you see in this mural? The stoplight at this corner only allows 2 or 3 ca

Mission of Healing 2021 Final Theme: Yoga and Reflexology Ideas for Stress Management

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It's been a stressful year. Everywhere. The impact of the pandemic on our circle of friends in El Salvador is particularly heavy this week:  several deaths from COVID, including a young youth group leader.; two suicides - young people struggling with depression. Even the most hopeful among us are feeling pretty down right now. We all just try to help where we can. We do what we are able to do.  We keep on keeping on. The church teams that are using the Mission of Healing materials this year tell us that the discussions are good. We often hear from the adults that they really love coloring because it helps them to destress.  As the year has progressed, we have actually tried to design the adult information pages so the illustrations can be colored during the presentation and discussion.  We decided to make the final workshop for the year a continuation of the focus on stress, with a bit of yoga and reflexology and some tips for managing stressful moments.  The Salvadoran Lutheran Ch