Showing posts from March, 2022

Fireworks, Chuco, Romero and Hope

We got up at 4 AM so we could be in the community for the celebration in the madrugada (the wee hours of the morning). Most of the people who care about this tradition are grandparents now.  Well, we are too. We arrived at about 5:30. The light was on inside the church.  The streets were quiet except for the harmonies of the chicharras, the roosters and the songbirds waking in the trees.   Back in the day, the first fireworks exploded over ramshackle rooftops at 1 AM and 2 AM, and by 3 AM, people would begin to gather at the church. The women would have been up all night stirring the chuco and the men would start making speeches interspersed with traditional music pushed into the community over a loudspeaker. By 5 AM, the party was alive with children squealing at the fireworks and sparklers. Families would huddle together in the cool morning air, dunking their pan francés into their cups of warm chuco . The pastor would pray and lead everyone in singing Las Mañanitas (the traditional

Just Click: Passing the Pasarelas

Typical pasarela in San Salvador.  I am maybe a little bit obsessed with pasarelas. This is the second time I am writing exclusively about pasarelas. My husband thinks I am weird because I take pictures of pasarelas while we are driving, and I have been known to stimulate our car conversation with an enthusiastic "Rats, I missed it! Did you see that pasarela?"  My husband's response is usually a dull, "What?" as I twist myself around toward the rear window to try to grab a picture of a flight of pasarela stairs as we whiz by.  Typical flight of stairs up to a pasarela. For those who may not know, "pasarelas" are pedestrian bridges which cross over busy roadways. Why do I notice them? I am a sort of nerdy engineer-type, but mostly, I think it's because Salvadoran pasarelas are almost by nature, ridiculous. A few weeks ago, I mentioned to my husband that I might write another pasarela story.  I think he said "whatever" or "why" an

Together Again in El Paisnal

El Salvador shut down hard in March 2020. We made it out of the country just as the airport was closing down. We returned to the US and began a quarantine that would last much longer than anyone anticipated.  On March 12, 2020, we walked in the remembrance march from Las 3 Cruces (the 3 crosses) to El Paisnal, in remembrance of the murders of Father Rutilio Grande, Nelson Rutilio Lemus and Manuel Solórzano.  At that time, the faithful gathered in anticipation of the beatification of Father Rutilio. As always, it was a day filled with sunshine, music, flags, hats, friends, hugs, banners and stories.  Whenever we walk the 2-mile route together with friends, of course there are stories. We try to keep our personal tradition of participating in this annual pilgrimage, in part because our Lutheran Synod in Milwaukee has a shared history of accompaniment with Comunidad Rutilio Grande . There are 5 Salvadoran Lutheran Church communities in the vicinity of El Paisnal, and often, folks from the

Enma's Basket - A Story for International Women's Day

One day, we went on a mission to the old house. We went to find a basket - Enma's basket. No one was currently living in the house. Enma's daughter had left some years before to keep her young son safe from gang activity.  He was only seven, but the big boys were already trying to manipulate him, to recruit him to spy. The young mom abandoned their home, taking their clothes and what they could carry. After some difficult times, the daughter and her son settled safely in the countryside.   When she left, the daughter had been unable to take the basket. She hoped she would find it in the house. Her father and her younger sister sometimes stayed there. The daughter unlocked the door. Lots of memories rushed into the daughter's heart, and my heart too, like the water that once rushed into the home when it was a simple lean-to snugged up against the dirt hillside. In those days, Enma and her husband would gather up all their belongings and pile them onto the beds, along with th