As our trips in November follow a similar schedule, we are here again on the weekend of the commemoration of the martyrs. It was 23 years ago that the six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her daughter were dragged from their quarters and murdered by the death squads. In a civil war full, as wars surely must be, of atrocities and the unthinkable, this act was so excessive that it marked the beginning of the end of the war. We’ve had opportunities in the past to visit the Catholic University and see the street murals made from sugar and sand, but we weren’t able to this year. So the 11 in our group will just have to come back for that extraordinary experience.
This time of evening is a good opportunity to look back at the day. We’ve prepared the street meal ingredients and they’re now simmering away. Tonight’s meal will be different. We will serve a big pot of rice and tortillas-nothing new there. But the other dish will be whole hard boiled eggs, peeled and covered with a rancheras sauce of Ki-ke’s own creation. It will be a meal both odd-looking and welcome.
Our tired group enjoyed the off day today. We had a late breakfast and then headed downtown for gift shopping. Dale, Marco, and I had visited this downtown gift center before and found it very “autentico,” but Marco had never taken a large group there before. And he still hasn’t. About 45 minutes into a challenging, congested drive into the heart of downtown, we crossed an intersection and entered a closed street. The road ahead was the site of some festival that we knew nothing of. Helpful pedestrians began banging on our windows to inform us, then hustled behind us to stop traffic and help us back up into the intersection. All that sounds fairly neat and tidy; please know that it wasn’t. But somehow the maelstrom around us was parted by good-hearted, if loud, locals who just wanted to help us out of our pickle. We were grateful, immediately heading off to the old stand-by gift market. No traffic problems there.
Following one more dandy meal at the Casa, we headed off to climb the San Salvador volcano–in our vehicles. Dale and I remembered that trip from 2009 as being an extremely tough drive. In a country with lots of competition, this might be the worst road we’d encountered. But the new government, probably in tandem with the cell companies whose towers line the volcano’s edge, has paved the road and developed a very nice tourist area at the start of the hike to the top. So we drove all three vehicles to the parking lot and enjoyed a rigorous and beautiful hike along the trails through the densely growing side of the volcano. We marveled at the flowers and lush growth and stood with jaws agape at the rim. The crater sides are sheer, steep, and breathtaking, especially if you’re acrophobic. We had a memorable adventure and made it down the mountain in time to shop for the last street meal. That story will be in tomorrow’s update.