What do you do when torrential rains wash out a planned day trip to the beach? First, you give thanks that the intermittent downpour hasn’t washed out the hotel and the roads around it, then you make alternative plans.
The delegation from Calvary Baptist Church in Washington D.C., with whom I’m traveling this week, found several things to do on a rainy day, beginning with a trip to the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Holy Savior, El Salvador’s national cathedral. As one might expect, it was far fancier and more substantial than any of the other churches we’ve visited during the week.
Former archbishops are buried beneath the cathedral in a large circular room with a vaulted ceiling, with a special memorial to Msgr. Oscar Romero. Of all the many things Romero said, the quote chosen to be engraved on the memorial was “Sentir con la Iglesia,” which carries the sense of “feel with the church.” Like others involved with the theology of liberation, he believed God had a special care for the poor, and that Christian leaders should do the same.
We planned to drive near the top of an extinct volcano and hike to the top, but the rains continued, so we had lunch at a nice restaurant about halfway up the mountain that promises diners a scenic view overlooking the city of San Salvador. Instead, we had a chilly view of the clouds covering the city of San Salvador, but enjoyed the food, the fellowshiip, and the setting just the same.
After lunch we visited the art gallery of Fernando Llord, one of El Salvador’s most famous artists, whose colorful style was chosen to decorate the front of the chapel next to the Romero Center in San Salvador. After we spent some time browsing and buying, our talented bus driver worked his way through the traffic to a stand where we could enjoy rigua, something we’d been waiting for all week.
Rigua is made from fresh corn, so it is only available seasonally, and then only late in the afternoon. It is like heavy cream-style corn mixed with flour, flattened into a patty, and cooked on a grill. Cheese and beans can be folded into the rigua, which is served on a corn husk and best enjoyed with fresh corn atol, a thick drink that tastes much like corn pudding.
A time of reflection that night provided an opportunity to share insights and learnings we’d gained during the week, and there were many. As we depart El Salvador on Saturday, we all will do so with a much greater appreciation for El Salvador, its people, and the great sufferings that continue to shape the country.
[Note: Facebook users can see more pictures from the week by “liking” the “Calvary Baptist Church, Washington, DC” page]