Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What we Do in San Salvador

• Eat Pupusas. These are not exactly quesadillas or empanadas but relatives of both, and its unclear to me if they are made with dough or tortillas, but they are usually filled with frijoles and queso, two of my major food groups.
• Watch assassin bees (because, so we are told, all honeybees in Central America are Africanized, hence abejas de asesino) collect nectar from the weeping red bottlebrush tree in downtown San Benito Colonia. (Later I learned that the tree I dubbed bottlebrush because the red flowers look so much like bottlebrushes is in fact called the Bottlebrush tree, which seems a remarkable case of nomenclature making sense. The Latin name is Callistemon, probably because there were no bottlebrushes back when Latin was the lingua franca. It is an evergreen of the Myrtaceae family, originally from Australia.
• Visit Centro Monseñor Romero on the grounds of the Universidad Centroamericana José Simeón Cañas, which is not where Bishop Oscar Romero was shot/ assassinated/martyred in 1980 but it is where 6 Jesuit priests were massacred in 1989 and if you are there when it is open you can see their preserved bloodstained shirts, behind glass, but it was not open when we were there because it was a special employees’ holiday so we only saw the scrapbooks with pictures of the bloody bodies, and it was very gruesome indeed, and we wandered in the Rose Garden where the massacre took place and which is now a peaceful Rose Garden with black baggies wrapped around the branches of certain roses that we assumed to be for grafting purposes. I had to go there, hoping it would be open when the guidebook said it would be open, because the cause of Romero’s canonization if being promoted and not surprisingly there is much controversy regarding this, and how you feel about it seems to depend on your stand on liberation theology. And in case you don’t know, my new novel (Absent a Miracle, have I mentioned this before?) hinges on the possible canonization of a certain Nicaraguan’s possible-virgin great-aunt.
• Go to MARTE, the Art Museum, where we saw several paintings by artists we would like to know more about, such as Mena Rosa Valenzuela & Salvador Salazar & Benjamin Cañas. The museum, last Saturday morning, was full of schoolchildren being herded – unsuccessfully – by teachers and guards, and art students drawing each other.
• Attend the wedding, which is after all the reason we are here. It takes place at a coffee finca above the city of San Salvador and it was a blast to see people I haven’t seen in twenty or even thirty years and consider how much they have aged and then come to the sobering realization that I too have aged in tandem, unless of course cosmetic surgery has intervened and in that case one is sometimes unrecognizable.
The service, in a small stone chapel with ferns growing in its interstices, was officiated by the archbishop known as Your Eminence Ambien, on account of his unmediated drone, something his sous-priests work for years to emulate. I however stayed awake for the nuptial (see previous post for pronunciation hints) homily and so I heard said eminence refer to Saint Anthony, whose feast it was on Saturday, but not to Saint Felicula, whose feast it also was and who in 90 AD was consigned to the Vestal Virgins to weaken her resistance to the marriage offer of Count Flaccus (his real name), but her resistance did not weaken and she was martyred by suffocation in a city sewer. * In this aspect of restraint from mentioning the saint’s gruesome death –and only in this aspect, I feel sure – the archbishop and I are alike. For I too refrained from alluding to Saint Theodosia’s gruesome death on the glorious occasion of Tristram and Nika’s marriage.

* Of course the salient point about this is that in first century Rome there was a sewer system, a much appreciated aspect of communal living that did not make it to vast sections of the northlands until last week.

1 comment:

Mira Costa said...

I had great fun reading your vivid and entertaining account of your time in San Salvador. Thanks. Sounds wonderful.