Yesterday I snapped a shot of a worker penciling in outlines for new, brightly painted yellow quadrant of the main wall. He caught me taking the picture and in the deep mortification that comes with being caught and unable to explain your behavior adequately, I sauntered off too afraid to circle back around until today. The yellow field is now home to a crisp campaign promotion for Victor Castro a candidate for Diputado Federal of Distrito II. I don’t know Senor Castro but if I had to vote today, he’d get my vote.
The evening was so beautiful and cool that I decided on a whim to march past the murals to visit Miguel’s - a favorite among local restaurants. I elected to sit at the street-side bar and was delighted to see mi favorito baristo in all of Todos Santos still working there. Pablo taught me how to make the perfect margarita and no one does it better. I ordered a margarita and he engaged me in lively conversation as is his professional duty. I struggled a bit to find infrequently used words like “piscina” and “propidad” but was quite pleased with my Spanish throughout the exchange. I am finally able to listen without seizing up in fear that I won’t understand and feel foolish. Mid way through the high octane beverage Pablo asked in Spanish, “You have a little girl who draws pretty pictures, no?” Si! I beamed. And he produced a picture that Celia had made the year before of a perfect Pablo-made margarita. I don’t know if I was moved by the gesture or the monster pour of tequila but I was moved.
Humming with the energy of distilled agave, I wandered back through town toward the town square to await the sunset view. I was a bit early and heard sounds coming from the church so I walked into the cool, damp shade of the outer lobby – I know there is a good Catholic term for it but I can’t remember it. I saw that there are about 30 women in the church reciting prayers. I decide to slink into the back pew and check it out. Without a thought, I genuflected when entering the pew and watched my hand perform the sign of the cross before my chest. Wow! Now that is muscle memory!
I was trying hard to understand what they were saying but I was distracted by the building itself. It is more simple than any catholic church I had ever been in. Although there is a stained glass window over the alter, there is little other adornment. Then I notice that there are no prayer books or song books in the pews. Could it be that the population is not literate enough to warrant them? My attention is drawn back to the small congregation when they suddenly take to their feet, break in to song, and progress out of their pews headed straight for me! The procession of ladies, each carrying a sprig of purple flowers and singing out in reverent unison, crept up the outer aisles of the sanctuary. I clutched my bag ready to sprint from the coven. But at the break in the pews at the center of the church, the women leading the queues on either side turned toward the center aisle and directed their legions to the alter where they laid the flowers on the steps.
As they returned to their seats and the song expended one last melodious note, two women gathered up the flowers and began to redistribute them to the ladies who were again deep in prayer. In my 18 years of Catholicism, I had never seen anything quite like it but then I heard the pattern. A prayer beginning with “Maria”, over and over. And then a different prayer led with “Padre”. Could it be that they are saying the rosary? I listened harder. “en tierra como en el cielo” – on earth like in heaven. “perdonamos nuestros deudores” – forgive our debts. “líbranos del malo” - Yes, deliver us from evil! That is the Lord’s Prayer. But where are the rosaries? As I searched the crowd, once again they took to the aisles and presented their flowers as they rounded home base. Who needs beads when you can play ring around the rosary! I like this Church.