I just got back from a very interesting 3 day trip with Padre Gloden. On Saturday we drove to the ‘Casa de Retiros de La Majada’ where we spent both nights. La Majada is a catholic retreat house located in a mountain amongst coffee fields overlooking Sonsonate. It includes many smaller buildings, where people can stay over night while attending seminars or other activities, as well as a small Chapel and a kitchen and dining room.
It is a perfect place to relax and reflect; what it is meant for. Upon arriving I wandered through this piece of land and enjoying the silence. You felt in touch with nature. For dinner we had a traditional Salvadorian meal; beans with eggs and tortillas mainly.
The next day, after attending a mass by the Padre himself, we headed of to tour the surrounding area. Sadly the weather wasn’t great, but what I got to see was still very interesting, and to a certain degree also fascinating. People live from barely anything. Both men and woman work hard while receiving only enough money to survive the day. The worst jobs here have the coffee collectors, who spend all day collecting coffee beans in the hideous mountains where these fields are located under the heat of the sun. Once their baskets are filled they have to bring the coffee to collection points, often many kilometers away.
Only a few days ago, on the same road we were took from Santa Ana to La Majada, a coffee transporters brakes failed as he was heading downhill for a sharp turn. 3 people died and 4 more were injured. Security on the road is one of the main issues facing this country after criminality. The roads themselves have holes in them of up to 20cm in depth, and these every few meters. Even trying to bypass these is deadly.
Amongst these coffee fields that scatter the landscape are a few villages, most of the population lives within these fields. The sides of the roads are scattered with small huts build from dirt, wood or aluminum parts. At very dangerous locations, not only due to crime, but also because of the danger of the cars passing by, these people live their lives.
The towns themselves are also scattered with people. The streets are filled with people selling all kinds of things, going from food to clothing and toys. These street markets are often the last resort for Salvadorians to earn money. A grand problem, as the local governments are trying to kick these people of the streets. A too easy solution for such a complex problem.
The last day, after another mass, we had a traditional breakfast; again beans, but this time with bread and jam, and then we headed for Santa Ana.
Day 14 – La Majada