The latest MPPC work team was witness to some of El Salvador’s most unique and traditional cultural activities. Like most teams, they came to spend the week building new homes. They began their trip with a typical one-day tour of San Salvador, with a special focus on Archbishop Monseñor Romero and Liberation Theology. Their second day, however, was far from typical. The team members had the chance to be honored guests at the Getsemaní community’s annual corn festival!
Corn is a historically and culturally important food in Mesoamerica. The corn-harvest traditionally occurs in August or early September, and many similar festivals are celebrated throughout the region. Getsemaní’s festival involved a formal introduction, traditional dancing by the community’s children, the crowning of the Reina del Maíz (Corn Queen) and Reina de la Escuelita (Kindergarten Queen), as well sampling of numerous traditional corn dishes.
Another highlight of the MPPC trip (aside from digging in the mud!), was the Celebración de los Farolitos (Celebration of Lights). This annual festival is held in honor of the Virgin Mary and is celebrated with the lighting of numerous candles and lamps. Downtown Ahuachapán was fully lit, and members of the MPPC team were joined by around 60 members of the Getsemaní community for a sight-seeing expedition.
Tania Meza, manager of the Strengthening the Getsemaní Community project, comments that the Celebración de los Farolitos was the most memorable moment of the trip for her and many of the Getsemaní families. She recalls telling the community’s youth to “take care of the international team,” and laughing as her orders were carried out a bit exaggeratedly. The children made a large circle around the members of MPPC team, and every time one of them would fall behind, would turn and tell them, “Hey, hurry up!” The international volunteers, of course, found their impromptu security guards’ orders to be quite amusing. The evening ended with members of the MPPC team buying ice cream for themselves and their new friends from Getsemaní.
−Habitat El Salvador Team