Saturday, May 7, 2011

Off the Beaten Path: Kidnapped for Fun

One day, a few of the female leaders of the Salvadoran Lutheran Church and their one male accomplice kidnapped me and took me up the side of the volcano. I had been working pretty hard for a couple of weeks, and so had they, and it was so very hot in the city. The ladies had hatched a plan and easily convinced a certain friendly pastor to be their driver, and so one afternoon we found ourselves driving up the side of El Boqueron.

The air got cooler and cooler as we went up and up. We laughed and told stories and admired the scenery along the way. We turned off at Cafe Miranda. "Hey, I always wanted to go here!" I said.

It's true. I had been up to the park at the top of El Boqueron several times, and en route had passed by the signs for Cafe Miranda, rumored to be a beautiful place, but the signs always had said "closed." The kidnapping day was my lucky day!

We stepped out of the car into the cool and breezy air. In front of us lay a beautiful complex of white buildings and gardens. We walked through a courtyard and into a a large building, one of the original coffee plantation structures which has been converted into a coffee museum. The first room was the original kitchen where the food was prepared for all of the plantation workers. Two long rows of grinding stones stand where women once ground corn to make giant tortillas known as "chengas." In the center of the room is the large oven where comals or cooking griddles once held the tortillas. One end of the room has big pots used for cooking beans. Each day the workers would each typically receive a chenga with a scoop of beans and some salt. The other museum rooms contain artifacts from the oldest coffee plantation in El Salvador, including equipment from the early 1900's.

After poking around a bit and reading the signs (available in English), we went out onto the terrace to enjoy the afternoon breeze and the beautiful scenery. We ordered wonderful iced coffees (with bunches of whipped cream!) and an assortment of delicious appetizers. The fried yucca was amazing, as were the mini-pupusas. As the afternoon turned cooler, we ordered hot chocolate and talked about our dreams for the future of our churches. We lingered until the sun lowered in the sky and we became too chilly. On our way out, we noticed that the compound includes small cabins where guests can stay. Some day, this would be a lovely place for a small delegation to stay or for a little retreat. It had been a beautiful afternoon, the best "kidnap" I have ever had.

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