In the early years, our sister church pastor would not have gone for this idea. Even 15 years into our sistering relationship he was a bit skeptical, but he was busy and we wanted to hang out and take in some everyday life, so with a little trepidation, he drove off and left us in Nejapa.
Of course, this was not the first time for my friend Deb and me to experience Nejapa. Over the years we have driven through the town center on our way to the nearby pool complex, and we often love to eat at the Pupusodromo on the edge of town. Deb and I (and a team of many) had just completed a week of holistic healing at the nearby Lutheran Church site at Fe y Esperanza.
We drove into Nejapa early that morning toUnidad de Salud (government health clinic) to express thanks to the director and all of the doctors and nurses who has assisted us during the Mission of Healing. We brought a box of medications and small equipment as a token of our gratitude and made plans to stay in touch regarding
ongoing patient care and future healing events. We are very impressed with the work this small clinic is able to do with limited resources and a very dedicated staff.
Deb and I share the same strategy when exploring: first head to the church. This is a good plan when exploring Salvadoran towns, because in typical colonial fashion, the cathedral is located on the town square, and the government offices and market are close by. We walked through the outdoor market, which is tucked into a small street next to the church Iglesia Católica San Jerónimo. We entered the church by the front doors. It was cool and beautiful, with Lenten purple banners fluttering in the soft breeze. We walked slowly, giving honor to the relics and story of this place.
The small park in front of the church holds the famous statue of a boy throwing a fireball, in honor of the traditional Bolas de Fuego Fiesta. When we had driven by in the past, I had noticed this statue, but I never noticed the other sculptures in this garden.
We headed out into the streets. People were very friendly. We visited the indoor market which was small, filled with fresh foods and the things of daily life. We wandered far enough not to get lost, and ended up back in the town square. It was fun to sit and be a part of natural life in the park. We chatted with the gardener, a seasoned grandpa who watered each row of hedges. A dad played with his little boy on the rocking horse. A group of students gathered in the gazebo. They were surprised to see two very pale ladies seated in the park, and there were a few comments about that. We walked over and greeted the students, asking if they were finished for the day or on their way to school for the afternoon. Our Spanish caught them off guard, and the girls proceeded to reprimand the boys for making remarks. We all laughed about that. We chatted for a little while and waved adios when it was time to go.
Our meanderings ended, and we walked back through the outdoor market back to PRO-VIDA where our new friend called a buddy who had a mirco and could drive us to Apopa. Our adventure in Nejapa lasted only for a morning, but we really enjoyed it!