Tuesday, January 20, 2009

La Iglesia (church) in Turrialba

The trip from San Lorenzo to the town of Turrialba took about 6 hours, back through San Jose with a stop for lunch. The weather in San Jose was very pretty, clear and sunny which always happens on a trip. Our hotel is in the mountain, up a curvy and bumpy road. Mario our driver is an expert, quite cautious and very safe. We checked into our rooms (more about them later, or maybe not) and looked around the area. During this time I overheard one of the other women talking to Javier about the time mass was scheduled in town, 6:00. He told her that he and Mario would drop her off when they went to get gas and then she could get a cab back. But she was reluctant to go and said she would stay back at the hotel. I had thought about going to mass in San Jose next Sun., so told Mary I would go with her, so we did. We even got two other ladies to come along.
We were in town by 4:45 so had plenty of time to look around before mass began. Turrialba is a larger town for the area with a nice business district scattered around a central park. The church commands a position across from the park and the church school sits next to it, so together they take a whole block. It seems that is typical in CR. From the outside, it is a pretty church, white with high windows and doors. The escuela (school) is pink. The park was very active with families, a pony for children to ride, and skateboarders. We went into a couple mercados, saw the pananderia (bakery) with very tempting treats, and said ‘Hola’ to everyone who responded, ‘Hola’.
We entered the church around 5:30 and were impressed with its beauty. There were large baskets of fresh flowers around the altar and sides. There also were a lot of people there already which we thought unusual for a Saturday night, but also impressive. Three men and two women were setting up instruments and trying out a loud speaker system. We got a few looks, but friendly ones. The church which held at least 300 people filled up. Very impressive attendance.
After an announcement of which we caught a few words, everyone stood and faced the back of the church while the priests walked up the aisle. Then they applauded which we thought unusual, but nice. Well, to make this long story shorter, we were experiencing the installation of a new priest and assistant and the monsigneur was heading the ceremony. We then understood the flowers, attendance, music, etc. It was quite a service and, although we didn’t understand a lot of it, we had programs and even sang along. At the point of ‘la Paz’ we shook each other’s hands and the people in front of us turned around to say ‘paz’ and then people from around us came up and shook hands and hugged us, saying ‘bienvenidos’ (welcome).
Another part of the service was quite lovely. At this point all the parents took their children up on the altar to greet the monsigneur and receive a ‘beso’ (kiss). After they finished, he proceeded to start another part of the service, but one little girl walked right up to him. He looked down, stopped speaking, and bent over to kiss her on the head, without missing a beat. It was truly a highlight of the trip!

One of the ladies here mentioned that this poem was recited by Mario Cuomo at a celebration for Ed Koch. I quite like it:

Outwitted by Edwin Markham

He drew a circle that shut me out —
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!

After mass we found a cab back to the hotel, but got lost and had yet another adventure. Life in a country with a different language truly is an adventure.

Paz y amor, Netta

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