Every once in a while, I am reminded that this is a Catholic country. Often, the most unlikely people (e,g,, Uber drivers, landscapers, security gods), when asked how they are, respond with “Fine, thanks to god…” I often see a young man carrying a rosary or sitting with a bible at his side. My cleaning lady, who is Nicaraguan, frequently sends me lengthy text messages which mention Jesus and instruct me to pass them on. I have always been fascinated by latin America’s mix of Catholicism, which the Spanish conquistadors brought over from Europe, and such pagan, Aztec practices as celebrating Day of the Dead. (Am I being timely or what?)
So, on Saturday, I went to the mercado to check out the fresh fruits and vegetables. (Vendors bring them straight from the farm.) My neighbor invited me to join her, and I needed her help in identifying some very peculiar-looking produce. We made the tour, and, on the way back to her car, my neighbor asked me if I minded making a short stop. I, of course, agreed, and followed her around the corner to a church. I thought we were going to enter, but she took me to a spot next to the church, where I saw a monument with something inside. Closer inspection revealed a statue of the Virgin Mary.
While I waited, bags in hand, my neighbor approached the structure and began to pray. I adopted a respectful pose, and waited for her to finish. When she returned, I didn’t quite catch what she said; I think she said something about a divorce, which could have been a translation of any number of things.
And home we went, with my new mystery foods, which I promptly mixed in with my salmon dinner. I later learned that you’re supposed to wash them very carefully, since they are not checked like the items you buy in a store. I did get a slight headache, possibly unrelated, but otherwise suffered no ill consequences.
Maybe my visit to the Virgin Mary protected me. Perhaps I’ll stop by next time I shop. I’m trying to avoid the obvious “I’ll make a habit of it,” or “When in Rome,” but I can’t help myself. What can I say…the devil made me say it.