i arrive at el corbano (about 10 minutes off the main road) to find a completely locked up chapel. "what the heck," (or words to that effect) i say to the kids on the other motorcycle. so, we drive about 3 minutes to the end of the community and find this:
notice the light fixtures (they're about 10 years from having power, but you gotta love the optimism)...also witnessed a fight between two guinea hens - those guys really go at it. it was a natural fight, not spurred on by any human desire for riches...
i must say, the bishop of san juan, jose grullon estrella, a diminutive (even more-so than i) priest of 35+ years , possesses the magnanimity of a saint. he visits every parish in his diocese twice a year - once for the patronal feast, and once for at least 5 days to visit every district within every parish to say Mass, hear confessions, celebrate weddings, and confirm the young and old, distribute first communion, and meet with the leaders of the community.
we worked the schedule out to basically cover two districts per day. i would arrive in advance to hear confessions and prepare the people. one time, after i had been hearing confessions for an hour and a half, he drove up, saw the line, grabbed two chairs and said to me, "bishops need to hear confessions too."
he never tired, although i think he has learned how to nap mounted on a mule...he never complained - even after having eaten yuca too often, tramping through mud, having people argue with him, broken trucks, lost luggage, unprepared confirmandi. he always responded with a smile or a joke or a blessing. all told, a remarkable bishop.
Masses: 2 totalling 3 hours
Confessions: who knows how many totalling 3 hours
that's right, a 5 sacrament day. i'm bushed - that doesn't include all the driving and the meetings. at least i only have 2.5 days til the schedule reverts to semi-normal with the departure of the bishop...
tara, annie, and i left pedro santana after the bishop and the nuns on wed afternoon, with the intention of arricing at la pena and then walking the 2 hours to guayuyal to make it before nightfall. unfortunately, it was raining on the way, and the truck, with it's bald tires, couldn't get up the last bit of steep hill. i avoided sliding the truck off the side of the mountain, but just barely. so there we were, stuck and late when another truck shows up and i guy jumps out and says that he works on the road all the time and can get us up. i hop on the tailgate and he starts fishtailing the truck - about 50 feet later we start sliding backwards and he brings it to a halt and declares it impossible. so, we get on the radio and call ahead to the bishop's vehicle, which had been waiting in la pena. he sends it back to us and he takes off to guayuyal. when the bishops suv arrives, we tied a rope to the back and it hoisted us up the hill. we then headed off to our desitination of foot, with one mule to carry the load. as we descended to the river we realized that we would have to travel up muddy, slippery, trecherous mule trails in the dark...thankfully the moon was full and provided a light, since in my haste i left my flashlight in the car...
when we awoke the plan was to hike 6 hours, say Mass and have the "meeting" then hike 6 more...dumbest plan i've ever heard. but the views were spectacular, as you can see from the following pictures:
on the way to sierracita, we stopped in the along the river and i took this picture of the bishop, myself, the two nuns, and the seminarian who accompanies the bishop:
when we finally got to the place where we were sleeping we realized that the bags hadn't made it down - so that left no food or bedding...we sent two guys off on mules in the dark, and they miraculously returned in 4 hours with the goods...other than that the trip was rather uneventful, except for the time sister fell off the mule - she forced me to give her my backpack and i took out the camera to take a picture and 30 seconds later i hear this crash and ran over to see her on her back like a turtle, and her only comment was "it's a good thing i had this backpack on, it saved me."