Day Two at La [very stange] Catedral De Justo

Awaking on the cold cement floor at the Catedral de Justo, I would be lying to say that I wasn't mildly excited about the prospects of the coming day's work. The cathedral has a lot that needs to be done. Could I learn some bricklaying? Perhaps smoothing out new mortar? Or maybe some tiling?
A view from the interior courtyard and Justo's homemade [painted] stained glass, the main dome of the cathedral (at the top), and the adjacent brick "towers"
Turns out that it was more of a heavy lifting day.

Angel arrived around 8:40am and offered us bread. He was a bit taken-aback at our refusal ("who doesn't eat bread for breakfast??"), and didn't offer anything else. Surprising, considering he was unaware that since he told us we'd start work at 8am, we had awakened early and already eaten a breakfast of muesli and fruit that we had brought along ourselves.

Soon after, we began pouring cement powder into buckets, and I took a moment to convince Angel that despite his difficulties in pronouncing my name (attempts which, I should say, were quite half-hearted), he couldn't simply call me Maria. Maria isn't my name. Maria isn't even my name in Spanish. He consented...with resistance.
The stairs leading down to the "crypt," and behind those an altar of sorts. The pea color? Something I can't explain.
The facade, 50 years in the making...
Perhaps Angel wasn't used to having volunteers. Perhaps when volunteers do come, they are there for day trips, as passers-by (which could explain the lack of even a cot for us to sleep on). As it was, Angel didn't seem to find the importance of actually explaining to us what we were doing. He's more of a pointing kind of guy. Bags of cement, move cement into buckets, move buckets to a pulley, pull buckets up to the second floor.

That and similar activities took up the better part of the morning. Angel had told me yesterday that he would go out today for more food, considering that the agreement for this sort of work-exchange includes room and board. He asked me if I liked chicken or pork, "Either one,"  I replied, wondering hungrily what could be in store for lunch. Grilling out, perhaps?
John stands on the second floor guiding up buckets filled with cement. You can tell he's very, very excited.
He later showed up with two small bags of crostinis and two rolled up objects. He didn't mention anything about the contents as he handed them to me from the driver's seat of his jeep, and quickly zoomed off to an undisclosed location. I assumed from the shape that they were sandwiches, and went to fetch John.

We unrolled the packages to find one filled with raw chicken fillets and one with raw pork cutlets. About three pounds of raw meat.

Hm. Were we supposed to cook this ourselves? Did he plan on eating with us as he said the day before he would? Would there be any accompaniments to the raw meat besides crostini?
One of the more surreal aspects of the cathedral were the cranes that built their nests atop the unfinished towers
There were at least six nests and every afternoon the pairs would gather to make their alien clicking sounds together
John and I waited. We caught up with him after he returned and he told us we could cook it ourselves, as he was eating elsewhere. He proceeded with helpful intentions to place a pot on the single burner in our bedroom/common area and instructionally show me how to add oil after lighting the fire.

I smiled. "I know how to cook, thank you."
When in doubt: more crane pictures
In the afternoon we moved two full pallets of lightweight bricks to an upstairs room. I asked Angel until what time volunteers usually work, and he replied, "about six pm." I laughed a little, and asked if it was ok if I stop at three to get some work done on the computer, and John, worker bee that he is, volunteered to stay on.

That night, we dined on leftover pork and chicken, bulgur, and vegetables (the latter two things we had brought along ourselves). We spiced things up with some eggs Angel had offered to us (what a gentleman!).

Going to bed with our local guard dogs roaming the grounds just outside our door (read about our first night if you want to know more about that), I wondered what I'd gotten us into.
Impressive site though it is, things get more and more peculiar as you venture inwards.

Stay tuned!

1 comment:

  1. Curioser and curioser as Alice said! And which is curioser -- the 'zoo' in the Israeli desert or this monument to -- what??? So glad you made it out in one piece, between heinous hounds, boiled chicken, barren floors, pulleys of cement...I'm ready to hear about calendar houses in Wales! Sukie xoxo




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