11.2 The Wrong Route
The four shifted to Hotel Calidoso on a buzzing street lined with shops. Brigida knew somebody who could help serve an important matter that Madeleine and Marina requested of personal interest. It was raining hard when they arrived and the taxi could not stop close to the entrance. There were too many vehicles parked outside the hotel front. More vehicles narrowed the lane.
Once inside, they were happy to find a decent hotel, clean room, three separate beds and shiny tiles. A huge tube light casing on the ceiling brought ample lot of light and good air-conditioning. Noises of the street cut out and Madeleine could hardly smoke without proper ventilation. The bathroom was petite but they turned only to pull the beds together.
“Oh dear!” protested Brigida, “You wish to make a lot of noise! Keep my bed separate!”
“You sleep over here,” cried Madeleine motioning with her hands to indicate that she should lie across beside the headboard.
“The wrong way!” uttered Brigida.
Soon they figured the bed lamp was out and the only light in the room was the bright tube light on the ceiling. It was very bright.
“Let’s buy drinks!” suggested Chio, “It’s still raining.”
“I am starving!” Madeleine rubbed her hand on a flat tummy.
Four went out to buy drinks; the cheap way round. Borrowed four umbrellas from the reception. There were stalls and pubs one by one on this street, even textile shops. Slippery and rough in the rain, folks still moved about with their business wearing raincoats. The sun had gone down. They bought clothes and flip-flops to wear in this weather of sun and rain that follow unpredictable change.
In the rain they entered a crowded pub to dine. Here Madeleine shocked them by the way she ate. She ate a lot. Brigida ordered four more dishes of arroz atollado rice strew sated with pork ribs and chicken breasts. Madeleine ate them all and packed for takeaway.
It was on their return to the hotel that the dude at the front desk showed a brochure saying, “A new museum instituted this month with pre-Hispanic relics made of gold, stone, ceramic, wood and shell.”
“Where?” asked Madeleine Blanche.
“At the Banco de la República.”
Marina glanced and finding something curious about it, she asked the reception clerk, “What is Calima?”
He explained, “Pre-Columbian cultures from this valley of Valle del Cauca combined; Llama, Yotoco, Sonso.”
Madeleine sighed indifferently though Marina grasped the brochure to take another look.
“Are you interested?” asked Madeleine.
“Yes,” declared Marina.
“Oh yes! Gold! You love gold!”
And that was how they ended next day at the museum at the Bank of the Republic few blocks away. They eagerly observed those gold artefacts of various shapes and idols that the archaeologists discovered of their pre-historic past.
“Aliens came down with these shapes,” whispered Madeleine, “Haven’t you figured it? They look alien.”
“What’s that?” enquired Marina.
“Ceremonial tweezers,” elucidated the docent, “Before undertaking a ritual to invoke the sacred, you must purify inside and out. He or she might purge with laxatives, take saunas or remove hair. In Calima culture, some would tweeze off their eyebrows.”
“Then you must shave,” uttered Marina to Madeleine.
“No!” cried Madeleine Blanche.
Chio prodded Brigida listening to their conversation. “You’ll have to shave this time!” she chanted.
“Why?” asked Madeleine.
“In Calima culture, you must if you will undergo a ceremony,” echoed Brigida.
“It isn’t me!” she said, “it is Mary.”
“Oh yes, you too must do.”
Madeleine blanched even to think of it.
That evening they shaved Madeleine in the intense light. Three held her pinned in bed by the skeletal limbs and while she yelled and spat, operated her like a caesarean.
“Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!” Madeleine knocked her knees, “Is this my body?”
“You look great!” said Brigida.
On 29th May, an Alto Mayo earthquake hit the northern part of Peru while they were in Colombia at Santiago de Cali.
When in Santiago de Cali, there was one important thing to do. And it was thoroughly understood on the part of both Madeleine and Marina since they left Argentina. And this was the reason why Madeleine wanted Brigida to stay and do – arrange this special function and liaise with the concerned society.
Among the most barefaced landmarks of the world, one place stood strikingly spiky and a must to visit – the church of Hermitage. La Iglesia de la Ermita del Rio located in the centre of the city on Avenida Colombia on the west side of Rio Cali; the iconic symbol of Santiago de Cali.
Four of them walked to the church on that Sunday, 2nd of June, less than a kilometre away. Madeleine and Marina holding hands by the middle fingers interlocked.
Its interior decorated of marbles from Carrara, bells from Levallois, the musical clock from Amsterdam. The communion rail, pulpit and altars were worked by the sculptor Alideo Tazzioli who sculpted the Mount Cristo Rey in the crystals.
It was unquestionably not an invention by Madeleine because she followed a different faith among the Abrahamic religions. But both could agree on one thing – Catholicism.
Madeleine whispered in Marina’s ear as soon as the sermon began, “I’m glad I did it.”
“Did what?” slurred Marina seated next on the pew.
“Good for you!”
“I actually wanted to do but all the time freaking about it…”
“Shh!” Marina released a sharp sonant.
“Sorry! You are focused! Maybe not the right time to bring it up!”
They both covered according to the etiquettes of the ministry and attended mass as invited, with Brigida and Chio. Three new-born babies were baptised during the mass session though their ceremony would begin at one in the afternoon. And not a very large audience expected.
Father Verón would become an important preacher to Mary in the years ahead. She sought light based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.
She was baptised by the pastor in full immersion with the Trinity in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.