They killed the missionaries…

mission mountains

This is the beautiful mission church of San Jose del Cabo. In this shot you can just see the granitic hills in the background some of which form strange conical shapes. The estuary leading to the sea is to the right and south which gives it that beautiful light. It is a small town with a few very good art galleries in the center. Every Thursday evening there is a art walk with other vendors – the galleries offer drinks and snacks. The original mission church was falling down – it was built in the early 1700s so they rebuilt it in 1972 and made a beautiful job of it.

I had a lovely moment when I went into the church to light a candle for my mum. Unlike most tourists I changed into some conservative clothes so as not to offend the locals. The tour book said that you might get some male attention if a solo female but nothing untoward should happen. I had the usual exorcist heads (swiveling inhumanly to get a better look at my ass) from drivers, when wearing shorts, but that happens in Houston too.

I was disappointed that you had to bring your own candle with you to light – I had noticed them for sale in the local shop but put money in the box and said a prayer anyway. As I exited the church, a yellow butterfly landed on my shoulder and my husband said, “That was your mum telling you not to worry about the candle”. I can feel tears welling up now as I think about that beautiful moment.

I suppose you still want to know about the missionaries? The mission party stuck their nose in the lives of the local native people who lived on the Baja peninsula and dared to tell them that they could only have one wife… They were a feisty tribe and promptly killed not one but two interfering priests. Quite right too – they were conquistadors looking for gold and riches. This amazing tile above the church commemorates the murder.

mission tile

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Kerry and the Missionary

Kerry aged 18 snuggling with the beleaguered boyfriend

Kerry aged 18 snuggling with the beleaguered boyfriend


The title of this anecdote is suggestive, as is the tale… When I was 19, I was very annoyed with my first serious boyfriend. He had asked me to marry him and I accepted but I am not sure we were really engaged; just young and in love. It was a tumultuous relationship, mostly because of my bad behavior. On this occasion, he had to study for his architecture exams and he suggested that if I stay at home all weekend he would visit if he got an opportunity (we had no telephone). I was incensed at the idea that I was at his beck and call, so packed my rucksack and went off alone for the weekend, youth hostelling at Loch Lomond. My mother was given instructions to tell him exactly where I was. We had recently got back together and one of the conditions was that I remain faithful. As soon as he said it and I agreed, I knew that it was a lie.

I got on the train to Balloch and hiked the 5 miles along the loch side to get to the youth hostel. It was spring so it was almost full. Girls and boys had separate dormitories and I was sharing my room with a group of people who had Down’s syndrome, including the little girl in the bunk above mine. She was a Chatty Cathy and I had great fun with her. In the kitchen area I spotted a group of young men and women and heard their American accents. I got chatting to them and the leader of the group was a handsome young man in his early 20s. They were a Protestant Missionary group traveling through the UK. I was a little perplexed because I had been brought up in a strict Roman Catholic family and two cousins were missionaries with the White Fathers in Africa. Were they trying to convert us? The Leader, let’s call him Joel, because I can’t remember his name, was fascinated by my history (an American brought up in Scotland) and frankly, obviously fancied me.

Perhaps sensing the predatory danger of a young cougar, he told me that the all the members of the group remained celibate until they married (and that included kissing). Surely he noticed my pupils dilate with the anticipation of the hunt? He asked me what I was going to do that evening and I told him I was going to walk a mile or two to the lovely bar/restaurant/dance hall on the shores of the loch. Despite the narrowed eyes of the female members of his group, he insisted that he should accompany me because it was pitch dark and potentially dangerous for me to go alone. Who is the cougar in this tale? I politely acquiesced, so I didn’t embarrass my chivalrous Lancelot. As we walked to the bar, he told me that he didn’t drink alcohol either. When we got there, I ordered a whiskey and he asked if he could taste it, “Sure”, said I. Several whiskies later we were up dancing various Scottish dances. I should have felt guilty about leading him astray but he was having a wonderful time. Finally, we had to head up to the hostel before they locked the doors.

It was a beautiful, moonlit night and you could see the Orion constellation above us. Suddenly, he grabbed me and kissed me very passionately. He kept saying that he shouldn’t be doing this but that didn’t stop him. We stumbled and laughed all the way up to the door where the Warden was waiting to lock up. Halfway up the baronial stairs (the hostel had previously been a stately home), he kissed me again before he went to the boy’s dormitory. Lights were out in the girl’s dormitory but the little girl with Down’s syndrome must have been out in the hallway as we came up the stairs. She asked, “Is he your boyfriend?” “No, go to sleep”, I replied. “Why were you kissing him, then?” Fortunately, one of her group leaders told us all to be quiet and the inquisition stopped.

The next morning I woke up with a whiskey hangover, feeling guilty about seducing the missionary and being unfaithful, yet again. Sheepishly, I went down to breakfast and bid good morning to my lover and his missionary group. The girls glared at me and he looked guilty. Only he and I knew what had happened, however, so it was going to stay a secret. Until, that is…my little bunkmate came down for breakfast and announced to the whole room that she saw Joel and I kissing on the stairs last night. I blushed furiously, as did he, and I made a very swift exit. In those days you had to share the chores of cleaning the hostel so I did something suitably penitential like cleaning the toilets before hiking down the road home.

I shared all my stories with my hip, single mum and she was delighted with how naughty I had been. She was suffering from Schadenfreude because she didn’t like my architect boyfriend. Inevitably, our relationship fizzled out some months later and he never knew about my American Missionary (unless he is reading this now and will realize what a lucky escape he had). Every so often I think about Joel the Missionary and I hope he enjoyed his fun dalliance in the moonlight before he married a much more suitable lady. Just in case the Missionary is reading this, “Hey Joel, if you have a Mega Church now and are really rich, click the follow button”.