We just wrapped up a 10-day New Year’s visit from Memé and Papa who escaped the Mid-Atlantic winter for a few days of warmth and, of course, time with the big man.
We didn’t run around too much, mostly went on quick day trips here and there. Tourism was not priority one for our guests, which is how it should be with grandparents. Ray Ray and I know our place in the pecking order.
Tongue in cheek aside, it was another wonderful visit and It was just as low-key as last year. However, this time we had a fully furnished house. Last year we were one step above the suitcases we brought with us. Luca was still sleeping in the Pack and Play next to our bed while Ray Ray and I tip toed around the room in ninja-like silence as if we were part of a nightly robbery. The irony, of course, is that the baby was the thief. His loot was our sleep.
One of the highlights of this year’s holiday visit was a day trip to see the Cathedral and the surrounding city square. We have been here for more than a year and it’s a part of town we still had not seen, save the occasional meeting where we see little more than an office. As it is with most churches anchoring a city square, the Cathedral of San Salvador is ornate in its appointments and dizzying in its size. Tragedies such as earthquakes and fires have meant the Cathedral has had multiple incarnations. Saint Oscar Romero, the Archbishop of San Salvador who was powerful critic against growing injustices in the late 1970s, is interred here. Romero was assassinated while saying Mass in 1980 and canonized in 2018 by Pope Francis.
Across the square sits the Church of the Rosary, a building occupies the site of the city’s first Cathedral brought down by an earthquake. It’s a peculiar looking building, almost like a semi-circle resting on its flat edge with elaborate stained glass windows decorating its curve in regular intervals. Despite this, the inside is quite dark, which gives the impression of being in a bunker of sorts. Everything is made of cement and metal, giving it a very elemental feel.
Other quick trips dotted the visit. We spent a day down at the beach enjoying the breezes and following Luca as he grabbed for every broom and hose he could find. He has a thing for facilities equipment that we do not understand in the least. We also had a chance to take in lunch overlooking the Pacific at Beto’s, a restaurant with astonishing views and food to match.
If Memé and Papa were happy to maximize their time with their grandson, we were happy to let them as we slipped out for New Year’s Eve. It helped us make good on an idea that, unfortunately, didn’t fully go quite as planned. A few years ago, Ray Ray thought to have a Roaring 20s New Year’s party, with everyone looking like they had just stepped out of The Great Gatsby. Once we learned we were coming to El Salvador, the idea expanded to renting a large beach house and inviting friends from around the world to don tuxes and flapper dresses and show off their individual interpretations of the Charleston.
Upon our arrival here, Ray Ray began acting like a movie location scout. “Ooh! What about that house there?” she would ask. “Ooh. Look at that one. That would be awesome for our Roaring 2020s party.” Etc. She finally found the ideal house and inquired, but, as with many beach houses here, the owner had holiday plans of their own. Sadly, the great vision never came to be. But friends here did throw a Roaring 20s-themed party and we did our best to realize the dream.
And just like that, ten days came and went. I suspect Memé and Papa, like all grandparents, could have stayed indefinitely if time and circumstance allowed. And that would have suited Luca down to the ground. He loves an audience. Where that comes from is a discussion for another time.