For the second time this year, we enjoyed an extended stay from Nonna, a.k.a. Ray Ray’s mom. Recall that she – along with her best friend, Lynn – visited us for the month of February. As it usually is with grandparents, we know who the real star of the show is. It was so in February, and it will be next month when my parents arrive just after Christmas.
This visit did not have as many weekend getaways as the first. Life was more centered here at the house. Nonna and Luca spent a lot of time playing in the backyard, and Nonna lovingly tried to shoo Ray Ray and me out of the house while she babysat. That was an especially nice treat for which we are grateful.
There were, however, two nice jaunts to different parts of the country. The first was a long weekend in the east department of San Miguel, a corner of the country that we have not explored simply for the amount of time it takes to get there. El Salvador is roughly the size of Massachusetts, however, driving from one end to the other takes twice as long in the former. This is largely a function of road capacity and traffic. Indeed, the last six miles of the drive, which was over rocky and washed out dirt roads, took nearly 20 minutes.
However, once there, our time at Los Mangos Hotel was exquisite. We had a sprawling beach to ourselves at times and spent hours at the pool overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Drinks at sunset – and well into the evening after both the sun and the son went down – were almost ritualistic.
Our other quick getaway was down to
the La Libertad region, a tourist-heavy corner of the country thanks to its surfing. At that is what Ray Ray and I decided to try. We took our first (hopefully not last) lessons while Nonna kept an eye on the Big Kahuna. We enlisted the services of instructors at Puro Surf, a local shop connected with a rather luxurious hotel and for two hours, they tried to give us the basics. Being newbies, we stayed close to shore and caught the remnants of larger waves that broke many yards before hitting us. That was about all we could handle. Even on long boards (which provide more stability and are good for the less experienced) we struggled mightily, though we did – here and there – manage to get up on two feet for the briefest of moments.
Thanksgiving provided yet another highlight of the visit. Last year, the annual November spread took place a month after our arrival. We still barely knew anyone and relied on others for things like transportation, etc. This time around we were fully ensconced. We again attended the community dinner organized by the Embassy, a potluck-style event for the lot of us that did not head home, or as I tend to call it, “Orphan Thanksgiving.” The organizers set up long tables under sprawling tents in a small parking lot and we filled it like one giant extended family. Of course, tradition being what it is, no immediate Thanksgiving experience would be complete without viewing Christmas Vacation and setting up for the holiday season. We had a chance to do both while Nonna was in town, which helped us feel not as far from home as we might otherwise might.