After much planning, Uncles Jim and Tim finally made it here to see El Salvador and meet Luca. Unfortunately, we left DC so soon after Luca arrived, they, like many, never had a chance to meet the big man. With persistence, however, we finally found a window that worked.
And not a moment too soon. The COVID-19 outbreak wreaked havoc on their visit as El Salvador weighed its options, particularly concerning border closures, which included the airport. Only a few short hours after our guests arrived, the government closed the airport to incoming traffic, trying to stem the potential influx of infected passenger, be they Salvadoran or just transiting travelers. In the days that followed, we monitored the news closely – Ray Ray especially given that the health sector is part of her work portfolio – to ensure Jim and Tim would be able to leave. They had an onward destination to visit. Friends before returning to the US. To say we were a little on edge would be an understatement.
Fortunately, our guests did not have to curtail their time with us. Although we watched the news with bated breath as to whether or not airport departures would also be cancelled, we introduced our guests to our local group of friends, and arranged for them to see parts of the city while we saw to our respective jobs. Their adventure included sampling pupusas and other Salvadoran fare some of it while taking in the views of the city from a restaurant atop a volcano overlooking San Salvador. We also had a chance to venture further in country and visit a coffee plantation in the town of Ataco to see how one of the country's chief agricultural products goes from seed to market. Of course, a trip to Beto’s was in order to tie things off. Another triumph by the sea!
For me, this was an extra special visit. Uncle Jim has been a huge part of my life ever since I left home for college in the Midwest. After graduation I moved to Chicago, a place he called home for almost his entire life. He was as much, maybe more, of an influence on me as the city itself. To have him visit with us while we're overseas, and to meet another member in this next generation of our family was special.
And as Uncle Jim taught me (though he hasn't been the only one), timing is everything. Lockdown and Stay At Home orders seem imminent. As much as they enjoyed playing with Luca, near-house arrest conditions would have been no way to spend a vacation.