Do You See What I See?

Look what knocked on my door today.  6 weeks to the day it was loaded on the flatbed and delivered to the port in Baltimore.  Where, despite it being picked up two weeks after our pack-out, managed to arrive here in San Salvador, two weeks before our belongings.

With a scent to end all scents.

But I'm not complaining (too much).  Because I have my 'Land Yacht' back ... and the biggest car on the road here wins.


Getting Back Into The Swing Of Things

Riley and Matt played in a softball game at the Embassy today.  For 'Team Gringo'.  Against San Salvador's 'Team LGBT'.  She was the only kid out there, and she managed to hold her own.

Even cooler was when they allowed Grady to be the lead batter (he hit a foul ball) and that the Ambassador came to watch the game to show her support the LGBT community and pose for pictures afterwards.  Not too shabby, eh?


Road Trip!!

We hopped into an Embassy bus yesterday with 15 people and caravanned with six other cars on our first road trip to Lake Coatepeque, a volcanic lake situated in a crater, about an hour outside of San Salvador. 

Several families got together and rented the house for the night (something we'll definitely do in the future), while the rest of us tagged along to hang out at the lake or swim in the pool for the day. 

The day was filled with food, cocktails and meeting new friends.  We spent most of our time at the end of the dock, relaxing in the lake, enjoying the beautiful lush surroundings, and playing games in the water.  After just enough sun and chips, we began the drive home mere minutes before the nightly torrential rainstorms.  Grady annoyed entertained everyone with his endless questions and games and earned his new nickname, "Cowboy Master"... right before he fell asleep on one of our new dad-friends.

I think we're gonna like it here.


Bienvenidos a El Salvador!

It wasn't the prettiest of arrivals ... with no van driver readily available from the hotel to take us to the airport, needing every available minute at the airport to get to our gate just prior to take-off, and our bags being the VERY LAST ones off the baggage carousel (causing MAJOR heart palpitations after what happened in India).  But we made it.  Relatively unscathed.  And we've now had a week to settle in.

My first impressions ... .

Learning Spanish is a necessity.  Sadly, my three years of high school Spanish did not help me much when the gardener asked me for garbage bags and I gave him a glass of water. 

Starbucks tastes the same here as in the States.  However, my triple grande Caramel Macchiato seemed to also come with a two-pump shot of Dulcolax, which left me a "new woman" an hour later.  Unfortunately this happened when I was in aisle 9 at the Super Selectos grocery store ...

Driving here is a free-for-all and traffic lights, lanes and stop signs are merely a suggestion.  We also live near a rather notorious 4-way Stop Go, lovingly referred to as the Headless Chicken Intersection ... so that's always fun.

As with most developing nations, everything here takes three times as long to get accomplished.  It took me three attempts to get a suitable rental car for us to use until our car arrives.  The cable installers showed up three hours late.  And it appears it will take a third attempt to actually get a SIM card for my cell phone. 

Despite all of this, we are adapting quite well to our new home.  Speaking of home, our house is gorgeous.  About 3000+ square feet of white marbled floors, a 15' domed master bedroom, huge American style kitchen, an intricate frescoed grand entrance, 3-car garage, and an patio and garden complete with ivy covered walls inside and out.  Pictures forthcoming when we finally get our household effects.

The kids are enrolled in their new school and excited to start in two 'not-so-short' weeks.  They have placement testing next Tuesday and by Thursday should have a closet full of school uniforms.

We've spent a lot of time at the Embassy and Embassy pool this week, attended two dinner parties, shopped at Wal*Mart and PriceSmart (a virtual Costco equivalent).  We've taken then kids out to dinner a few times, completely unpacked and organized our meager belongings, added a second router downstairs so we could use wifi throughout this entire concrete home, and tomorrow are heading to the lake to enjoy the day with new friends.

All in all we are wicked excited to begin our new adventures here in El Salvador.  Together as a family.  So stay tuned ... the stories are just beginning. 


Pass The Tissues

The tears.  They just keep falling.  And the ugly cry?  With the runny nose and the big heaving sobs?   Oh yes.  We Perl Girls have no problem showing our emotional side.

I hate goodbyes.  It's one of my least favorite things in this Foreign Service lifestyle.  Especially here in the States where many of our friends are living in their forever homes, and our short Stateside tour near them is on borrowed time.

In less than 6 hours we will be on a plane to El Salvador.  The culmination of 18 months of planning coming to an abrupt end in far fewer hours than a 5-year old child's attempt at a good night sleep.  As much as we are all looking forward to our new adventures, these past 24 hours with so many of our nearest and dearest friends have reminded us how lucky we have truly been. 

From a rockin' dinner and sleepover with Riley's bestest friends and their families, to a friend who opened her house while she was out of town for me to do our stinky camp laundry, to endless friends stopping by our hotel to give us hugs and wish us well, to an angel of a girlie who helped me deliver Matt's car to its new owner and pack several bags while I laid on the floor for 2 hours with a splitting headache, to our last supper with Grady's group of preschool friends and their families who have become my dearest circle of girlfriends. 

Despite being ready to go for so very long, it is always hard to leave.  Especially when you see your daughters' fiercely hug their besties goodbye while the tears of love and friendship, sadness and apprehension fall from their cheeks.  There is no way to adequately describe the roller coaster of emotions we are all feeling tonight. 

Thankfully this isn't goodbye.  Only until we meet again ...


This ...

... THIS makes my waiting ... my anxiousness ... my loneliness worth it.

The smiles on their faces.  The pure joy.  The unabashed exuberance visible in every picture of them I see. 

As we prepare to take them away once again from a house they called home, a community in which they were entwined, and friends who were like family.  The one constant they have is this.

Memories for them that will last a lifetime.  Or at least until next summer.

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