With three weeks off work over Christmas and New Years, we were quick to make plans – quick plans! Over the course of three weeks we celebrated Christmas with my family, Norwegian Style. We then proceeded to hop over the pond to Canada in time for some Canadian Christmas cheers and celebrations before venturing on to some fun in the sun and reunion with friends in El Salvador.
Christmas times in Norway are rooted in traditions and nearly everybody in the country celebrate in the same ways. Little Christmas Eve (December 23rd) is often spent with family. The tree is decorated, we eat rice porridge with excessive amounts of butter, sugar, cinnamon and raisins on it, the kids are excited for the big day to come and the adults stay up to watch Dinner For One from 1963. It has been sent on Norwegian tv since 1980. Weird, yes! Funny, yes! The following day is the main day of celebrations in Norway. On Christmas Eve we get outside, play with the kids, go to the grave yards in memory of lost ones with wreaths, and later get dressed up. A lucky few have been fortunate to spend the day cooking. Most people have either steamed lamb ribs, pork ribs, cod or lutefisk for dinner, depending on where in the country one is from. My dad is from the west coast, so we eat lamb ribs. After dinner and dessert, someone leaves the room (this year it was me!) and out of nowhere Santa arrives! Gifts are opened and we all have a jolly good time. Santa in Norway is often believed to live in the barn at a farm. He dresses modestly in knitted sweaters and usually has a beard. This year, the beard caused some problems as we could not find one and the shops were sold out. Creativity came in handy and we rolled out some cotton for the same effect. Might not look too convincing to the adult audience, but the kids did not ask any questions.
The best Christmas calendar I ever received, finished on Christmas Eve with the last of 24 compliments given by my loved one. That is one way for a girl to feel great all through December!
On the morning of the 25th we were driven to the Oslo airport, ready for our quickest visit to Canada ever. We had three days to do it all. Two days in Edmonton and one day in Calgary, ba-da-bing-ba-da-boom. We had a fantastic time with our family and friends. Highlights included Alberta beef at Kyler’s dad’s, Alberta beef at The Keg with 16 friends and a three hour car ride on the world’s straightest road catching up with Kyler’s mom, Kyler’s brother and his wonderful girlfriend. It went by so quickly and ended up being a bit of a tease, so next time to Canada will be with some more time.
Thereafter, the plan was to go to El Salvador with only a quick stopover in Houston. Unfortunately, there was a problem! A volcano had erupted just outside of San Salvador and the airspace had been closed. The airline told us to come back the next day at 3 pm. Since the cancellation was due to a natural disaster, there was nothing more they could do. We considered just staying at the airport, but with no obvious area to make ourselves comfortable, 20 hours to wait and a good deal on a hotel in hand, we decided on the latter. Vending machines only get you so far..
Well rested and ready for action, we finally got on the plane to El Salvador the next day. On our previous trips to Central America, we have always driven the entire way there. Suddenly flying in from one country to the other seemed so strange. The contrasts in climate, culture and tempo seemed more apparent than ever. Not at all in a bad way, just in a very different way from the gradual travel we have done before. Stepping in to Mopelia, our home in El Salvador, seemed just as natural as before. Because of our delay in Houston, we missed out on the Mopelia Mini Ping Pong Tournament, but it did not dampen our mood!
Before we left Norway, we bought and wrapped up 9 Norwegian beers for the first ever Norwegian beer tasting in El Salvador. All were impressed with the quality (we did not bring Ringnes..) and that means a lot coming from these guys! Diego and Vitalis, Gilles and Patty’s sons had fun with the bubble wrap. Diego even made himself a little bubble suit with bubble shoes to match. Priceless!
The beach was populated with San Salvadorians on holiday. The weather was great and the sun was shining. Beach life in El Tunco was just like we remembered. – Fun, warm, entertaining and energizing!
On our last day in El Salvador, we went to La Libertad located just a little further down the coast. Gilles and Patty took an afternoon off work at Mopelia for the trip. Our Canadian friends Mike and Sabina were there and so was great Brent from Alaska! Along with many happy El Salvadorian families and mariachi bands we had a delicious seafood and fish lunch on the malecon. After lunch, we visited the fish market and had scoop ice cream dipped in chocolate on the main square. Oh, what a fantastic turbo holiday we had!