Castillo San Marcos

Castillo San Marcos
13th-century castle, El Puerto de Santa Maria. That WAS our house to the left and behind the tree!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Suzi Returns!

What I really wanted for Christmas was to have my sister move back and live with us again, at least until summer.  We’d gotten our visas, and the year of living together had been so—emotional—that I wanted it to continue.  Not to mention that, before she’d left last July, we’d gotten wind that this fabulous palace would be available, and that it was absolutely perfect for our two families together.

We MISS  these little guys!! Come back!  
But life has a way of making its own plans.  Once back in the States, Suzi’s book took off, Ethan found projects, the boys LOVED being back in their friendly Franklin Spanish immersion school, and…well…they came for Christmas.  Better a little than none!

Touring the Spanish side of the Base Naval Rota with our friend Ignacio and family
All together again
We threw a big zambomba before they got here; Suzi claims to be a “small party gal” now, unlike her glory days where she could light up a room of 300 partygoers.  So we invited everyone we knew to our new palace.  30 people had responded the day before the zambomba.  Oh, a small party!  I thought.  But 150 people showed up, with all sorts of fabulous food, and we laughed and ate and drank and danced until the wee hours.  The palace’s central courtyard was, again, a simply fabulous setting.

Christmas zambomba in the palace

Dancing bulerias

Tia ourclasses her mom in every way

Sasha has by far the most "arte!"

Band practice after the zambomba (by popular demand)
Singing with friends

Then we had a non-stop series of events.  Cheryl, my cousin Dana’s best friend from waaaaay back, came to visit, and I whirled her around Puerto and southern Spain, even sending her off to Morocco!

Cheryl the Adventurer

Then Ebru and Greg, the heads of the base at Rota, had their Christmas party, a gold-themed shindig.  Between visitors, parties, and cleaning and organizing the house in preparation for Suzi and Ethan’s arrival, I kept myself (and the happily-retired Todd!) busy.

Gold is mandatory

And finally, they were here!  They arrived, along with the winter cold.  Our palace is a SUMMER home, mind you, and it was a trick figuring out how to heat the place.  We dragged butane heaters from room to room, sanded down doors so that they could close off rooms, and wore lots of sweaters.

Big enough for all of us!

We put all the leaves in the huge dining room table and invited friends to welcome them, and went exploring the zambombas out in town. 

Friendly welcome
Street zambomba

 They arrived right in time to practice the Christmas songs for Advent, along with my Aunt Paige and Uncle Hans and cousin Sophie from Germany.  The central courtyard was actually heatable, and the acoustics awesome.

Practice makes perfect

In the midst of this whirlwind, Christmas Eve arrived.  The kids, under Sophie’s direction, put together a corny interpretation of the equally incomprehensible Spanish villancico (Christmas song) “Los Peces en el Rio.”  The main refrain is:  “Beben y beben y vuelven a beber, los peces en el rio, a ver a Dios nacer.”   This translates to:  “They (the fish) drink and drink and drink again, to see God born.”   Go figure.

All the actors and actresses take a bow

It was awesome  to have our German family here for Christmas.  Sophie is a mix of cousin, daughter, friend, and sister, all wrapped up into one lovely bundle.  She lived with us for a year in Imperial Beach, and I’ve been extremely attached since.  The damp and humid weather in addition to the lack of heat drove my aunt and uncle to the cozy Hotel Monestario down the street, but we got Sophie!  

Father and daughter

Next on the line-up:  New Year’s.  Suzi asked for a small party, but, as parties tend to do here, it morphed into a family monster-sized event, with equal parts oldies and youngsters discoing under the palacio’s crystal dome.  Ignacio officiated during the Grape Ceremony, which was aided by the TV Ethan and Todd had strung from the ceiling. 

Ignacio officiates the countdown

Steph and Todd can still dance

Even Ethan and Ignacio dance!

Happy New Year! ¡Feliz Año!

We had a fabulous time dancing in 2015.  My only sadness: that our time together as a big ol’ family was coming to an end.  But I shouldn’t worry, they will be back for more come the end of June!!

The Queen in her palace

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