A change in life

Chapter 4… Baptizing the celebrities


Solitude Ometepe, Rivas, Nicaragua
Solitude
Ometepe, Rivas, Nicaragua

     Grandfather was about to become twelve years old, and in those days, he was considered young but of age. As it happened, don Ernesto, his grandfather on the maternal side, was not growing any younger, and, more to the point, his health was slowly failing. For that reason, and against his wishes, his father decided to leave their lovely colonial house in Chinandega, the home where Grandfather was born and raised, and to move out to León, one of the oldest and largest cities in the country.


     His father had agreed to manage the various plantations belonging to his wife’s family near León. Relocating to the former capital would change their lives, drastically and in many ways. It would also place an additional strain on his father’s already busy days; for together with his brothers, they already had their hands full, overseeing their own peanut and sugar plantations close by Chinandega. As a result, Grandfather, the eldest son, was recruited into the lot of new chores and duties to look after, but he didn’t mind and never complained.


     It was precisely Grandfather who explained why they had moved to León, “…as my daddy’s father-in-law was growing older (your great-grandfather, Ernesto García), it seemed that his interest gradually changed from taking care of the cotton crops, towards taking care of another bottle of rum, which he stored and hoarded with utmost care, in that wine cellar of his, below the manor, in a seemingly endless supply. Now, I love my rum as much as anyone else; I´ve found it’s good for the stomach, especially with your grandma’s spicy cooking, and it’s good for the soul; but I’m sorry to say, as my dear old Gramps grew older, sadly, the old man began to drink his days away.” Anyway, that’s how Grandfather arrived to stay in León, and there he lived, quite happily, until the end of his days.

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A grandmother called Ines

The weekend niece. from the book, Searching for treasures


Facades Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia
Facades
Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia

     In that easy-going city of abrupt ups and downs of its flagstone streets and its many-colored houses scattered among its hills, lived Inés, her maternal grandmother, who affectionately awaited her arrival. If on that particular weekend, it was her turn to spend it with her grandparents, she would take the small bus from San Gil to Barichara and arrive in another additional hour. There, it was just a short walk to her grandparent’s small coffee plantation. She would return Mondays, before dawn, settled into her seat, with her schoolbag converted into her pillow and her head resting upon it as she slept profoundly.

     Her grandmother Ines was, indeed, a very well-loved person in little Dora’s life. She understood her perfectly well and knew how to treat her as an individual. Never like a child, nor as a grownup, just like another person, always affectionate and with respect. Always cheerful and loving, her grandmother had gone through difficult times in her youth. She knew pain and sorrow, having experienced it personally, and was therefore perfectly capable of recognizing it in others. And, during that time, Dora was going through the irreparable loss of her mother, with whom she had kept such a close relationship ion those few years that barely had to share together. Ines, her grandmother, was that balsam of affection that together with time began to heal the tender girl’s unfortunate childhood.


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Working for the first time

Chapter 4… Baptizing the celebrities


The beach Moyagalpa, Rivas, Nicaragua
The beach
Moyagalpa, Rivas, Nicaragua

     They say that a man is as tall as the heights that his imagination dares to soar. With the tales and the yarns that he so enjoyed to spin, my dearest grandfather, surely must have reached the heavens, where he would likely be sitting comfortably on a cotton cloud, right beside the Virgin of the Throne. If she lets him have his way, he would assuredly convince her that the twenty day festivities during December are held in remembrance of his baptism and in his honor.

     “Tread slowly and tread carefully my friends! When ultimately the rumors finally reached the Blessed and Chaste ears of the Bishop, he came up with a brilliant idea. He ordered the priest repeat it every following year. I’m talking about rising early in the morning and his working up a sweat, cleaning all that silver. Apparently the Old Fox, my mistake, the Bishop, greatly enjoyed this, for he and that little priest just didn’t get along, you know…
“Anyway he was ordered to do this in commemoration of that grand occasion. Yes, I should pretend to be a bit more modest; but it’s understood that my baptism was a major historic event. This time I’m speaking of commemorating, that first one and only time, that anybody, yes anybody in the world had actually seen… padre José working in his whole, useless life.


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Little Dora

The weekend niece. from the book, Searching for treasures


Bicycle Guatape, Antioquia. Colombia
Bicycle
Guatape, Antioquia. Colombia

Dora was to be the first to adventure down those paths that led to discovering new, forbidden experiences. Since she was a child, she was daring and the architect of the escapes among the three inseparable friends. Dora acted out her role as the intellectual author of their mischief, Juanita performed as the leader of the group; she’d ensure their actual implementation. And the last of the three, Lina Marcela, happy and carefree was the one to enjoy them!

Because of her mother’s death and since she was very young, for various years, Dora had been sent to San Gil, a small city, and to Barichara, a small, quaint village, both in the Santander Department, in the north of the country. During the weekends and the holidays also, she would alternate between both of these two places. Her grandparents lived in Barichara and her maternal grandmother in San Gil City. Upon her mother’s death, her father fell into a deep melancholy, without end in sight. Desperately he sought refuge from his loss, burying himself in his work, and forgetting about himself, his daughter and the rest of the world.


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Preparing Grandfather’s batism

Chapter 4… Baptizing the celebrities


Still life Ometepe Island, Rivas, Nicaragua
Still life
Ometepe Island, Rivas, Nicaragua

All in all, and be it as it may, as far as Grandfather is concerned, history depends on the historian that’s making up the story at the moment. When for whatever reason, the subject changed to his early childhood, his traits as a historian would assuredly rise to the occasion, his eyes twinkling as he warmed up to one of his favorite topics. His smile would give way to his mischievous grin, the prelude that signals the birth of one of his forthcoming pranks. Like the proverbial cat and the mouse, he’d seize the opportunity to unveil the circumstances of his baptism, narrating his own extremely personal version of the events…

“The question that begs to be addressed is where he got that amount of ashes to clean the silver. You don’t go to the store and buy them by the pound. So I’ll let you in on a little secret. Those ashes that he used to clean the silver, they came from the Cuban cigars that he loved to smoke; he collected the ashes, as he was cheerfully drinking the nights away. And he had the best rum in town to do it. I have to admit, he had the good stuff. I should know, for it came from my uncle’s sugar mills; my uncle only gave him the best. It was quality, like the Guatemalans love to say. But, the truth of the matter is, he never used it to clean silver, no sir, thank you very much. It would have been a waste! He drank the good stuff to calm his nerves; naturally, they were on the edge, because of the attention he knew he’d receive, when the time came to baptize me. As for the alcohol he used to clean the silver, he bought it by the gallon from the druggist, a block from the church.

“Well, there’s that bit of gossip, good juicy tidbits of gossip that began to circulate among the townsfolk. It went round like wild fire, from mouth to mouth. Of course, people started to gather, a busybody here and another one there. You might have thought they were only a sad bunch of curious onlookers, with nothing better to do; but also, you have to understand, just how unbelievable it was to even try and imagine that good for nothing padre José, out of bed early in the morning… Sure enough, pretty soon a huge crowd had gathered surrounding the priest. Their mind had been blown to smithereens, amazed to see the guy actually working for a change. Simply, nobody had ever seen him do it before, not for the life of him, not even by mistake! As the Colombian that owned the bakery in Sutiapa used to say: not even for the berraco, whatever he meant by that!


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