Archive for the ‘childhood’ Category

When I lived in El Salvador I used to dream of coming to the United States because I thought life would be like what I saw in music videos. Kris Kross, M.C. Hammer, C+C Music Factory – I admired the style of the clothing and imagined the fun I would have living among such cool people. I imagined I would go to a school like Bayside High School on Saved by the Bell.

I’ve lived in the United States now for 15 years and needless to say, my life does not resemble the life of Zack Morris, but it’s okay. At least I finally understand the lyrics (sometimes) to the songs I listened to so often without comprehending any of the meaning.


I did not receive love and encouragement from my parents but that does not necessarily mean I will make the same mistake with my own children. On the contrary, I give my sons all my love and always let them know how proud I am of them.

Every child needs love and caring, but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. Unfortunately some parents are too ignorant to know what their child needs, and the problem is passed from generation to generation.

In some segments of the Latin American community, this is a real problem. Our parents believe respecting them is a priority above all else, while building a child’s self-esteem is seen as a ridiculous modern notion. Some parents put their needs above their child’s – worried only that they will be taken care of when they grow old. Some parents believe they must be first in your life, above all else – including your wife, children, or your own well being or desire for happiness.

It seems that this problem is taboo to talk about, and so nothing ever changes. If anyone suggests that maybe things shouldn’t be this way, they are called selfish, told that they are sinning and God will punish them, made to feel guilty or accused of being Americanized. (I have endured all these things.)

Hopefully things will change for future generations. At least I know that my children will never have to ask me why I didn’t love them or encourage them. My sons will never feel that I brought them into this world simply to make sure I’d have someone to take care of me.

My family and I returned from our trip to El Salvador a couple weeks ago. I am still trying to recover in various ways.

Though this was overall a happy experience which I don’t regret for a second, it did cause some confusion in me.

There were problems on the first day with my mother, which Tracy already explained on her blog. It goes without saying that this is a difficult thing for me and it’s something that will be an on-going problem. Regardless of the situation with my mother, the trip was emotional in other ways.

For the first few days I felt that I didn’t belong there – that I wasn’t Salvadoran anymore because I didn’t understand how things worked. I’ve lost some of my Salvadoran accent, and somehow, even when Tracy wasn’t with me, people seemed to treat me as a tourist.

After the first week I broke through all that. I felt like I fell into the rhythm of my country. I felt more confident in my actions. I knew where to buy what I needed at good prices and how to get there. I picked up on new slang and incorporated it into my vocabulary. I spent hours talking with my old best friend, reminiscing about old times and creating new memories – our two families together – our kids hanging out the way we hung out when we were their age. I felt proud to show my country to my children – and prouder still that they loved it.

I felt Salvadoran – not like a visitor. But with that new happiness came new problems. Now I felt as if I didn’t want to return to the United States.

Of course the day came when we had to go to the airport and get on the flight. I was surprised that Tracy and the boys were going through a similar mix of feelings. I hugged my best friend goodbye and we both pretended to be stronger than we felt. As the plane lifted off, taking me back to the land of my wife and children, back to my adopted country, back to our house and all its responsibilities, back to work and reality in general, I cried – all of us did.

Once back in the United States, I went through a period of readjustment which still isn’t quite over. Sometimes I feel depressed and nostalgic. At other times I feel thankful, blessed and guilty. I call my best friend daily. He wishes he could live in the United States – wishes he could work in a job that paid him even half of what I make per hour. He wishes he lived in a house on a quiet suburban street like I do, instead of in Soyapango where thieves have broken in and gangs have tagged his home with graffiti. He wishes his son, who is only a little older than my oldest son, had all the opportunities my kids have.

It’s difficult to feel like I belong in two places at once, but that I don’t wholly belong to either.

In two weeks we’re traveling back to El Salvador for the first time in over a decade. There are a lot of things I’ve missed. Here are some of the things I’m most looking forward to:

#5. oysters

(Image source: bocadorada)

#4. flying in an airplane

(Image source: treehead)

#3. my childhood home

(Image source: clarkefreak) - Not my actual house, but similar.

#2. street food (especially pupusas)

(Image source: ceasol)

#1. showing my boys all I can of their roots in 12 days

(Image source: damejiar)


Posted: June 11, 2011 in childhood, El Salvador, food, memories

I made these with Tracy today.

Chocobananos remind me of El Salvador. My mother used to have them in the freezer to sell, but I would end up eating them all myself.

If you want to make some, here’s how – (very easy recipe.)



Bananas – ripe, but not too ripe, (yellow, without spots works best)
Melting chocolate – (there are special brands especially for chocobananos sold at Latino Markets.)
sticks – (you can use popsicle sticks, but the little ones sold at Latino Markets work best.)


Peel bananas and cut in half lengthwise.
Insert sticks into banana halves, about halfway through.
Place bananas on a plate in the freezer for about an hour.
Melt chocolate over medium heat.
Dip chilled bananas in chocolate. Try to cover as much of it as possible.
Place bananas back in the freezer for about an hour. (You can place them on wax paper so they’re easier to remove.)


Shoes + Mercy

Posted: May 29, 2011 in childhood, fatherhood, humor, memories

Yesterday we went to do our regular grocery shopping and on our way back home I decided to stop for gas. My little one asked if he could help me. I thought for a moment and decided it was an important thing for him to know so I said he could.

I tried to explain how to do it – how to hold the nozzle and everything, but I didn’t realize it was too heavy for him. He pointed it directly at me and gasoline went dripping onto my new shoes. (Anyone who knows me, knows I love to keep my shoes very clean.)

My little boy’s eyes looked scared in that moment and I remembered how my parents used to beat me with a belt for the smallest mistakes.

I told my son it was okay, even though I had to drive home like this:


Posted: May 17, 2011 in childhood, El Salvador, memories, personal

Felipé (left), me (right)

This is a photo of my childhood friend Felipé and I when we went to visit his father’s pharmacy. We spent a lot time playing soccer and just being children – not worrying too much about the future.

When we were about 12, his girlfriend, Marí, started flirting with me and we got into an argument. (For the record, I didn’t even kiss her!) Things changed between us and we drifted apart. I haven’t spoken to him since I left El Salvador almost 15 years ago, but I heard he’s married, (not to Marí) – maybe with his own children now.

I wonder if he remembers me and if we’ll ever run into each other again some day.