Archive for the ‘mi madre’ Category

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.

I decided to participate in a meme where you post your cell phone photos on Tuesdays because it will be an easy way to practice taking pictures and sharing them. Here we go.

We went walking this weekend on this old railroad bridge over the Potomac River.

Of course we had to do our weekly shopping. We shop at Wally World because as Tracy says, “We’re poor.” Here are some nice patriotic shirts.

But…

Like me, they were made in El Salvador.

We also stopped at a car dealership because a car caught my eye driving by.

While Tracy was off looking at a Camaro, I was looking at this one. My mother peeked in the window of the car and complained that it only seats two.

I will always love El Salvador, but the longer I live here in the United States, the more I realize that some of the cultural beliefs I was raised with limit me.

Today my wife offered to teach me how to make tostones. Since I’m trying to be more open-minded about trying new things, I tied on an apron. While we were cooking, my mother came home from a friend’s birthday party. As usual she forgot her key and started ringing the door bell like crazy. I came to the door and opened it. My mother, seeing me in an apron, immediately started making fun of me.

“Qué linda, Doña Carla,” she said, smirking. My wife, Tracy told her that some of the best chefs in the world are men. My mother waved her hand in the air and didn’t say anything more but I knew she didn’t like seeing me in the kitchen.

I will probably always have a more traditional view of male/female gender roles due to how I was raised, but I had a good time cooking with my wife. We worked together to create a meal. We danced to salsa while the smell of tostones filled the house. These are the kind of memories I will remember until the end of my life.

Tostones con mojo

(The recipe: Tostones / Mojo )
(Images – Thanks to my wife.)