Fútbol + Memories

Posted: June 21, 2011 in El Salvador, memories, mi gringa, personal
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It had been almost 20 years since I had seen my country’s fútbol team, La Selecta, play in person. This past Sunday, after being here in the United States all these years, I had the opportunity to see them play against Panama in a Gold Cup quarterfinal match.

Before we even went into the stadium, even in the Metro on the way to the game and the parking lot before it, I felt happy to be surrounded by so many Salvadorans.

The first game was U.S. vs. Jamaica. I sang along to the anthem of my adopted country, the homeland of my wife and my children, The Star Spangled Banner, (well, I tried but I honestly still can’t get all the words right. Do people who speak English as their first language know what “ramparts” are?) I felt proud to see other Salvadorans waving the U.S. flag and happy when the United States won.

For the second game, as I sang along to El Himno Nacional de El Salvador, I had a flood of memories. I thought back to all the games I went to in El Salvador with my friends over the years and though I felt nostalgic for my homeland, I felt happy at the same time.

We lost the game, which was disappointing, but I’m still proud of my country’s efforts, and prouder still to be part of the crowd that was lucky enough to cheer them on.

While we waited for the Metro train to go home, my wife, Tracy, interviewed me – so, I’ll share that with you.

P.S. – Tracy always taught me that if I don’t know a word, look it up. English lesson of the day from Dictionary.com:

Ramparts – a broad elevation or mound of earth raised as a fortification around a place and usually capped with a stone or earth parapet.

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Personal Finances

Posted: June 13, 2011 in gringolandia, work

Photo by Mike Schmid

It’s funny, sometimes I feel like I am not Americanized at all, and then something will happen and I’ll realize I have changed in some ways.

Today a friend of my mother’s asked me how much I paid for my car, and how much we pay per month. My mother does this too – asking how much my household bills are and what I paid for things. Likewise, my Mexican co-workers ask me how much my paycheck is on Fridays, or how much I make per hour, (the gringo co-workers never do this.) I feel that it’s very rude and nosy.

I realize this is a cultural difference. In the past, these things didn’t bother me – but over the years I’ve come to take a more “American” view of personal finances, (in that they’re called “PERSONAL” for a reason!)

I’m not sure how to handle these kinds of situations. I don’t want to be rude in return – but sometimes I feel the impulse to lie or change the subject and avoid the question somehow. Sometimes people are persistent and ask until you tell them. I don’t know how to politely let them know that it isn’t their business.

If you have been in this situation before, how did you handle it?

(Image source)

Chocobananos

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.)

CHOCOBANANOS

Ingredients:

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.)

Directions:

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.)

Enjoy!

Taco Hell

Posted: June 7, 2011 in food, gringolandia, humor, mi gringa

The other day we grocery shopping too late in the evening and I didn’t want to wait for my wife, Tracy, to cook dinner so I suggested we stop and buy something to take home.

Somehow we ended up at a Taco Bell, (or “Taco hell” as Tracy calls it), even though we haven’t eaten there for years – and with good reason – we don’t really like the food.

I pulled up to the drive-thru and, what sounded like a teenage boy, asked to take my order. I gave my order but he asked me to repeat it twice. It became apparent that he couldn’t understand my accent. Suddenly a female voice came over the speaker and asked for my order. I repeated it, and this woman seemed to understand my accent better so I was able to pull up to the window.

My wife and oldest son had been giggling almost the whole time while I tried to order, and I got kind of irritated.

“Don’t laugh at me, please,” I said, while waiting for them to hand the food to us.
“But why did you say ‘Nachos Bell Grande’ like a white person?” she asked, laughing even harder.

I didn’t realize I had, but I guess I did so the Taco Bell employees would understand me.

“I don’t like when you laugh at me,” I said, trying not to lose my temper after I paid and we were on our way home.

“I’m not laughing at you,” she said, “Don’t you realize how funny this is? You’re a native Spanish speaker from Latin America ordering fake Latin American food from gringos, and you had to mispronounce Spanish so they would understand you!”

I still don’t really understand why it was so funny. Maybe it’s American humor? … And I got sick from the Chicken Baja Gorditas. At least now I remember why I don’t like Taco Bell.

(Image source)

Family Time

Posted: June 5, 2011 in family, fatherhood

Time with the family is valuable and sometimes we don’t realize how important it is. The reality is we live in a time and in a culture here in the United States, where we don’t try to spend time with the family because we’re either focused on work, or tired from it.

When one realizes this, they must decide to change their ways, or week after week things will remain the same. Before you know it, years have gone by, your children have grown, and you’ve lost your chance to spend time with your family.

Paddle boating with the boys.

This Memorial Day I spent at my [Anglo] in-laws house. While I was there, waiting for lunch, I texted my brother-in-law, Ruben, to wish him a Happy Memorial Day. Here are our texts.

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: