Chirilagua is a city in the department of San Miguel – a south-eastern region of El Salvador.
Chirilagua is also the nickname of a city in the state of Virginia in the United States.
How did this happen?
Apparently so many inhabitants of the original city in El Salvador immigrated to this area between Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia, (which has also been nicknamed “Arlandia”), that it became known as Chirilagua. I drove through recently to check it out. The area seems to be a few blocks of mixed residential and business. A few of the businesses even had “Chirilagua” in their name: Chirilagua Unisex Hair Salon, Chirilgua Arlandia Apartments, and Chirilagua Pollo & Steak.
It seemed like every single person on the street was Salvadoran – Salvadorans running errands, Salvadorans walking with a baby in a stroller, and many Salvadorans sitting outside talking on patios, balconies, steps, and street corners. (This is something I like to see since most of gringo suburbia stays indoors.)
As I looked at all these Chirilguans and descendents of Chirilguans, I began to wonder how many years ago the first one set out for the United States and settled here? Maybe fleeing the civil war during the 1980′s, he decided to immigrate here. He chose Washington D.C., the nation’s capital but finds a house to rent not too far away in Virginia. Once he finds work, he calls home to his brother and tells him to come. His brother comes, and calls home to tell their cousin what a great place it is. Pretty soon, dozens of family members have come, word spreads, and little by little, thousands from this same town almost two thousand miles away, make their way here.
Who knows how it really happened, but it’s fun to imagine.