El Salvador – The movie theater
Before we left for El Salvador I made a list of all the things I wanted to do and showed it to Carlos.
Mayan ruins? Yep.
Eat pupusas? Of course.
Go to the movie theater? … What? Why??
Because I hadn’t been to a movie theater in El Salvador, that’s why… and so we went although Carlos tried to convince me it was exactly the same as the theaters in the U.S., I knew that it wouldn’t be. It’s never exactly the same in El Salvador. Never. Ever.
Besides, our friends were on August break with nothing to do and we could take them with us. Because of the cost, they rarely go to the movie theater, so it was special to them.
First we had to decide which movie to see. I was very insistent that we see Harry Potter. We had already seen it in the United States and I thought that since the boys had seen it in English, it would be good for them to see it in Spanish. Carlos wasn’t crazy about seeing it again, and our friends hadn’t seen a single Harry Potter movie, so they would have been lost.
“He’s so cute, isn’t he?” Carlos’s friend’s wife said to me in Spanish, sighing at a movie poster for Captain America.
I crinkled my nose. “Eh, I don’t really like blonds,” I said.
“I think he’s so handsome,” she said, “I’d love to see that movie.”
That’s when I noticed our friend’s teenage son was wearing a Captain America hat. Clearly they knew which movie they wanted to see.
“Okay,” I sighed in defeat, “We’ll see Captain America.”
We went through the line and when we finally reached the cashier we had to decide whether we wanted to see the movie dubbed or with subtitles, (we chose dubbed.) Then before we could pay for our tickets we were told to pick our seats.
Huh? Pick our seats? Yeah, we’ll do that when we get in there with our popcorn and stuff.
No, you have to pick your seats now.
Our friend’s teenage son showed us the computer screen right there in front of us, where we had to pick our seats as if we were going on an airplane.
Assigned seats at the movie theater! “I told you it would be different!” I said to Carlos with glee.
The concession stand had all the usual items you’d expect but also some odd things, like chocolate cake. The ticket and concession prices were outrageous by Salvadoran standards, (just like in the United States), but comfortable for us.
Unlike the concession stands in the United States which leave you to juggle all your snacks on your own, in El Salvador they give you a very handy tray.
We found our seats and were shocked at what a beautiful, modern theater it was. These seats were hands down the most comfortable seats I had ever sat in at a movie theater. The cushions were thick and the seats reclined. The theater itself seemed brand new and really clean… Keep in mind, this theater is at Metrocentro, the “poor people mall” as I heard it called.
While we were sitting there waiting for the movie to begin, a young guy came up the aisle stairs and called out to his friend before going to the concession stand. “Qué quieres? Soda? Dulces?… Paloma?”
The guy started laughing and I did, too, although the joke was rather inappropriate to make with kids around. Luckily my kids didn’t get it. (In El Salvador, “Paloma” is slang for “penis” … and “Palomitas de maiz” means popcorn, of course. So, what he said was “What do you want? Soda? Candy?… penis/popcorn.”)
The movie, (“Capitán América”) – actually turned out to be pretty good. The audience in El Salvador tends to be more vocal than audiences in the United States. An onscreen kiss or a pretty woman entering a scene elicited a lot of appreciative hisses from the men. (In American culture, a “hiss” is considered a sound of disapproval but Salvadorans have hisses of approval, don’t ask me how, they just do.)
Then after the movie, our friends found it peculiar that we carried our own trash out to the trashcans, (nobody else did.)
All in all, a fun experience, and the best part was that the boys understood everything that happened with no need for translation.