Ambientador

[Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. For the English translation, please scroll down. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments!]
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Real Intercontinental, San Salvador, El Salvador

Cuándo fuimos a El Salvador y nos dimos cuenta que no podíamos quedarnos en la casa de la infancia de Carlos, decidimos que necesitábamos encontrar un hotel lo más pronto posible. Fuimos al Hotel Real Intercontinental, con la intención de quedarnos sólo una noche, pero terminamos quedandonos allí todo el viaje.

“No cualquier persona se hospedan en este hotel,” decía nuestro amigo Lalo, observando todo el lujo en el lobby.

Y tenia razón. Durante nuestra estancia habia un montón de reinas internacionales de belleza riendo arriba y abajo por los pasillos, (tanto para el placer de nuestro hijo adolescente y el hijo adolescente de Lalo.) También habia un equipo de fútbol – pensamos de Puerto Rico, pero no estabamos seguros. El portero entrenó en la piscina mientras los niños estaban nadando.

Este hotel era bellisimo, limpio, y los empleados bien amables. No era barato, pero para nosotros algo económico, porque ganamos un poco más cada día en los Estados Unidos que unos salvadoreños ganan en una semana. También hicimos un buen trato con buffet de desayuno incluido. Cada mañana esperabamos con mucha anticipación los tamales de elote, frutas frescas, pupusas hechas a la orden por una muchacha con su traje típico, chorizos de Cojutepeque, frijoles molidos, huevos revueltos, quesadilla y todos los pan dulces que puedes imaginar, taza tras taza de un café perfecto – Ay! Casi lloro recordandolo y queriendolo.

Después del desayuno siempre saliamos por el día, andando en varias aventuras. En las noches nos retirabamos, agotados y polvorientos, a nuestra habitación por bañar, descansar, mirar la tele, hablar de nuestro día y finalmente, por dormir.

Una noche mientras mirabamos la tele y preparando para acostarnos, olimos humo de cigarillo saliendo de la ventilación. Humo de cigarillo es uno de los olores que no soporto. Sin ser dramática, les juro que me da ganas de vomitar.

Yo sabía que en las habitaciónes era prohibido fumar y entonces hablé a recepción para preguntar si pueden hacer algo.

“Claro que sí, Señora López. Podemos llevarle un ambientador?”

Yo acepté aunque no sabía qué era un ambientador. Después de colgar el telefono pregunté a Carlos y tampoco sabía él. Asumimos que un ambientador era un tipo de maquina para filtrar y limpiar el aire.

Al final había un “tan tan” en nuestra puerta. Fui a la puerta y la abrí.

El muchacho uniformado con una sonrisa muy agradable en su rostro, me pidió permiso por entrar en nuestra habitación para atender el problema.

“He traído el ambientador,” dijo. Le dije que por favor pase adelante y le dí las gracias por venir a nuestra habitación tan noche, a lo que respondió, “Siempre estamos a la orden, Señora López.”

Yo esperaba que él vuelva a recuperar el ambientador del pasillo, pero él ya lo tenía en mano. “Con permiso”, se disculpó y empezó a rociar Febreze por toda la habitación.

El olor a humo desapareció y nos fuimos a dormir riendo de la nueva palabra que había aprendido. Como resultado, “ambientador” significa “room spray.”

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ENGLISH TRANSLATION:

When we went to El Salvador and we realized we could not stay in Carlos’s childhood home, we decided that we needed to find a hotel as soon as possible. We went to the Hotel Real Intercontinental, with the intention of staying only one night but we ended up staying there the whole trip.

“Not just anyone stays at this hotel,” said our friend Lalo, looking around the fancy lobby.

He was right. During our stay there were a bunch of international beauty queens laughing up and down the hallways, (much to the pleasure of our teenage son and the teenage son of Lalo.) There was also a football team – we think they were from Puerto Rico, but we’re not sure. The goalkeeper trained in the pool while the kids were swimming.

This hotel was beautiful, clean, and the employees were friendly. It was not cheap, but for us somewhat more affordable, keeping in mind that the income we make each day in the United States is more than some Salvadorans earn in a week. We also got a good deal with breakfast buffet included. Every morning we anticipated the tamales de elote, fresh fruits, pupusas made to order by a girl in traditional dress, chorizos de Cojutepeque, refried beans, scrambled eggs, quesadilla and all the sweet breads you can imagine, cup after cup of perfect coffee – Ay! I almost cry remembering and wanting it.

After breakfast we always went out for the day, going on various adventures. At night we retired to the room, tired and dusty, to bathe, rest, watch TV, talk about our day and finally, sleep.

One night while watching TV and getting ready for bed, I smelled cigarette smoke coming from the air conditioning vents. Cigarette smoke is one of the odors I can not stand. Without being dramatic, I swear that it makes me want to vomit.

I knew that smoking was prohibited in the rooms so I called down to reception to ask if they could do something.

“Of course, Mrs. Lopez. We can bring you an ambientador?” he offered in Spanish.

I agreed that we’d like one, but I didn’t know what an “ambientador” was. After hanging up the phone, I asked Carlos and he didn’t know either. We assumed that an “ambientador” was some type of machine to filter and clean the air.

Soon there was a knock at our door so I went to the door and opened it.

The young uniformed man with a smile on his face asked permission to enter our room to address the problem.

“I brought the ambientador,” he said in Spanish. I told him to please come inside and thanked him for coming to our room so late, to which he replied, “We are always at your service, Mrs. Lopez.”

I expected him to turn around and retrieve the “ambientador” from the hallway, but he already had it in hand. “Excuse me,” he apologized and began to spray Febreze around the room.

The smell of smoke disappeared and we went to bed laughing at the new word we had learned. As it turns out, “ambientador” means “room spray.”

Posted on October 14, 2011, in Culture, en español, food/drink, humor, Language, Salvadoreños, Spanish Friday, travel. Bookmark the permalink. 29 Comments.

  1. I found this blog when I was looking for anything related to Capiruchos. Yes, I was born in El Salvador till I was 17. I have been reading your blog for 3 days and it makes me very happy and sad. My fiancee is asian(filipina but she really looks chinese) and she loves pupusas. Two days ago, I brought pupusas after reading your blogs(yeah you got me hungry) from one of the restaurants here in NY. She was so happy.

    Now con el espanol. Si ese hotel no es de gente pobre alla en El Salvador. Como te daras cuenta, para nosotros no es super caro pero para la gente alla si. Tu historia con tu esposo me a cautivado y es muy interesante porque algun dia yo tendre hijos con mi asiatica y los pobres seran salvadorenos y filipinos. Y sera dificil ensenarles las cosas que yo aprendi en El Salvador. Nunca he regresado. Tengo 30 anos y aunque me he re encontrado con muchos amigos via Facebook, no se si regresare. Bueno hasta pronto y sigue escribiendo.

    • Hola, and thanks for leaving a comment! I understand why my blog has brought you mixed feelings. The goal for me is to always share the happy/funny/positive things – but even those things can be bittersweet when you’re missing them. Even though it’s not my patria, writing about El Salvador brings me happiness and sadness because I love it and miss it.

      Why do you feel that when you have kids you won’t be able to pass on traditions/culture, etc. from El Salvador? I know a lot of people who have intercultural marriages with two very strong cultures and they still manage to give their children the best of both worlds. I know a Mexicana with a Filipino, a Salvadoran with a Mexican, a Cuban with a gringo, a Peruvian with a Puerto Rican, a Puerto Rican with a Trinidadian – you get the idea! … It isn’t always easy and there might be disagreements, but it’s usually a lot of fun.

      You don’t have to go back to El Salvador to give them their culture. Habla español con ellos – puro Caliche! Call them “cipotes” :) … Eat pupusas. Learn to cook other Salvadoran foods. Watch la Selecta when they play on TV, show them how to dance to cumbia music, buy them a capirucho and show them how to play, (you can buy them online!), tell them stories about La Siguanaba and Cipitio at bedtime. Read and talk about the history of the country together, show them videos of the volcanoes, y todo. Have them communicate with family members from your side of the family by phone if not in person. Maybe it isn’t as good as going there, but you are still giving them something valuable.

      If you’re able to go to El Salvador (financially and otherwise), I encourage you to go. I’ve had a few Salvadorans living in the United States read my blog and felt encouraged to return for a visit. Those E-mails always make me happy. If you’re not going because you fear the unknown or violence or anything like that – I promise you that there’s nothing to fear. If you ever want to E-mail me and chat more about it, please do.

      Also, although the hotel Real Intercontinental was amazing, you don’t have to have the money to go stay there. I’m sure you must have plenty of family that would welcome you in their home for a week or two?

      I wish you mucha suerte. Have hope. It isn’t ever too late to go back and reclaim what is yours in your heart. You have a rich history to pass on to your future children.

      PS – I’m glad your girl liked pupusas. You picked a good one! :)

      • Yeah some day. I guess I was thinking in terms of the actual “living there and growing up in El Salvador” experience.

        I will definitely keep in mind your comments and suggestions. It should be fun. They will be crazy kids because my girl has a very strong culture as well and we both enjoy sharing what each culture got to offer. Not to mention her family is huge and they are a lot of fun.

        I never went back because I was trying really hard to make it in this country. Eventually I went to Engineering school and got my MBA. Hotels are cheap over there for our standards. So yeah, at the time it was financial issues but now, it’s just fear. We travel a lot and I have been saying for a few years we would go back. But I admit it, I am scared of seeing the places where I grew up, and seeing the change.

        This blog has definitely inspire me to go down there and look again. Maybe I will do just that for my 31th birthday. Return after 14 years.

      • Ah, the “living there and growing up” there experience… That is a difficult thing for many immigrants to accept – that they can’t give that to their child.

        If it makes you feel better, I have similar feelings about not being able to give my children some of the same childhood experiences I had and I live only an hour from where I grew up. It’s not all about location. The world has just changed, know what I mean?

        On the other hand, our kids will have their own unique childhood experiences – children like ours, in bicultural homes, even more so.

        Does your wife speak Tagalog? It seems to have some similarities to Spanish. That would be fun to be in a household with both… and your children could have the opportunity to be trilingual if she speaks Tagalog, you speak Spanish and then living in the US, they’ll pick up English outside the home. That would be really awesome. (If you need guidance or advice on going about that later, http://SpanglishBaby.com is a great resource.)

        I understand that you couldn’t go back because you were trying to succeed here – and wow! Did you ever! Felicidades on your education and ambition. You should really be proud of yourself. My husband came here around your age and is now 33. He just started his first college class because he wasn’t confident enough about his English until now. (He’s doing great!)

        As for returning to El Salvador – my husband couldn’t at first because of his papers. Then he went back in 1999 with me. A few things had changed at that point, but not that much. We didn’t return again until this year for financial reasons. We felt terrible about not being able to bring the kids each year/summer like some Salvadoran American families do – but that is just beyond our budget. (If you can – that would be awesome.) … Anyway, going back in 2011 – so much had changed. It took us awhile to adjust. It was such a shock how Americanized things had become – and here we were prepared for the El Salvador of a decade ago!

        You will go through a lot of conflicting emotions while there and after leaving, but it’s worth it. I know it helped my husband to see the changes – the changes for the better, changes for the worse — he got some sort of closure, although an immigrant probably never gets complete closure. A piece of one’s heart will always be elsewhere.

        Going to El Salvador sounds like the best 31st birthday present ever. Take your girl and let her meet the tios, abuelos, etc. I don’t think you’ll regret it… And as I said, E-mail me or comment here any time if you want to chat about it, (or anything else!)

        Suerte!

      • Also, forgot to mention that I came to the U.S with a green card. Long story. And yes, the word is closure. It would be nice to have that. Thanks for your comments.

      • How fortunate (to have come with a green card.) … I like long stories if you ever feel like sharing :)

        Thank YOU for your comments. Saludos!

  2. LOL – Oh gosh…I thought it was going to be a contraption of some sort. Something you plug in like a reverse fan. Too funny!

    • I know, right? “Ambientador” sounds like a machine. I never would have guessed “air freshener” or “room spray” LOL.

  3. jajja sii, la verdad que en nuestros paises hispanos la vida es tan simple, yo no naci en Estados Unidos, pero me he acostumbrado mucho y he perdido esa simplicidad de .. si fumas hechale ambientador!! jaja y el olor se va! al final lo importante es tapar el olor, nadie se preocupa por el filtro de aire para quitar la nicotina.. que bonita experiencia, ya sabes que el AMBIENTADOR es indispensable en casa de fumadores :)

    • Yo compro Febreze y me gusta usarlo en la casa aunque no fumamos. It just gives a nice scent to the house. Tampoco tengo una maquina. (Son caras!)

  4. Aprendi una nueva palabra! :) Pero nunca hubiera pensado que quiere decir “air freshener”. :P

    Here’s my short and sweet post for Spanish Fridayhttp://www.motherhoodinmexico.com/2011/10/laugh-of-day-spanish-friday-edition.html:

    • On my way over, amiga! I haven’t been keeping up with visiting you guys on Spanish Friday. I’m determined to do it this week!

  5. Oh El Febreze! LMAO! That is too funny! I also thought it was some sort of air purifier! I learned a new word too!

  6. OMG!!! I’m cracking up!! I thought they were going to get you an air purifier machine or something like that!! jaja I think I’m going to use that at home para sonar más fancy!! LOL Hope it doesn’t bother you, (sometimes the teacher in me comes out) the right conjugation of the verb Oler is Olimos :)

    • Thank goodness we weren’t the only ones who imagined an air purifier. Carlos and I felt like complete gringos for not knowing that word. LOL.

      Oh, and we definitely use that word on an almost daily basis now. Like when one of the kids needs a bath. “Whew! You stink! Go get in the shower before I spray you with the ambientador!” … jajaja.

      As for the verb conjugation. Gracias, Señora MJ. LOL. Seriously, correct me any time – I appreciate it. On my way to go fix the mistake. Thanks!

  7. Jjaja! Cuando leí “ambientador” lo primero que pensé fue en alguien que hace ambiente en las fiestas, you know, like a party animator or something like that. Ya se, nada que ver! Pero eso es lo que me imaginé. Jajajaj!
    Love your posts amiga. Un abrazote!

  8. That was so funny! You are” brillante”!! In two languages :)

  9. LOL thanks for teaching me a new word lol

  10. jajajaja que chasco te llevaste!! Yo tambien (al inicio) pense te llevarian como un “extractor” de olor pero lo del Febreze esta genial y si funcionó pues que bueno!
    Ese hotel siempre me ha gustado (ahi pase mi 1r noche de bodas — alaro, no arruiné la cama jajajajaajaja) especialmente por su staff… super buena gente. Ahi ibamos muy seguido a desayunar con mi mami, le encantaba. La proxima vez que vaya sentire una inmensa nostalgia!

  11. That’s hilarious! What a big word for febreez lol.

  12. LOL, that was funny. I kept thinking, wow that is nice of them to bring them something to get rid of the odor. Never in a million years would’ve thought it would be febreze. I love febreze though, it smells so good!

  13. I’m surprised Febreze took the smell away.

    • I use Febreze at home and it does a great job – it doesn’t just cover up smells — not sure if that was the exact brand name the hotel used though…. It seemed they also made sure that whoever was smoking was told not to because the smell stopped coming through the vent.

  14. For a minute, I thought the guy was the “ambientador.” LOL

  15. I’ll have to do this, this week!

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