Category Archives: Corazón

Helado y La Lambada

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Image source: Flickr user .imelda

Image source: Flickr user .imelda

Yo estaba trabajando en la yarda cuando escuché el camión de helados en la calle. Paré y escuché. La canción me sonaba muy familiar y no fue “Pop Goes the Weasel” – (una canción común utilizado por los camiones de helados en los Estados Unidos.)

Empecé a cantar a mí misma … “Llorando se fue la que un día me hizo llorar…” – Qué qué?! Pero, estos son las letras de la canción de “Taboo” por Don Omar! … Cuando me di cuenta de que el camión estaba tocando La Lambada, (que Don Omar utilizó en su canción), agarré mi teléfono celular y tomé vídeo cuando el camión se fue saliendo de mi barrio. Chécalo!


Ice Cream and The Lambada

I was outside working in the yard when I heard the ice cream truck in the street. I stopped and listened. The song sounded familiar but it wasn’t “Pop Goes the Weasel” – (a common song used by ice cream trucks in the United States.)

I started to sing to myself… “Llorando se fue la que un día me hizo llorar…” – What in the world?! But these were the lyrics to the song “Taboo” by Don Omar!… When I realized the truck was playing The Lambada, (which Don Omar sampled in his song), I grabbed my cellphone and took video as the ice cream truck was leaving the neighborhood. Check it out!

Xenophobia and The Boston Bombings


The Boston marathon bombings – I didn’t think I would be writing about this, but here I am. Like most of you, I’ve been watching way too much TV, reading too many articles on the internet, and when torn away from those, listening to the radio in my car. Like most of you, I’ve had a lot of feelings the past few days on many different angles of this tragedy.

Tonight, the second suspect has been captured and it’s “over” … and yet it isn’t. I hear my fellow Americans chanting, “USA! USA! USA!” … and it seems somehow inappropriate. I understand relief. I understand pride in our first responders. I understand feeling some sense of justice or closure – but the all-out celebration, taking to the streets like revelers on New Year’s Eve? I can’t connect with it.

Those who died, are still dead; those who are mourning, are still mourning; those who are injured, are still injured. Those innocent people who were mistakenly caught up in the investigation, are still dealing with the resulting emotional damage. The young suspect in custody, if he survives, will face a long trial, all of which we will once again watch as if it’s some sort of sick reality show/telenovela hybrid.

After everything is said and done, we are left with scars – and some of those scars were inflicted on our society by the media, by irresponsible journalists. The use of racial profiling and the xenophobic language exhibited by journalists of networks I once respected, has disgusted me. It’s as if the journalists salivated at the idea that the suspects might be Muslim, as if that explains everything, when that fact alone explains nothing. That is why I’m writing this – It’s why I created a video – because at first, I couldn’t find words.

Maybe you’re not Muslim – most people who read my blog are not. Maybe you’re saying, “What does this have to do with me?” – Believe me, it has everything to do with all of us. The sentiments stirred up by the media, intentionally or unintentionally, are not only anti-Muslim, they are anti-”foreigner”, anti-brown person, anti-accent, anti-bilingualism, anti-immigrant. They are sentiments that divide and quite frankly, we’re better than this as a people, as a nation, and we deserve better than this from our news agencies.

If you agree with me, please consider sharing this video far and wide.

Olores y Cultura

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Image source: Marie Hale

Image source: Marie Hale

¿Cómo afecta tu cultura a tu sentido del olfato y las cosas que crees que huelen bien y las cosas que crees que huelen mal?

En un artículo que leí, hacen el argumento que aprendemos nuestras preferencias olfativas. ¿Qué interesante, no?

Unos ejemplos puedo dar de mi vida: A mi, me gusta el olor de zorrillo y también el olor de gasolina. Yo sé que son olores muy ofensivos para mucha gente, pero estos olores están ligados a buenos recuerdos de mi niñez.

También, olores que normalmente se consideran agradable en una cultura, pueden convertir en ser ofensivos para otros. Por ejemplo, el olor que llamamos “cherry” (cereza, pero cereza artificial como usan en paletas y chapstick), me encanta. Tengo bastantes buenos recuerdos con el olor “cherry” – pero mi suegra odia el olor y el sabor de “cherry” americano. (Digo “cherry americano” porque ella le gusta cerezas naturales.)

Siempre cuando hice una jarra de jugo sabor “cherry”, mi suegra empezó a quejarse de “el tufo.”

“Hiede a sapuyulo!” ella me decía.

Yo no sabía lo que era sapuyulo pero es una fruta, también conocido por el nombre “zapote” o “mamey” en algunos países. Mi suegra me explicó que cuando era niña, tuvo que tomar sapuyulo por un remedio casero o usar lo en forma de jabón, no recuerdo exactamente pero de cualquier manera no le gustó – y por eso el olor de “cherry” le molestaba mucho.

¿Y tú? Cuáles son tus experiencias entre olores y cultura? Cuáles olores te gustan? Cuáles olores no te gustan? Y cómo afectan tus buenos o malos recuerdos a los olores que te gustan o no te gustan?

Nota: Mil gracias a mi amiga Claudia quién me dijo como deletrear “sapuyulo.”


How does your culture affect your sense of smell and the things you think smell good and the things you think smell bad?

In an article I read, the argument is made that our olfactory preferences are learned. Interesting, right?

Some examples I can give from my life: I like the smell of skunk and the smell of gasoline. I know these are very offensive odors for many people, but these scents are tied to fond memories from my childhood.

Also, scents normally considered to be nice in one culture may be offensive in others. For example, the scent we call “cherry” (cherry, as in the artificial cherry scent used in popsicles and chapstick), I love very much. I have many fond memories of the “cherry” scent – but my mother-in-law hates the smell and taste of American “cherry.” (I say “American cherry” because she likes natural cherries.)

Whenever I used to make a pitcher of cherry-flavored juice, my mother-in-law would start complaining of “the bad smell.”

“That stinks like sapuyulo!” she’d say.

I didn’t know what sapuyulo was but it turns out it’s a fruit, also known by the name “sapote” or “mamey” in some countries. My mother-in-law explained to me that when she was a child she had to take a home remedy made of sapuyulo or that she had to use it as a soap, I can’t remember exactly how it was, but either way she hated it – and that’s why the smell of “cherry” bothered her so much.

And you? What are your experiences with smells and culture? Which scents do you like? Which scents do you dislike? How do your good or bad memories affect the scents you like or dislike?

Note: Many thanks to my friend Claudia who told me how to spell “sapuyulo.”

Finding My Heroes – a guest post

Today I’m honored to share a guest post from children’s author and Salvadoran, René Colato Laínez, as part of a “blog hop” and giveaway by Latinas for Latino Literature (L4LL).

Twenty Latino/a authors and illustrators plus 20 Latina bloggers, (well, 19 Latina bloggers and this gringa), have joined up with L4LL for this event. From April 10th to April 30th a different Latino/a author/illustrator will be hosted on a different blog. (Click here for all the posts!) Today you can read René’s touching article right here on and then see the details to enter the giveaway below.

Without further ado, I present, René Colato Laínez.


Finding My Heroes

by René Colato Laínez

I learned to read and write in El Salvador. As a child, I loved to read the comic books of my heroes: El Chavo del ocho, El Chapulin Colorado, Mafalda, Cri Cri, and Topo Gigo. My favorite book was Don Quijote de La Mancha.

When I arrived to the United States, I tried to find these heroes in the school library or in my reading books, but I didn’t have any luck. I asked myself, are my heroes only important in Spanish? I knew that the children from Latin America knew about my heroes but the rest of the children and my teachers did not have any clue.

One day, I was writing about my super hero and my teacher asked me, who is this CHA-PO-WHAT? COLORADO and then, she suggested, “It would be better for you to write about Superman or Batman.” On another occasion, a teacher crossed out with her red pen all the instances of “Ratón Pérez” in my essay and told me, “A mouse collecting teeth! What a crazy idea! You need to write about the Tooth Fairy.”

I started to read and enjoy other books but I missed my heroes. In my senior year of high school, my English teacher said that our next reading book would be The House On Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. I will never forget that day when I was holding the book. It was written by a Latina writer and I could relate to everything that she was describing in the book. The House On Mango Street became my favorite book. I said to myself, “Yes, we are also important in English.”

I write multicultural children books because I want to tell all my readers that our Latino voices are important, too, and that they deserve to be heard all over the world.

My goal as a writer is to produce good multicultural children’s literature; stories where minority children are portrayed in a positive way, where they can see themselves as heroes, and where they can dream and have hope for the future. I want to write authentic stories of Latin American children living in the United States.

My new book is Juguemos al Fútbol/ Let’s Play Football (Santillana USA). This is a summary of the book: Carlos is not sure that football can be played with an oval-shaped ball. Chris is not sure that it can be played with a round ball. It may not be a good idea to play with a kid who is so different… He doesn’t even know how to play this game! Wait. It looks kind of fun… Let’s give it a try! Enjoy and celebrate the coming together of two cultures through their favorite sports.

To conclude, I want to share this letter in English and Spanish. Everyone, let’s read!


Dear readers:

When I was a child, my favorite place in the house was a corner where I always found a rocking chair. I rocked myself back and forth while I read a book. Soon the rocking chair became a magic flying carpet that took me to many different places. I met new friends. I lived great adventures. In many occasions, I was able to touch the stars. All the books I read transported me to the entire universe.

Books inspired me! I also wanted to write about the wonderful world that I visited in my readings. I started to write my own stories, poems and adventures in my diary. Every time I read and revised my stories, I found new adventures to tell about. Now, I write children’s books and it is an honor to share my books with children around the world.

I invite you to travel with me. Pick up a book and you will find wonders. Books are full of adventures, friends and fantastic places. Read and reach for the stars.

René Colato Laínez

En español:

Querido lectores,

Cuando era niño, el lugar favorito de mi casa era una esquina donde estaba una mecedora. Me mecía de adelante hacia atrás mientras leía un libro. Enseguida la mecedora se convertía en una alfombra mágica y volaba por el cielo. Conocía a nuevos amigos. Vivía nuevas aventuras. En muchas ocasiones, hasta llegaba a tocar las estrellas. Los libros que leía, me podían llevar a cualquier parte del universo.

¡Los libros me inspiraban tanto! Yo también quería escribir sobre ese mundo maravilloso que visitaba. Así que comencé a escribir mis cuentos, poemas y aventuras en un diario. Cada vez que releía y volvía a escribir un cuento, este se llenaba de nuevas grandes aventuras. Hoy en día escribo libros para niños y es un honor compartirlos con muchos niños alrededor del mundo.

Los invito a viajar conmigo. Tomen un libro y descubrirán maravillas. Los libros están llenos de aventuras, amigos, y lugares hermosos. Lean y toquen las estrellas.

René Colato Laínez

René Colato Laínez is a Salvadoran award-winning author of many multicultural children’s books, including Playing Lotería, The Tooth Fairy Meets El Ratón Pérez, From North to South, René Has Two Last Names and My Shoes and I. He is a graduate of the Vermont College MFA program in Writing for Children & Young Adults. René lives in Los Angeles and  he is a teacher in an elementary school, where he is known as “the teacher full of stories.” Visit him at

The Giveaway

L4LL has put together a wonderful collection of Latino children’s literature to be given to a school or public library. Many of the books were donated by the authors and illustrators participating in this blog hop. You can read a complete list of titles here on the L4LL website.

To enter your school library or local library in the giveaway, simply leave a comment below.

The deadline to enter is 11:59 EST, Monday, April 29th, 2013. The winner will be chosen using and announced on the L4LL website on April 30th, Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros, and will be contacted via email – so be sure to leave a valid email address in your comment! (If we have no way to contact you, we’ll have to choose someone else!)

By entering this giveaway, you agree to the Official Sweepstakes Rules. No purchase required. Void where prohibited.

¡Buena suerte!

Cinco de Mayo Means Bring on the Stereotypes

For the most part I’m not the kind of person to be easily offended by stereotypes. Life is too short and there are way too many ways to be offended by things that aren’t politically correct. It’s difficult to say why one thing doesn’t bother me, but something else gets under my skin.

For example, the whole Mexican Barbie thing? If I were a little girl, I’d love to have that Barbie, and if I had a daughter, I’d buy it for her. I think it’s awesome that she has a passport, and all the dolls in the collection do. Her dark wavy hair is so pretty and being a brunette myself, I always favored dark-haired Barbies over the blondes. The ballet folklorico dress is nice although it could be more detailed, and the Chihuahua, well, I think that may have been a lazy decision, (isn’t the Xoloitzcuintli the national dog of Mexico?) – but all that being said, I’m not offended by the doll.

Really, my only major problem with Mattel’s Dolls of the World collection, (besides my usual complaints about Barbies contributing to unrealistic body ideals), is that they stuck with many of the same countries that are already represented in these types of toy lines. When will we teach kids about lesser known countries? Ask any kid in the United States to name a country that speaks Spanish and you’re almost guaranteed they’ll say “Mexico.” … In other words, when will we see a Salvadoran Barbie? (Or Honduran, Guatemalan, Nicaraguan, Costa Rican, Panamanian… you get the idea.)

Image source: LShave

Image source: LShave

If Mattel needs help designing the Salvadoran Barbie, I’m available. Imagine the colorful dress, the leather chancletas, maybe a cántaro or a bouquet of Flor de Izote. You could have a cachiporra version with a bastón, and a vendedora version in a delantal that comes with a comal full of pupusas. How about a Salvadoran version of the Ken doll? He could wear traditional dress with a scapular and a cowboy hat – he could carry a capirucho or maybe a modern version sporting una camiseta de La Selecta and holding a Pilsener. (Okay, maybe not.)

Speaking of beer, Cinco de Mayo is fast upon us which means every Mexican beer, tortilla chip, and salsa company is gearing up to bring in the pesos. Here is a display for Corona which I spotted at a Wal-Mart.



As I was saying, for the most part I’m not the kind of person to be easily offended by stereotypes, (they’re somewhat necessary to understanding the world we live in), and this doesn’t really offend me as much as it makes me roll my eyes. However, this stereotype of Mexicans – sombrero, sarape or poncho, and burro, (although I guess Corona decided to get “creative” and use a horse?) is getting a little old, isn’t it? Besides, they totally forgot the big mustache and the cactus for nap time after the fiesta is over.

Mi Bolsa Salvadoreña de Frijoles de Café

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!


Mi cumpleaños fue el mes pasado y mi madre me sorprendió con el regalo de una bolsa hecha de arpillera que una vez llevó frijoles de café de El Salvador. Mi mami fue varias veces para Mayorga Coffee y preguntó si tenían bolsas de El Salvador. Significa mucho para mí que mi mamá pensó en un regalo creativo que se ajuste a mis intereses y estilo, y también que ella fue a tantas molestias para conseguirlo.

Si tuviera que adivinar, (y estoy totalmente adivinando), yo diría que esta bolsa es El Porvenir Cup of Excellence de San Miguel. Este café es descrito como “Aroma/Sabor: Aroma picante, mango, mora, cítricos, florales, miel, chocolate, arándano, melaza.” Yo no soy una gran bebedora de café y por lo general mezclo crema y el azúcar tanto que yo nunca sería capaz de probar todas esas sabores, pero es delicioso imaginarlo.

Mi madre dijo que ella iba a tener la bolsa enmarcada pero es bastante grande y ella no quería cargarme con un objeto enmarcado tan grande. Esta fue probablemente una decisión inteligente, porque el espacio es limitado en las paredes de mi casa.

Eso deja la pregunta de qué hacer con la bolsa. He visto a algunas personas que reciclan estas bolsas de café en almohadas, bolsos, y alfombras – pero me decidí a poner la mía en el sofá hasta que decida qué hacer con ella.


Parece bien así, ¿verdad? ¿O crees que debería hacer algo diferente con ella?


My birthday was last month and my mother surprised me with the gift of a burlap bag which once held coffee beans from El Salvador. She went multiple times to Mayorga Coffee and asked if they had any bags from El Salvador. It means a lot to me that she thought of such a creative gift that fits my interests and style, and also that she went to so much trouble to get it.

If I had to guess, (and I’m totally guessing), I’d say this bag is the El Porvenir Cup of Excellence variety from San Miguel. This coffee is described as “Aroma/flavor: spicy aroma, mango, berry, floral, citrus, honey, chocolate, cranberry, molasses.” I am not a big coffee drinker and I usually mix in so much creamer and sugar that I’d never be able to taste all those notes, but it’s delicious to imagine.

My mother said she was going to have the bag framed but it’s pretty big and she didn’t want to burden me with a large framed object. This was probably a smart move because wall space is limited at my house at this point.

That leaves the question of what to do with the bag. I’ve seen some people recycle these coffee bags into pillows, purses, and rugs – but I decided to just lay mine on the back of the sofa until I figure out what to do with it.

It looks kind of good just like that, doesn’t it? Or do you think I should make something with it?


Update: After posting this, a friend (from Mexico), asked if “frijoles de café” is how you say “coffee beans” in El Salvador, because she knows them only as “granos de café.” It turns out that “frijoles de café” is just my very literal and incorrect translation from English. I have always called coffee beans “frijoles” and Carlos, for whatever reason, has never corrected me. Maybe this is his payback for me laughing at his English.

Another interesting note, after I posted this, Carlos kept referring to the bag as a “costal” (a new word for me.) “Costal” is the word for “sack” and is more accurate than calling it a “bolsa” or “bag.”

10 Vídeos Inspiradores

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. English translation is in italics!


Ya saben que me encanta buscar vídeos interesantes y divertidos en YouTube, pero aquí hay unos vídeos que encontré recientemente que me inspiran y quiero compartir los con ustedes. Hay algo para todos. Disfruten!

You guys already know that I love finding interesting and amusing videos on YouTube, but here are some videos I found recently that inspire me and that I want to share with you. There’s something for everyone. Enjoy!

#1. Este video se llama “Neymar humillado por peruano” pero no creo que fue humillado Neymar. Es sólo diversión amigable, y “el peruano” es muy talentoso.

This video is called “Neymar humiliated by a Peruvian” but I don’t think he was humiliated. It’s all in good fun, and “the Peruvian” is very talented.

#2. “A Shop in El Salvador Feb. 2013″ – Qué lindo el sonido de estas flautas, tocadas por un tendero en El Salvador.

How beautiful the sound of these flutes, played by a shopkeeper in El Salvador.

#3. “El tortillero de San Marcos, El Salvador” – Me encanta esta video de un tortillero en El Salvador. (¡Sí! Un hombre que puede hacer tortillas – su historia es muy interesante.)

I love this video of a male tortilla maker in El Salvador. (Yes! A man who can make tortillas – his story is really interesting.)

#4. “The Two Sides of Playa El Tunco, El Salvador” – Este video muestra los dos lados de la Playa El Tunco – la vida de turistas que disfrutan de la playa y la vida de la gente humilde que vive allá.

This video shows the two sides of Playa El Tunco – the lives of tourists who enjoy the beach and the the lives of the humble people who live there.

#5. “Calle 13 – La Vuelta al Mundo” – Super linda canción, linda letra, lindo vídeo y lindo el mensaje. Me encanta Calle 13.

Super nice song, nice lyrics, nice video, nice message. I love Calle 13.

#6. “Niña de 6 años cocinando – Ana Victoria” – Me encanta que puede cocinar este niñita y que está practicando su español con su mami. (Gracias a Trisha Ruth por compartir el vídeo conmigo.)

I love that this little girl can cook and is practicing her Spanish with her mother. (Thanks to Trisha Ruth for sharing this video with me.)

#7. “Lazaro Arbos Auditions – American Idol Season 12″ – Este muchacho se llama Lazaro Arbos. Lazaro es un inmigrante Cubano y a pesar de que tiene un tartamudeo, no afecta su capacidad de cantar en American Idol.

This young man is named Lazaro Arbos. Lazaro is a Cuban immigrant and despite having a stutter, it does not affect his ability to sing on American Idol.

#8. “Corto Niños Vallenatos” – ¡Talentosos esos niños que tocan música en Colombia!

These kids who play music in Colombia are so talented!

#9. “El Cajero de la felicidad” – A veces las empresas grandes pueden tener un gran impacto en una forma significativa.

Sometimes big companies can make a big impact in a meaningful way.

#10. “Cumpleaños de una habitante de la calle en el centro de Bogotá” – La señora vive en la calle, pero no importa – es su cumpleaños y un joven insiste que lo celebre.

The woman lives on the street, but it doesn’t matter – it’s her birthday and a young man insists that she celebrates.

¿Cuál vídeo te gusto más? Por qué? … Which video did you like most? Why?

Conversations at Casa López – Part 2

It’s that time again. As I mentioned in the first edition of “Conversations at Casa López” – there is usually at least one funny conversation in our bilingual household each day. You know how when older people get mixed up and say, “Sorry, I’m having a senior moment”? Well, I call these “bilingual moments” and I’ve been writing them down the past few months to share with you. Here we go!

Me: Dame un cucharo por favor.
Carlos: {laughing} What?
Me: The knife, give me the knife.
Carlos: Cuchillo.
Me: I swear I knew that.


[Talking about a friend he's unhappy with.]

Carlos: He fell off the motorcycle.
Me: What motorcycle? What?
Carlos: Don’t you say that in English?
Me: What are you talking about?
Carlos: In El Salvador, when you don’t like a person anymore, you say se cayó de la moto.


Carlos: Can you put lotion in my back?
Me: In it?
Carlos: Yes.
Me: Are you SURE? You want me to put lotion IN your back?
Carlos: On.


11 year old: Buenos días, mamá. [Kisses my forehead while I'm still in bed]
Me: [smiling] Eres un niño dulce.
11 year old: I’m a candy?


[Giving a spelling test to our 11 year old.]

Carlos: Damness.
11 year old: Whaaat??
Carlos: DAMNESS.
11 year old: Daddy, let me see that, [Pulls book toward himself] … That says DAMPNESS.
Carlos: DAMNESS… You know what I mean!
11 year old: No Daddy, I actually didn’t. I thought you were saying a bad word.


[Carlos yelling at our 11 year old who was rough housing with the dog.]

Carlos: Don’t let the dog bite you like that. One day he’s going to bite your ear off and you’ll look like that artist… What’s his name?
Me: Van Gogh.
Carlos: Yeah, you’ll look like Vengo.


[At a Salvadoran restaurant. The waitress had been speaking Spanish to us the entire time but when she came to check on us during our meal, she accidentally spoke in English and caught herself.]

Waitress: How is every— oh! [pauses, bows head and closes her eyes]
11 year old: [whispering] Did she fall asleep?
Me: No, she’s just trying to switch her brain back to Spanish. The gears get stuck sometimes.


What has been your funniest bilingual moment lately?

Pescado, Cerveza e Invitados Inesperados

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!


Es domingo, casi a la hora de cenar, y todavia no me habia bañado. Carlos tampoco se habia bañado porque pasamos todo el día haciendo trabajo de jardinería. Estabamos sucios y sudorosos. Usé la ropa más fea y manchada que poseo, mi pelo era un desastre. Quitamos la ropa, Carlos y yo, listos por bañarnos por fin cuando escuchamos un carro parando afuera de nuestra casa. Voces hablan en español fuera de la puerta y luego, el timbre.

“¿Quién es?” pregunté a Carlos. No estamos esperando visitantes.

Carlos mira a escondidas por la ventana.

“Es Mando y Naji con los niños.”

Mando y Naji son nuestros amigos, una pareja mexicana, pero no somos tan, tan amigos que podemos visitar uno al otro sin invitación, o por lo menos, sin aviso. (Ni me visita mi madre sin hablarme por teléfono primero!) Como gringa, esta costumbre es una de la cultura latina que todavia no me gusta y de que no estoy acostumbrada.

Carlos se pusó su ropa de nuevo y fue a recibir a nuestros invitados inesperados, pero yo no! Me metí en la ducha y después empecé a vestirme lo más rápido posible. Puse ropa limpia, pero nada super fino, sólo eran jeans y una camiseta. Yo me recogí el pelo mojado y sólo puse un poco de maquillaje. “Es suficiente,” dije a mi reflejo en el espejo antes de salir de mi cuarto.

En la sala, Mando y Naji estaban sentados en el sofa y cuando les saludó, (Mando con un apretón de manos y Naji con un beso y un abrazo), lo único que podía pensar era ¡Qué guapos están! Los dos estaban vestidos en ropa fina y se veían tan elegantes que pregunté si acaban de salir de misa.

“¿No?” él respondió, perplejo. “¿Por qué?”

“Oh,” dijé yo, “Es que, ustedes se ven muy bonitos.”

Mando se sonrojó, pero no ofreció ninguna razón por la ropa de lujo.

“Nos trajerón pescado y cerveza,” Carlos me dijo, cambiando el tema. Esta visita está poniendo aún más extraña, pensé yo, pero allí estaba en la cocina, una bolsa llena de pescados ensangrentados con escamas, colas, cabezas y ojos. Cercano, unas botellas de Negra Modelo.

Por un tiempo, nos sentamos y hablamos. Yo disfruté mucho jugando con su bebé bien lindo con sus ojitos “chinos” y su sonrisa desdentada, pero cuando el tiempo de la cena llegó, no dio señales de salida. Al contrario, Mando abrió otra cerveza y Naji quitó sus tacones.

Con ansiedad, me di cuenta de que querían quedarse a cenar y todavia yo no había comprado la comida para la semana. Fui a la cocina a hacer un inventario, rezando que hay suficiente comida por hacer una cena bonita. De nuevo, miré la bolsa de pescado.

“Carlos,” le susurré, “Ellos no están esperando que voy a preparar los pescados por la cena, verdad?”

Gracias a Dios, Carlos me dijo que no – que no eran más que un regalo.

Al final encontré todo que necesitaba por hacer albóndigas salvadoreñas en salsa con arroz, yuca frita, curtido y tortillas. Naji insistió en ayudarme a cocinar – especificamente, ella quería hacer salsa mexicana por las albóndigas.

“Puedes hacer la salsa,” dije yo, “Pero son albóndigas salvadoreñas. No sé si saben bien juntas.”

Naji me observó hacer las albóndigas.

“Las hace diferentes que las albóndigas mexicanas. Yo pongo un huevo duro adentro de cada una,” dijo Naji.

“Qué rico,” dije, “Pero las albóndigas salvadoreñas no traen huevo adentro.”

“Bueno, de todos modos” dijo Naji a su manera amable pero terca, “Quiero hacer la salsa.”

“Está bien,” encogí mis hombros. “Vamos a comer albóndigas salvadoreñas con salsa mexicana, pues.”

Trabajamos juntos en la cocina, Naji y yo – una cosa difícil para unas mujeres.

“Te ayudo con las tortillas,” me dijo cuando terminé de hacer la masa.

“Okay,” dije, “gracias.”

“¿Dónde está la prensa?” me dijo.

“¿Qué es? No conozco esa palabra.”

Naji imitó el acto de presionar una tortilla plana en una prensa para tortillas.

“Oh! … No tengo,” dije, palmeando la masa entre mis manos.


“Así.” Me golpeó una tortilla gruesa en el comal.

“Para mi esto no es tortilla, es gordita.”

“En El Salvador, es tortilla,” dije.

Ahora era Naji que encogia sus hombros. Ella tomó un puñado de masa y comenzó a copiarme, deteniéndose de vez en cuando para preguntar si era correcto. Ella golpeó una tortilla gruesa en el comal, luego sonrió y negó con la cabeza.

“Guau, estoy aprendiendo hacer tortillas salvadoreñas.”

“Es aún más extraño,” dije, “estás aprendiendo hacer tortillas salvadoreñas de una gringa!”

A las nueve de la noche, todos finalmente se sentaron a cenar, todos alrededor de la mesa – Mando y Naji y sus dos hijos, Carlos y yo y nuestros dos hijos, una familia extraña pero feliz.

Barrigas llenas, platos raspados limpios después de porciones segundas y terceras, era el momento de decir “adiós”. Cuando se despidierón y cerramos la puerta, me di cuenta de que a pesar de que no me gustan las visitas de sorpresa, había sido una noche de diversión.

Ah, y si te lo estás preguntando, albóndigas salvadoreñas son deliciosas en salsa mexicana.



It’s Sunday, almost dinnertime, and I still had not bathed. Carlos also had not bathed because we spent all day doing yard work. We were dirty and sweaty. I wore the ugliest and most stained clothes I own, my hair was a mess. We removed the clothes, Carlos and I, finally ready to shower when we heard a car stopping outside our house. Voices speak Spanish outside the door and then the doorbell sounds.

“Who is it?” I ask Carlos. We are not expecting visitors.

Carlos peeks out the window.

“Mando and Naji with their kids.”

Mando and Naji are our friends, a Mexican couple, but we aren’t so close that we can visit one another without invitation, or at least, without prior notice. (Not even my mother visits me without phoning first!) As a gringa, this custom is one part of Latin culture that I still do not like and I’m not used to.

Carlos puts his clothes back on and goes out to greet our unexpected guests, but not me! I got into the shower and started to get ready as quickly as possible. I put on clean clothes, but nothing super nice – just jeans and a T-shirt. I pulled back my wet hair and put on just a little makeup. “Good enough,” I said to my reflection in the mirror before leaving my room.

In the living room, Naji and Mando sat on the couch and when I greeted them (Mando with a handshake and Naji with a kiss and a hug), all I could think was, They look so nice! Both were dressed in fancy clothes and looked so elegant that I asked if they had just come from mass.

“No?” Mando said, puzzled. “Why?”

“Oh,” I said, “It’s that you both look so handsome.”

Mando blushed, but offered no reason for the fancy threads.

“They brought us fish and beer,” Carlos said, changing the subject. This visit is getting even stranger, I thought, but there it was in the kitchen, a bag full of bloody fish with scales, tails, heads and eyes. Nearby, a few bottles of Negra Modelo.

For a while, we sat and talked. I enjoyed playing with their cute baby with his little almond-shaped eyes and his toothless smile, but when dinner time came, they made no move to depart. On the contrary, Mando opened another beer and Naji took off her heels.

Anxiously, I realized they wanted to stay for dinner and I hadn’t even bought the groceries for the week. I went to the kitchen to take inventory, praying that there was enough food to make a nice dinner. I looked at the bag of fish again.

“Carlos,” I whispered, “They’re not expecting that I prepare the fish for dinner, are they?”

Thankfully, Carlos told me no – that the fish were nothing more than a gift.

In the end I found everything I needed to make Salvadoran meatballs in salsa with rice, fried yucca, curtido and tortillas. Naji insisted on helping me cook – specifically, she wanted to make the salsa for the meatballs.

“You can make the salsa,” I said, “But they’re Salvadoran meatballs. I don’t know if they’ll go well together.”

Naji watched me make the meatballs.

“You make them different than Mexican meatballs. I put a hard boiled egg in each one,” said Naji.

“Sounds good,” I said, “But Salvadoran meatballs don’t have an egg inside.”

“Well, anyway,” said Naji in her kind but stubborn way, “I want to make the salsa.”

“Okay,” I shrugged my shoulders. “We’ll eat Salvadoran meatballs with Mexican salsa, then.”

We worked together in the kitchen, Naji and I – a difficult thing for some women.

“I’ll help with the tortillas,” she said when I finished making the dough.

“Okay,” I said, “Thanks.”

“Where is the prensa?” she said.

“What’s that? I don’t know that word.”

Naji imitated the act of pressing a tortilla flat in a tortilla press.

“Oh … I don’t have one,” I said, patting the dough in my hands.

“So, what now?”

“Like this,” I smacked a thick tortilla on the griddle.

“To me that is not a tortilla, that’s called a gordita.”

“In El Salvador, it’s a tortilla,” I said.

Now it was Naji who shrugged her shoulders. She took a handful of dough and began to copy me, stopping occasionally to ask if it was right. She slapped a thick tortilla onto the griddle, then smiled and shook her head.

“Wow, I’m learning to make Salvadoran tortillas.”

“It’s even stranger than that,” I said, “You’re learning to make Salvadoran tortillas from a gringa!”

At nine in the evening, everyone finally sat down to dinner, all around the table – Mando and Naji and their two sons, Carlos and I and our two boys – a strange but happy family.

Bellies full, plates scraped clean after second and third helpings, it was time to say “goodbye.” When they left and we closed the door behind them, I realized that even though I don’t like surprise visits, it had been a fun night.

Oh, and if you’re wondering, Salvadoran meatballs are delicious with Mexican salsa.

Related Posts:

Amigos, fútbol, tamales y agua de uva

Mexican Salsa Roja

Bubu Lubu

Salvadoran Albóndigas

Día de Nieve

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. English translation in italics!


Este miercoles tuvimos un montón de nieve hasta que Carlos no fue a trabajar y los niños no fueron a la escuela. Chico, (el perro) también tuvo un día lleno de diversión como puedes ver en el video.

On Wednesday we got a lot of snow, so much so that Carlos didn’t go to work and the kids didn’t go to school. Chico, (the dog) also had a fun-filled day as you can see in the video.


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