Keep Calm & Respetense Uno al Otro

If you’re a fútbol fan, chances are you know a big game is on tonight. El Salvador vs. Mexico. (The U.S. vs. Guatemala also!)

If you’re Salvadoran or Mexican, you know that games between the two tend to stir up some animosity. Even though a lot of people tell me I’m naive to think I can make a difference, each time Mexico and El Salvador play each other, I tend to make a public appeal that the teams, as well as the fans, respect each other and the game. Carlos has told me before that I’m wasting my time and that the two will always be bitter rivals. There’s no problem with a little rivalry, but I still think we can be respectful rivals.

If I keep even one Salvadoran from throwing things at Chicharito, or encourage even one fan of El Tri to rethink and ultimately decide not to make an ignorant comment about Salvadorans, then I’ll be happy.

Here are two graphics I made which I encourage you to share around social media. Help me spread the word. Keep Calm and Respect Each Other. Mantengan la Calma y Respetense Uno al Otro.

Click for larger version.

Click for larger version.

While I was creating these graphics, I stumbled upon a photo of President Obama holding a blue T-shirt. I couldn’t help but do a little photoshopping.

Looks like Pres. Obama is a reluctant fan of La Selecta. I think his facial expression reflects what a lot of us are feeling about tonight’s game. We’ll put on the azul, but maybe we’re not feeling all that hopeful.

Either way, buena suerte to both teams. Win or lose, I hope they give us a good game.

Secando al Sol

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 below!

“Mamá, la secadora no está secando,” dijo mi hijo mayor. Fui a ver que pasó y tenia razón – la secadora no queria ni encender. Me dejó escapar algunas malas palabras y luego hice lo que tenía que hacer. Saqué la ropa mojada y salí a la yarda, buscando una cuerda para tender la ropa a secar en el sol.

Resultó que no tuvimos suficiente dinero en nuestra cuenta por comprar una nueva secadora ni arreglar la que tenemos. Tuvimos que esperar una semana antes que pudieramos hacer cualquier cosa.

El primer día no estuve feliz y mi actitud era algo negativa. Traté de recordar que hay gente en el mundo que no sólo secan la ropa sin máquina cada día pero, mucho más fatigoso y difícil, lavan la ropa a mano también.

El segundo día mi actitud estaba un poco mejor pero algo chistosa. Empeze a imaginar que yo estaba practicando una habilidad de supervivencia y que mi familia estaba dependiendo de mí. “No estás orgulloso de mi?” pregunté a Carlos mientras doblé unas toallas rígidos pero secas.

“Orgulloso?” me preguntó.
“Sí, orgulloso que tu esposa todavia puede lavar tu ropa sin las conveniencias modernas!” dije.
“Oh…claro,” dijó Carlos en una manera poca convincente. (Y con razón, porque secando ropa al sol es algo común en El Salvador.)

En el momento que pudieramos llamar a alguien por arreglar la secadora, ya había empezado a gustarme secar la ropa a “la manera antigua”. Cada día esperaba tomar un descanso de la computadora, respirar el aire fresco, sentir la brisa y el calor del sol, escuchar los pájaros. Tener que colgar la ropa a secar me obligaba a salir afuera – algo que por lo general evito, pero sé que desesperadamente necesito hacer más a menudo.

Al final, tener la secadora quebrada fue una cosa positiva porque me recordó la importancia de vivir cada día – realmente vivir lo – no sólo dejarlo pasar.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

“Mommy, the dryer isn’t drying!” said my older son. I went to see what happened and he was right – the dryer didn’t even want to turn on. I let out some bad words and then did what I had to do. I took the wet clothes and went out into the yard, looking for a rope to hang the clothes to dry in the sun.

It turned out we didn’t have enough money in our account to buy a new dryer or to even fix the one we have. We had to wait a week before we could do anything.

The first day I was not happy and my attitude was somewhat negative. I tried to remember that there are people in the world that not only dry the clothes without a machine every day, but even more tiresome and difficult, they wash the clothes by hand too.

The second day my attitude was a little better but funny, too. I started to imagine that I was practicing a survival skill and that my family was depending on me. “Are you proud of me?” I asked Carlos as I folded stiff but dry towels.

“Proud?” he asked.
“Yes, proud that your wife can still wash your clothes without modern conveniences!” I said.
“Oh … sure,” Carlos said in a way that wasn’t very convincing. (And rightly so, because sun-drying laundry is common in El Salvador.)

By the time we could call someone to fix the dryer, I had begun to like drying clothes “the old fashioned way.” Every day I looked forward to taking a break from the computer, breathing fresh air, feeling the breeze and the warm sun, listening to the birds. Having to hang clothes to dry forced me to go outside – something I generally avoid, but I know I desperately need to do more often.

In the end, having broken the dryer was a positive thing because it reminded me the importance of living every day – really live it – not just letting it pass by.

Please refrain from throwing tortas at Chicharito

I didn’t think I’d be making a public service announcement today regarding the El Salvador vs. Mexico game, but a conversation with a friend this morning made me realize there are some issues that should be discussed, and if this helps change the behavior of even one person, pues, vale la pena.

Okay, guanacos, you know I love you all con todo mi corazón, right? You know I’m cheering for La Selecta in tonight’s game against Mexico, even though I also cheer for El Tri when they don’t play El Salvador. I’m aware that you guys have issues with each other and that Mexico can be equally disrespectful when El Salvador plays on their turf, (yes, I remember las abejas en la porteria), but where does it end, hermanos?

If Salvadorans are disrespectful to the Mexican team and Mexicans are disrespectful to the Salvadoran team, the cycle will continue to repeat itself. Look, I know it’s difficult. I have two sisters and when we’d get into a slap fight, we would keep slapping each other back and forth – always wanting to be the one to get the last slap in. Usually at some point I would slap my sister and run off until she forgot to slap me back later… (“Haha! Got you last!”) – But this situation is a little different. Someone has to have the maturity and self-discipline to let the other have the last slap.

Didn’t your abuela tell you, “Ojo por ojo y el mundo quedará ciego”? … Wait.. maybe that was Gandhi that said that. Gandhi would have made a good abuela. Anyway… Okay, your Nana probably told you, “Eh! Vos! Pórtate bien, cipote!… Qué bicho más malcriado, hijueputa…” – That’s not as inspirational, but good enough.

Last night Salvadorans stayed up all night making noise outside the Hotel Real Intercontinental in San Salvador where El Tri is staying. The intention was to disrupt the Mexican team’s sleep – but can I tell you something? I stayed at that hotel last summer and I can almost guarantee that the Mexican team didn’t hear a peep. The windows are really thick and I couldn’t hear anything down on the street below when we were there. Besides, even if it was loud enough to be heard, the Mexican team is already hip to this trick. Don’t you think that by now they’ve invested in some nice noise cancelling headphones? El Tri probably slept very comfortably, meanwhile, the Salvadorans down on the street missed a whole night’s sleep. Doesn’t make much sense, does it?

If these kinds of “pep rallies” were all that went on, then I would say está bien, it’s harmless, but things can get a lot more disrespectful and even violent. Apparently someone threw a torta at Chicharito. It sounds funny but come on, let’s talk about this seriously for a moment. Gente decente no se hace eso. First of all, Chicharito is a person with feelings. This was just incredibly rude. Second, this stupid act by one person reflects badly on all Salvadorans. Third, this happened when El Tri got off the bus in front of the Real Intercontinental. I have walked down that street, (Boulevard de Los Heroes) and I can promise you that there were at least three hungry people begging within a half block of that torta hitting the pavement. As my suegra would say, “Qué pecado” … Shame on you for wasting food like that.

This is a beautiful game. Use your passion to support your team in a positive way – not on negativity. Whose with me?

Chicharito image source: Ed Schipul

El colibrí

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!

En la escuela mi hijo menor tuvo que escribir una historia. Aquí es lo qué escribió, (lo voy a traducir abajo.)

In school my younger son had to write a story. Here is what he wrote.

La traducción:

Otro viaje que fuimos era a El Salvador. Cuándo estuvimos allá, vimos muchas cosas nuevas. Mi papá pagó para que pudiéramos entrar en el hotel. Cuándo recibimos la llave, fuimos a nuestra habitación. El siguiente día cuándo fuimos caminando al mall, me fije algo en las flores – ¡era un colibrí! Fue la primera vez que vi un colibrí. Cuándo vi a El Salvador, me sentí como que hubiera nacido allá.

Image source: AnnCam



El cuento que escribió mi hijo me recordó esta cita tan hermosa (traducción abajo.)

The story that my son wrote reminded me of this beautiful quote.

“Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration. Hummingbirds open our eyes to the wonder of the world and inspire us to open our hearts to loved ones and friends. Like a hummingbird, we aspire to hover and to savor each moment as it passes, embrace all that life has to offer and to celebrate the joy of everyday. The hummingbird’s delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life’s sweetest creation.” – Papyrus

“Las leyendas dicen que los colibríes flotan libremente del tiempo, llevando nuestras esperanzas para el amor, la alegría y celebración. Colibríes abren nuestros ojos a la maravilla del mundo y nos inspiran a abrir el corazón a nuestros seres queridos y amigos. Al igual que un colibrí, aspiramos a flotar y disfrutar de cada momento que pasa, abrazar todo lo que la vida tiene para ofrecer, y por celebrar la alegría todos los días. La delicada gracia del colibrí nos recuerda que la vida es rica, la belleza está en todas partes, cada conexión personal tiene sentido y que la risa es la creación más dulce de la vida.” – Papyrus

Dichos de Espinoza Paz

Espinoza Paz

Image source: Lunchbox LP

Aside from being a talented composer and performer of Regional Mexican music, Espinoza Paz, (born Isidro Chávez Espinoza), has a surprising amount of wisdom to offer fans and anyone else willing to listen. Here are some of my favorite quotes, dichos or frases that I’ve taken down from various interviews and from tweets from his Twitter feed.

Espinoza Habla Sobre Raíces Humildes / Espinoza on Humble Beginnings

★ “También los ‘nacos’ tenemos derecho a oportunidades, a triunfar, a lograr nuestros sueños y a ser respetados.” (Después de haber sido llamado “naco” por un reportero.)

Translation: “As ‘nacos’, we too have the right to opportunities, to succeed, to achieve our dreams and to be respected.” (Said after being called “naco” by a reporter.)

(Language note: “Naco” is a slang derogatory term for an uneducated person who comes from the country.)

Espinoza Habla Sobre Humildad / Espinoza on Humility

★ “Yo creo que hay gente que canta mucho mejor que yo.”

Translation: I believe that there are people that sing a lot better than I do.
(After being asked if he believes he sings well or badly.)

Espinoza Habla Sobre Racismo / Espinoza on Racism

★ “Por qué cuando alguien quiere ofender a alguien utiliza [la palabra] ‘indio’? Los indios no son seres humanos? …Yo soy indio para demostrarles a los que no lo son cómo se llega lejos siendo un indio.”

Translation: “Why is it that when someone wants to offend another, he uses [the word] ‘Indian’? Are Indians not human beings? … I’m Indian – to show those of you who are not, that you can go far being an Indian.”

(Language note: The word “Indian” in Spanish is often used to insult someone and call them “stupid.”)

Espinoza Habla Sobre Chisme / Espinoza on Gossip

★ “Yo nunca voy a vivir de hablar mal de los demás. Yo voy a vivir haciendo a los demás felices con mi música.”

Translation: “I’ll never live to speak ill of others. I’m going to live making people happy with my music.”

Espinoza Habla Sobre Criticismo / Espinoza on Criticism

★ “Yo no me siento mal cuándo hablan mal de mí. Por qué? Porque yo sé quién soy.”

Translation: “I don’t feel badly when people speak badly of me. Why? Because I know who I am.”

espinoza paz frase

Espinoza Habla Sobre Fe / Espinoza on Faith

★ “Mientras más me atacan, más Dios me ilumina con cosas buenas… Pues, que me sigan atacando para que me siga iluminando.”

Translation: “The more they [critics] attack me, the more God enlightens me with good things … So, I say go ahead and continue attacking me so I continue to be enlightened.”

Espinoza Habla Sobre Defenderte / Espinoza on Standing Up For Yourself

★ “Cuándo alguien me quiere pisotear, cuando alguien me quiere humillar a mi, yo no lo puedo dejar…No puedo hacer eso. No lo puedo permitir. ¿Por qué?”

Translation: When someone wants to trample me, when someone wants to humiliate me, I can’t leave it be. I can’t do that. I can’t allow it. Why should I?

Espinoza Sobre el Pensamiento Positivo / Espinoza on Positive Thinking

★ “Si pasa por tu mente, pasa por tu vida.”

Translation: If you believe it, you can achieve it.

espinoza paz frase

Note: Images legally used and adapted from photos available through creative commons and Lunchbox LP. Use and adaptation of photos does not signify their endorsement of Latinaish.com.

When Pandilleros Attend Mass and Other Life Lessons

I went to ElSalvador.com to check out photos of El Salvador’s momentous win last night against the U.S., but as is my habit, I became distracted by something else.

A still image in the sidebar of a tattooed marero (gang member), taking communion, made me pause. The story title: Pandilleros piden una oportunidad. I clicked through to the video and found it too moving not to share.

I don’t consider myself religious, but something about this video touched me. Looking at those faces, behind the tattoos, I see young men who were once little boys, and for whatever reason, they made mistakes that led them to where they are. Many of them come from poverty or abusive homes. Neglected by parents or orphaned by war, they sought to “belong” and that is a big attraction to gang life – it’s the family one never had.

“Siempre han dicho que nosotros somos la escoria y lo peor del mundo. Nosotros crecimos en un época de conflicto y en ese época tapamos nuestros valores con cosas negativas, pero estamos dispuestos a cambiar, si nos ayudan.” – source

["They've always said that we're the scum and the worst of the world. We grew up in an era of conflict and in that time we covered our values ​​with negative things, but we are willing to change, if you help us."]

“Nosotros estamos de buena fe, queremos seguir adelantes. Estamos consciente de que les hemos fallado a Dios, y a la sociedad, y aquí en nombre de toda mi pandilla, la MS13, quiero pedirle perdón, a la sociedad, y que nos dé una oportunidad de poder cambiar… nosotros también somos salvadoreños, nosotros también somos seres humanos.” – source: MS13 gang member in the video

["We are of good faith, we want to move on. We are aware that we have failed God, and society, and here, on behalf of my gang, MS13, I apologize, I want to ask for forgiveness, from society, and ask that you give us an opportunity to change ... we too are Salvadorans, we too are human beings."]

What would happen if we always believed the best about others, rather than the worst?…Maybe people live up to expectations.

Image source: Both images are screen captures from the video by ElSalvador.com
More images worth seeing: Informador.com

Resolutions + Perspective

I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions, but this year it became a time of self-examination and a clear starting point to make some changes. The changes I’ve made have been a long time coming – some once, (or many times), attempted and abandoned, others have been bouncing around in my head waiting for me to give them importance – still others have only come to me recently, as if they knew now was the moment I would welcome them.

I don’t like to call them “goals” or “resolutions” because I prefer to think I spend every day of my life stepping toward the self-actualized version of myself – Admittedly it’s a two steps adelante and one step atrás sort of thing.

Like many others, one of my “resolutions” (for want of a better word), is to take my health more seriously. I’m starting to feel my age and that – even more than wanting to look like a bikini chica in a Pitbull video, may be enough to scare me straight. My back hurts when I wake up. My knees ache when it rains. It’s too early to consider retiring to Miami so maybe, just maybe, I need to put down the Bubu Lubus.

When my dedication to working towards these “resolutions” wavers, (as it always does), I need to try to remember that my “problem” – my “struggle” – is only difficult from my perspective.

Think about this with me. Think about the ridiculousness of the challenges we face. Some common complaints:

• Food is too accessible and abundant. I can’t get away from the temptations.
• It’s too cold out so I can’t [leave the warmth of my house to] get some exercise.
• I’ve become bored with my workout. I don’t feel motivated.
• Food blogs tempt me with delicious photos of flan and burritos.

(Okay, that last complaint is mine.)

These are what you call “first world problems.” If you just shift your perspective, you may start to laugh at the once mountainous obstacles that seemed insurmountable.

This should shift your perspective. I took this photo in El Salvador – but what does it have to do with anything I’m talking about here? Let me explain.

While we were in El Salvador we went to visit family in Chalatenango. It was a long drive from San Salvador in an unairconditioned microbus. On the way back to the city, the traffic became thick. We shoved at the already open windows to let more air into the vehicle which now moved at a crawl. We fanned ourselves, watched beads of sweat roll down the sides of each others’ faces.

At some point, we came to a stop in front of a public well just off the highway. There I watched women and children washing laundry and scooping water over their heads – bathing fully-clothed with no privacy. I tried not to stare, didn’t want them to feel self-conscious, but Salvadorans are famous starers and I was probably the only one on the highway trying to watch without being obvious about it.

The laundry now heavy and wet, was put back into large plastic tubs, balanced on sturdy heads, and walked home, who knows how far, to be hung to dry.

…Something to remember next time taking a walk around my quiet suburban neighborhood seems too difficult.

El Salvador – Tín Marín Children’s Museum

My kids have been to plenty of children’s museums so why take them to one while we were in El Salvador? Because they’ve never been to a children’s museum in SPANISH!

I thought it would be funny to get a photo of the kids in front of this part of the entrance sign.

The Tín Marín Museo de los Niños in San Salvador is next to Parque Cuscatlán. Even though we were there on a day when most of the country was off for holidays, there was absolutely no line when we arrived. The friends we brought with us have lived in San Salvador their whole lives but had never been to the museum which opened in 1999. (We suspect because of the cost. Admission is $2.50 plus an extra dollar if you want to go to the planetarium. That’s $3.50 per person – a very good price to us, but unfortunately not affordable for all locals.)

If you’re trying to remember which famous Salvadoran “Tín Marín” is, (like I did) – give your brain a rest. As it turns out, Tín and Marín are invented characters.

Meet Tín (left) and Marín (right)

The staff at Tín Marín are incredibly nice and obviously love working with children. Seeing the way some of the young men engaged the kids at the museum was really cute.

They had a lot of fun things to do – a pretend bank, movie theater, airport, doctor’s office, dentist, volcano, fire station, art area, butterfly garden, and more. The first thing we wanted to do was check out the airplane. They have the actual cockpit and whole first class section of a TACA airplane on the property – but the tours are scheduled as “flights” … So while we waited for our departure time, we checked out a section that teaches kids about cellphone use.

Translation: "Did you know that in El Salvador there are more cellphones than people?"

Translation: "Answer calls at church only if it's an emergency."

I also took my younger son to the “doctor’s office.” A little girl seated at the receptionist desk chatted on a plastic phone. Seeing us at the window, she told us to have a seat. A few seconds later, the doctor, who was all of maybe 3 years old, came out in scrubs. He wordlessly waved us back to the exam room and my son hopped up on the table.

“Buenas tardes, doctor,” I said. “Mi hijo no se siente bien. Está enfermo?” [Good afternoon, doctor. My son doesn't feel well. Is he sick?]

The little doctor whose head barely came above the exam table, reached up and put the stethoscope on my son’s chest and listened for a moment. “Está enfermo,” he said.

“¿Tiene medicina?” I asked. [Do you have medicine?]

The doctor opened and closed an empty drawer. “No hay,” he said. [There isn't any.]

(Apparently we had gone to the public hospital.) We thanked the doctor and told him we’d get his medicine at the pharmacy instead.

Finally it was time for our “flight” – so we lined up. The Tín Marín guide for this tour was a very well-spoken young man and great with the kids. He would give them information and then ask them questions to see if they were paying attention. At one point he explained that you have to get a passport and a visa to travel to the United States. Then he asked the group, “What do you need to go to the United States?”

The kids obediently answered, “A passport and a visa!” … I whispered to Carlos and his friend, “or cash and a coyote.” … So we started laughing like bad kids at the back of the classroom.

Finally we were able to board the airplane. There weren’t quite enough seats so I gave mine up knowing that some of the people, (including our friend’s wife and teenage son), had never been on an airplane and this was special to them.

Carlos smiles for a photo while his friend pays attention to the tour guide.

After we exited the airplane, we went to check out the rest of the museum.

My younger son learns to hang clothes to dry.

My favorite part of the museum was the mini grocery store. They had laminated grocery lists you could use, (this teaches reading skills among other things – and for my kids, Spanish vocabulary) – but there weren’t any hard and fast rules. Kids could play however they wanted. So you get your list, (or not), go around with your little cart, get your groceries, and then go to check-out.

At the check-out, the “cashier” was so great with the kids. He would tell them things like, “Ah, you bought milk. When you drink milk you build healthy bones! Good choice!” … After everything had been scanned and put back into the cart, he told the child the “price” and then asked “Efectivo o crédito?”

“Efectivo” was a new word for me. I knew immediately that it meant “cash” but I had always used the slang word “pisto.” (And now I knew why the waiter at the fancy hotel in San Salvador tried not to laugh at me. One evening while I watched the boys swim I felt so sleepy I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I decided to have coffee delivered poolside. The waiter asked how I’d like to pay. I responded, “En pisto.”)

Anyway – the cashier asked my son “Efectivo o crédito?” – My son looked at me for guidance.

“Mejor efectivo,” I said.

“Efectivo,” my younger son said, pulling imaginary money from his pocket and paying.

When the “cashier” went on break, my younger son took his job at the register.

I loved seeing my kids playing with native Spanish speaking children and not having any problems. My younger son checked out several children at his register and asked them “Efectivo o crédito?” – So cute.

Wait a minute. This customer looks familiar.

My youngest son is actually almost 10 years old but he’s small for his age, and he uses it to his advantage. While other kids his age feel self-conscious playing pretend, he still jumps right in and has fun.

Our younger son works to repair downed power lines.

My teenage son tried to act like he was too cool for the museum, but when he saw our friend’s son, (who is also a teenager) enjoying himself, he started playing too.

Making pupusas... plastic ones.

Is it just me or do Salvadoran teenagers feel less pressured to act “cool” and “mature” when they reach a certain age? … It was really refreshing to hang out with our friend’s teenage son. He taught my teenage son to just have fun and not worry so much about what other people might think. That’s a good lesson for everyone to learn.

El Salvador – The Less Fortunate

While we have plenty of people living in poverty here in the United States, it usually isn’t quite so visible, especially if you live in the suburbs.

Going to El Salvador was eye-opening for the boys, and it reminded Carlos and I to be thankful for what we have, too. There were two encounters we had with people that have especially stuck with me.

The first one happened on our way to a mini-carnival. During the first week of August, carnivals pop up all over El Salvador. This one wasn’t well-known or in any way special, but it was close by so we thought we would walk over and ride a few rides one day.

As I climbed the sidewalk which curved up and around into a parking lot where the carnival had been erected, a half-empty 2 liter bottle of Sprite came rolling to a stop at my feet. I picked it up, and awaited the owner, who I knew must only be seconds behind, chasing it down the hill. Sure enough, the owner of the bottle arrived. A little girl, maybe 8 years old, stood before me. Her hair looked like it hadn’t been brushed in days, her face had smears of dirt on it, and her clothes were little more than rags. Next to her stood a little boy, probably her younger brother. He was in a similar condition. Both stood wide-eyed, looking at me, their arms filled with remnants of food they had dug from the trash. I situated the bottle back into the crook of her arm so she wouldn’t drop it. Before I could say anything, she whispered “gracias” and they both disappeared into the crowd.

The second encounter was on our last day. We had walked around the mall buying some last minute souvenirs and then decided to get some paletas. Our youngest son had ordered a paleta de uva and rejected it after his first bite. “This has real grapes in it!” he said, disgusted.

“You ordered grape!” Carlos said angrily.
“But I wanted just regular purple grape,” he said looking sadly at his paleta.
I touched Carlos’s arm gently. “Nene, he didn’t know better. He was expecting artificial grape flavor like American popsicles,” I said.

Carlos sighed, took the paleta for himself even though he didn’t want it, and bought our son another one.

We headed back to the hotel while we ate our paletas. By the time we reached the pasarela stairs, the boys and I had finished ours but Carlos still had a few bites left on the stick.

“Chele,” a woman said to Carlos, as we started up the stairs. She looked up at us, her face pressed between the railings.

“Regalame su paleta,” she said. [Gift me your popsicle.]

Somehow I could tell, the woman wasn’t terribly old, but a rough life had aged her prematurely. She was thin and wrinkled, her hair unwashed for a long time.

Carlos handed her the popsicle.

“Disculpe,” [Forgive me] she said, as she turned away and finished off the paleta.

Carlos and I exchanged looks. We turned back around and rushed to the first fast food counter we could find, ordering her a hot dog and a soda.

$1.70 isn't much to us, but it could mean a lot to someone else.

When we went back to the pasarela, the woman was still in the area, just down the street a little. I gave our younger son the hot dog and our older son the soda. I wanted them to be the ones to hand it to her so they would remember it.

“Hot dog para usted,” our youngest son said, giving her one of his infectious smiles. Our older son handed her the soda wordlessly.

The boys say her face lit up with a smile and she thanked them.

From the top of the pasarela we watched her for a few minutes. She opened the bag that contained the hot dog and stared into it then closed it up tight. She did this several times. The soda she hid under a nearby bush. We couldn’t really make sense of what she was doing. I told Carlos we should keep walking. Regardless of what she ended up doing with the lunch we gave her, we left feeling that we had done something good and that we had given the boys one of the most valuable souvenirs ever.

Herederos del Monte (a guest post!)

Today’s guest post comes to us from my fellow gringa and telenovelera, Amanda of Spanglish Aventuras.

When I became addicted to Telemundo’s Herederos del Monte and encouraged others to check it out – many of you did, and like Amanda, became totally enamoradas – not only with the hermanos del Monte, but with the quality of the production and storyline. It’s been excellent Spanish practice and I’ve picked up a few new catch phrases. (I love saying, “Por Dios Santooo!” and “Válgame” with the same intonation as José. I’ve also learned a dozen ways to tell someone to go away and leave me alone from Paula.)

Herederos, amongst some of the drama, (and yes, cheesiness) common in telenovelas, touched on some serious issues such as alcoholism, rape, mental illness, and spousal abuse.

Some may say telenovelas are mindless entertainment but as Amanda explains, telenovelas can be educational whether providing a fun way to learn a second language, or by teaching some serious real life lessons.

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Let the Truth be Known … on Los Herederos del Monte
by Amanda of Spanglish Aventuras

I mentioned in a previous post that my kids and I are watching a novela, Los Herederos del Monte, as part of our “language learning” this year.  As the soap opera is drawing to a close, I have been reflecting on some things, other than Spanish, that we can learn from their story. It all comes down to telling la verdad and not hiding it. That’s a good lesson for our lives too, right?

It seems to me that during Los Herederos del Monte, most of the characters have been hiding something from their friends or familia.  Many times, by simply sharing the information they were trying to disguise, the character could have avoided much of the angst and agony they endured…but then we would not have had a novela to see, would we?!?

It does seem a good rule for life though, “telling the truth and making life easier”.  I thought it would be fun to post about the characters and their truths (though oftentimes hidden at first) as a way to provide a summary for this intriguing “language learning tool” which has entertained so many these past few months.

(Warning….if you have not been keeping up with the storyline, details follow!)
Here goes…

Emilio: Although the father of the herederos was kidnapped and left for dead, he did not actually die.  He later had plastic surgery on purpose, to not appear as he once did, and with the help of his trusted Modesto, Emilio returned to his familia y pueblo as “Pablo”.

Emilio also did not disclose until the end that he knew that Juan was his only biological son and that Paula was not his biological daughter.

It is difficult to keep up with how many amantes Emilio has had throughout his lifetime, but those were secrets too.

Juan: The eldest of the “adopted” sons refused to admit to the other characters at first and even to himself at times later that although at one time (in the beginning) he thought he loved Julieta, he later only stayed with her out of sense of obligation (because at one time she was carrying his child, which she later lost and then Julieta had a terminal medical condition). Juan really only loves Paula.

Julieta:  The eldest daughter of Rosa and Miguel hides her true medical condition and tries numerous methods to make Paula (the supposed biological daughter of Emilio) leave “La Arboleda” and Juan’s sight.  (Remember the scorpions, the shot to make the horse throw Paula, and those chickens let loose in the bedroom?) Julieta has been very sneaky and conniving and there appears to be more coming at the end from her too.

Jose: One of the adopted sons of Emilio finds out early in the show about Paula maybe not being a real “del Monte” AND that Pablo is really Emilio.  Jose also later kidnaps Emilio, Adela, and Paula because he wants Emilio to change the paperwork to say Paula does not get any of the inheritance, to leave more for Jose himself!

Pedro: Another of the adopted sons of Emilio refused to admit for quite a while that he had a serious problem with alcohol.  It is admirable of this character however that he goes after what he wants whether it be Julieta or Berta!

Gaspar: Yet another of Emilio’s adopted sons, who hides for a while that he was the one that left Emilio for dead after the accident (because Gaspar was angry with his father for not having been faithful to Gaspar’s mother). Gaspar has an “attraction” for Adela, whom he later blatantly persues meanwhile he abuses his sweet wife Lupe.

Lucas:  The youngest adopted son of Emilio refuses to admit to himself that Nacho is a bad guy.  He also has trouble accepting that he has a biological family that desires a relationship with him, including Amador.

Consuelo y Rosario:  Julieta’s younger sisters, the daughters of Rosa and Miguel, do not want to admit that they were each raped by Nacho. Consuelo also does not want to admit to her husband Johnny that the baby she is now carrying could possibly be a result of the rape.

Sofia:  Paula’s mother and an amante of Emilio, refuses to share with Paula in the beginning that there may be a possibility that she is not actually a “del Monte”.  Sofia also hides her affair with Miguel for a while.

Lupe:  At first, Guadalupe hides her relationship with her then-boyfriend Gaspar from her father, Eluterio.  Next she hides details about her mom, (who abandoned her at an early age but later returns) from her father. Finally Lupe hides the abuse that she is receiving from her now-husband, Gaspar.

Sidenote….here’s hoping for resolution on the story with Lupe’s mom Ines, who disappeared from the pueblo again after reuniting with Lupe.

Beatriz: In the beginning she hides that she suspects that her son Simon’s actual father isJose del Monte and not her husband Efrain.  Later she refuses to admit to even herself that Jose is abusive.

Miguel:  This father of three daughters and husband of Rosa does not admit his affair with Sofia in the beginning. He also hides that he and Rosa later decide to hide medicine in their daughter Rosario’s food, at the request of her boyfriend Lucas, who got the pills from the evil Nacho.

If they could just tell the truth…..

Of course there are more characters who were important to the novela and also hid things from the other personajes.  Who else would you add to the list? Which story is the most intriguing for you?

Who says language learning can just teach you a language? I say it can teach you life lessons in the process as well!

Here’s hoping for a happy resolution in the Gran Finale on Telemundo at 9pm, this Friday night!