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.